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2259
Recovering deleted items with Outlook


NOTE: This article applies to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 on a Windows PC.  It does not apply to the webmail service (Outlook Web App).  If you're using Outlook 2011 on an Apple Mac, please refer instead to FAQ 2277.

When you delete items such as emails, calendar entries and contacts in Outlook, they are moved to your Deleted Items folder, but can be recovered quickly from there if necessary - see Recovering items from the Deleted Items folder below.

If you remove items from the Deleted Items folder or empty it completely, the items are moved to an archive area in Exchange called the dumpster (sometimes called the Recoverable Items folder) where they will stay for up to 28 days before being permanently removed.  You can also recover items from the dumpster - see What if I've emptied my Deleted Items folder? below.

Recovering items from the Deleted Items folder

If you want to 'un-delete' an item in the Deleted Items folder, just open the Deleted Items folder (in Outlook) and then:

  1. Find the required item (see the Finding Items section below).  If you want to recover a deleted folder, see the Finding Deleted Folders section below.
  2. For single items, Right-click the required item, then click Move To Folder... in the drop-down menu, then select the required folder from the list and then click on OK.
    If you want to 'un-delete' several items at a time, click on the first item, then hold down the SHIFT key while you click on the last of the required items - this selects all the items in the range.   Or, hold down the CTRL key while you click on several selected items - this selects all the items you click. Then, right click on any of the selected items and use the Move To Folder function as before.
    Note that you should only do this with the same type of item in one operation; that is, you shouldn't move emails and contacts at the same time - you'd need to do the emails first, then the calendar items, and so on.
    If you are recovering a deleted Contact, open the Contacts folder in the list, then click on the required contact folder, then click OK.

FINDING ITEMS

When opened (click on the Deleted Items name), the Deleted Items folder may list a lot of items.  Each item will be marked with an icon that identifies what type of item it is - except for folders: if you want to recover a deleted folder, see the Finding Deleted Folders section further below.  The most commonly used icons are:

Icon  Type of item
Icon  Type of item
   An unopened email    An email that's been opened
   An email you've replied to    An email you've forwarded
   A copy of an email you sent    An autoreply email
   One of your Contacts    A Calendar entry
   A cancelled Calendar event    An email about a Calendar event
   A delay notification    A delivery failure notification

 A more complete list of icons can be seen at www.howto-outlook.com/howto/icons.htm.

You can sort the list of Deleted Items by type, by clicking on the Sort by: Icon column header (the label appears when you float the mouse pointer over it), as shown below:

 

Click the icon again to sort in the reverse order.

FINDING DELETED FOLDERS

If you have deleted a folder (together with any emails it contains), it's shown differently in the Deleted Items folder.  Folders are not listed with emails in the Deleted Items list, but instead become sub-folders within Deleted Items in the Navigation pane on the left.   If the Deleted Items folder contains sub-folders, it will be shown with an arrowhead pointing to its name in the folder list, like this:

Deleted Items folder in Navigation pane

(Note by the way that any number to the right of the Deleted Items name (377 in our example) is the number of unread messages in the folder, not the total number of items)

Click on the arrowhead (which will change appearance) to see the sub-folders within Deleted Items.  In our example, Deleted Items contains one deleted folder, gartner, containing one unread message:

Deleted Items sub-folder

To recover a deleted folder, just drag-and-drop its name from within Deleted Items onto your mailbox name (or, drag it onto an existing folder so as to make it a sub-folder of that folder).  In our example, gartner (together with its contents) is being dragged back to the main mailbox and will be listed amongst the other folders in there once again:

Undeleting a folder

What if I've emptied my Deleted Items folder?

If you have recently emptied (or at least removed the required item from) the Deleted Items folder, the items will have been archived to a location called the dumpster (sometimes called the Recoverable Items folder) where they will remain for up to 28 days. You will need to use the Recover Deleted Items option to try to get them back.

Note however that folders are not stored as such in the dumpster; only a deleted folders' emails are stored there, and you won't be able to see the folder from which an item was deleted when you look in the dumpster.  If you had deleted a folder, you will need to re-create the folder in your mailbox, then search the dumpster for the emails it contained:

  1. Click to open the folder where you want the recovered message to be stored.
  2. If you are using Outlook 2010 or 2013, click on the Folder tab and then click the Recover Deleted Items tool button:
    Outlook 2010 Recover deleted items

  3. The dialogue box will list all your deleted items now in the dumpster:

    Outlook 2010 Recover deleted items

  4. Search the list for the item you want to recover.  The icons used are the same as those shown in the table above.  You can click on any of the column headings to sort the list according to that column, to help you find the item you want:

    Outlook 2010 Recover deleted items - sorted list

  5. When you've found the required item, click it to select it.  If you want to select several items of the same type, hold down the CTRL key while you click each message. Or, to select a range of items, click the first and then hold down the SHIFT key while you click the last in the range.
  6. Click on the Recover Selected Items icon Outlook Recover Items icon in the row at the top:

    Outlook 2010 Recover selected items

  7. The selected items will now be recovered from the dumpster and put into the folder you opened in step 1.
NOTE that items you deleted from your Deleted Items folder more than 28 days ago will no longer be in the dumpster and may not be recoverable.

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This is question number 2259, which appears in the following categories:

Created by Andy Clews on 9 March 2011 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 20 October 2016