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Gmail Recovering Deleted Email Messages from Trash Can Folder

Problem Summary. Gmail does not have an easy or intuitive method for recovering deleted messages. This page explains the details of this problem and the solution to recovering deleted messages from Gmail.

Quick Fix. These are the simple step 1, 2, 3 instructions for quickly and easily recovering deleted Gmail messages.

  1. In very small print, at the top of the Gmail page when you are logged in, you’ll see a link that says Show search options. Click this link, then choose Trash from the drop down next to Search and then click the Search Mail button. This will show all of the messages in your Trash.
  2. If you have too many emails in the trash to easily find what you are looking for, you can actually search the Trash for something in specific.
  3. Once you find what you are looking for, select it, and then click the Move to Inbox button.

Alternate Methods. Instead of implementing a simple and intuitive method for recovering deleted messages, Gmail has chosen to leave their system confusing, complicated, and difficult to figure out, and they have written up difficult to find help pages. This is similar to putting a sign along the road that says “bump ahead” instead of fixing the bump in the road.

Problem Details. When using the web interface for Gmail, the Trash folder doesn’t show up in the left navigation bar. However, email client software running on your computer, such as Thunderbird or Apple Mail, when configured to access GMail via the IMAP protocol, will show hidden folders on Gmail including the Trash folder. You’ll see All Mail, Drafts, Sent Mail, Spam, Starred, and Trash. The Trash folder is where deleted messages go. If you see a Deleted Messages drop-down in the web version of Gmail, this may have been created by the Apple Mail client. It is a different folder than the Gmail Trash. This may be a result of the client having it’s own method of marking messages as deleted.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com