Where is my mail!? How to find and retrieve lost emails

You’re sure you had an email about last week’s project in a folder, but now it’s nowhere to be found. Or even worse, you know you saw a new email from your grandma, but when you go to your inbox to look at it, it’s gone! Keep calm and read this blog post – mail.com will show you where to look.
The good news is that emails don’t just disappear from your mail.com account. But if your messages are suddenly not where you expect them to be, it is often due to either the POP3/IMAP settings or the folder settings in your inbox. Today we'll help you:
  1. Adjust your POP/IMAP settings
  2. Adjust your folder settings or filter rules
  3. Retrieve your lost emails
Stressed businessman looks at his laptop
Missing mails? Don’t worry – mail.com can solve the mystery

1.  Check your POP3/IMAP settings

Have you activated the POP3 or IMAP settings in your mail.com account in order to use an external email program like Outlook to check your mail, for example? If so, we may have already gotten to the bottom of the case of the vanishing emails! (If you don’t use POP3 or IMAP, you can skip ahead to part 2 for some inbox detective work.)
POP3 and IMAP are protocols for receiving email. With POP3, you can download emails from the server to read offline, while IMAP grants you access to your emails in real time with the email program of your choice.
In the case of POP3, the emails are “picked up” from the server by the program you use to check your email – which means that, if you are using the default settings, they are removed from the server and placed in the designated email inbox. So if you check your email again later using a different program, any emails that were “picked up” earlier won’t show up there. For example, if your grandma sends an email to your mail.com address and you use Outlook to check that account via POP3, her email is downloaded to Outlook and is no longer on the mail.com server. Which means if you log in to your mail.com inbox in your web browser the next day, your grandma’s email won’t show up there. But to find it, all you have to do is go back to Outlook (unless you permanently deleted it there, in which case your only option is to ask your grandma to send it again).
There are three different ways to prevent this problem going forward:
  1. Select the option “Leave a copy on the server” in the POP3 settings of the external email program you use to check your email (wording will vary), and your emails will then be available for download in any email program you use to check mail.
  2. Use IMAP instead of POP3 – but keep in mind that IMAP does not download emails by default, so you will not be able to see them unless you are connected to the internet.
  3. Switch to our Mail App to check your email on your mobile devices, which means you do not have adjust the server settings manually – everything is taken care of for you.
Screenshot of Advanced iPhone settings for email accounts
Make sure messages aren’t being deleted from the server in the POP3 settings of the external email program – for example, your iPhone’s email app

2. Check your folders and filter rules

Let’s go back to the case of the missing project email. You know you put it your “Work” folder, but now it’s gone! The most likely cause is that you configured the folder to store messages for a specific time – for example, one week – so now, two weeks later, that email has automatically been moved to your Trash folder. No worries: the default storage time for messages in your Trash folder is 30 days, so you should be able to find your message there.
If you are looking for a specific vanished email, your best bet is to use the Search function instead of manually checking all your inbox folders. Just type in the sender's name, for example, and if the email is still in any of your folders, including Trash or Spam, it will show up on the search results list. (Once you have clicked the magnifying glass icon to start your search, an additional toolbar will appear to let you filter the results if needed.)
And here are a few more pointers to keep emails from playing hide-and-seek in the future:
  • Change the storage times of your Spam and Trash folders: If the default setting of three months means that emails you want are sometimes mistakenly deleted, give yourself more time by adjusting the settings. FYI, your other folders have an unlimited storage time by default.
  • Check your filter rules: In the past you may have set up filters to automatically sort or delete certain messages. If you’d rather have those emails arrive in your inbox where you will see them immediately, you can deactivate the rule.
  • Look in your Spam folder to see if certain emails are going there by mistake. You can make use of the Not Spam button and the allowlist function to train your spam filter and keep wanted emails from going to Spam.

3. How to retrieve lost emails

A lot of the time a “lost” email has simply been deleted – either we did it ourselves by accident, or it has been automatically deleted by one of the processes described above. The good news is that email programs to not immediately delete an email forever: deleted messages will be kept in the Trash folder for a while before they disappear permanently.

How to get erased emails back

If you find your missing email in your Trash, or if you change your mind about deleting an email, all you have to do is move it back to your inbox (or whatever folder you want it in). The process will vary slightly depending on the email program or device you are using. Here are some tricks to try in mail.com web mail, Outlook, and on your iPhone.

Retrieving erased emails in your mail.com account

If you are logged into mail.com on your computer’s web browser:
  1. Go to your Trash folder and locate the erased email you’d like to retrieve
  2. Select the message by clicking the checkbox on the left
  3. Click Move and a dropdown menu will appear
  4. Select the folder you’d like to more the email to
  5. A confirmation message will appear at the top of the page
  6. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the message to the desired folder
Good to know: By default, the messages in your mail.com Trash folder will be permanently deleted after 3 months. Once they are deleted from the Trash, they can no longer be recovered. However, if you like you can change the folder settings so that in the future, deleted messages are kept for a longer or even unlimited period of time. Just mouse over the name of the folder, click the wrench symbol that appears to the right, and make the desired changes.

Recover deleted emails in Outlook

If you want to recover missing emails in Outlook, your first stop is the Trash or Deleted Items folder (the name will vary depending on your version of Outlook). If your deleted message is still there, just right-click on it, then click Move > Other Folder to put it back where you want it – or move it by dragging and dropping it. If the email has also been deleted from the Deleted Items folder (note: this will not work with versions of Outlook that have a Trash folder), you may still be able to recover it:
  1. Click on the Deleted Items folder
  2. In the Home menu, click on Recover Deleted Items From Server
  3. Look to see if the message you want to recover is listed
  4. If so, select that item and click Restore Selected Items > OK 
Good to know: if you do not see Recover Deleted Items From Server in the Outlook Home menu, this means that your account does not support this function.

Recovering emails on an iPhone

If you use the Apple mail app on your iPhone, to retrieve a deleted email:
  1. Tap the Back button to go to your Mailboxes
  2. Tap the Trash mailbox
  3. Slide left next to email you want to restore and then tap More
  4. Tap Move Message, then select another mailbox.
 If you use the mail.com Mail App, the process for restoring a deleted email is similar:
  1. Tap the Trash folder
  2. Select the email you want to recover by tapping the checkbox on the left
  3. Tap the folder symbol that appears in the lower left corner
  4. Tap the folder you wish to move the email to
Good to know: Unfortunately, no matter which app you use to check emails on your iPhone, once messages are deleted from the Trash folder there is no way to recover them.

 We hope this solves the mystery of the missing email! We look forward to your feedback below.
Images: 1&1/Getty Images

31 people found this article helpful.

Related articles

Email organization: Two effective strategies for organizing your inbox

Out of office messages: Examples and what to avoid

New: Direct access to your mail.com email list