How to Recover Permanently Deleted Emails in MS Outlook Inbox

Accidentally deleting important emails from your Outlook inbox can be frustrating. The good news is that in most cases, you can recover deleted emails in Outlook, even if you emptied the Deleted Items folder. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to recover permanently deleted emails from Outlook.

Check the Deleted Items Folder

When you delete an email in Outlook, it is moved to the Deleted Items folder. Emails stay in this folder until it is emptied.

To recover deleted emails:

  • Open Outlook and go to the Deleted Items folder
  • Look for the deleted email and right click on it
  • Select Move > Other Folder and choose the folder you want to move it to

Emails remain in the Deleted Items folder for 30 days by default before being permanently deleted. So if you act quickly, you can often find deleted emails here.

Use the Recover Deleted Items Feature

If the email is no longer in the Deleted Items folder, Outlook has a Recover Deleted Items feature that can retrieve items deleted in the past 30 days.

To use Recover Deleted Items:

  • In Outlook, go to the Folder tab
  • Click on Recover Deleted Items
  • Select the emails you want to restore
  • Click Restore to recover the emails

This allows you to recover deleted emails even if you emptied the Deleted Items folder. However, it only works for emails deleted in the past 30 days.

Check the Recoverable Items Folder

Outlook has another hidden folder called Recoverable Items that retains deleted emails. If an email is not in the Deleted Items folder or cannot be recovered with the steps above, check this folder.

To access Recoverable Items:

  • Right click on the root folder in the Folder Panel
  • Choose Recoverable Items
  • Look for deleted emails in this folder and restore them

This folder contains items deleted from any Outlook folder, including the Deleted Items folder. So it should contain any emails deleted in the past 30 days.

Use a Third Party Tool

If you cannot find the deleted emails using the above methods, the next option is to use third party software that can scan your Outlook data files and recover deleted content.

Some top tools include:

  • Stellar Repair for Outlook: Scans PST files and recovers deleted emails, contacts, calendars, etc.
  • OutlookRecovery: Finds deleted content from OST and PST files.
  • Recovery Toolbox for Outlook: Retrieves accidentally deleted Outlook items.

These tools dig deeper than Outlook’s built-in recovery features and may be able to retrieve permanently deleted content. Follow the steps provided by the software to scan your Outlook data file and restore deleted emails.

Restore from a Backup

As a last resort, you can restore deleted emails from a backup. If you have Outlook set up to backup emails to another PST file or external service, you can restore missing emails from this backup source.

To restore from a backup:

  • Locate your Outlook backup file (PST or other format)
  • Open this backup file in Outlook or restore it over your existing PST data file
  • Search this backup for the missing emails and restore them

Having a backup can save the day if emails are permanently deleted without other recovery options.

Prevent Email Loss

While it is possible to recover deleted emails in Outlook, prevention is better than cure. Follow these best practices to avoid losing important emails:

Back Up Your Outlook Data – Set up automatic backups or manually back up your PST file occasionally. This gives you a copy to restore from if needed.

Online Archiving – Use a cloud archiving service to store emails offline long term, protecting you from catastrophic data loss.

Change Default Settings – Extend the retention period for deleted items beyond 30 days so you have more time to recover them if needed.

Be Careful When Deleting – Double check folders before emptying the Deleted Items folder or deleting lots of emails permanently. Accidental deletions happen too easily.


Accidentally losing emails in Outlook is common but can disrupt your productivity and lead to lost information. Thankfully, Outlook has inbuilt recovery features that can rescue deleted emails in many cases. Just remember to act quickly before content is permanently purged. If Outlook’s tools fail, specialized software and backups provide more recovery options. Following best practices around archiving and backups can also help avoid email loss happening in the first place.