How to Find Lost Gmail Messages

Gail Lincoln from United States writes:

99% of my Gmail is gone, including my folders where I was saving tech info. How do I get my Gmail message back?

Logging in to your email and finding all your mail has gone is a sinking feeling that many of have experienced over the years. However, with any luck it is not gone for good. It may just be hidden from plain sight. Here are some of the usual suspects.

1. The Trash – It may seem obvious, but the first place to look for your missing email is the Trash. Gmail will store emails in the Trash folder for 30 days, but after that, they will automatically be permanently deleted, so don’t delay if it has been a while since you have seen this mail.

  • Look for the Trash folder on the left hand side of your Gmail inbox, and click it.

gmail trash

  • If your emails are here select them all by clicking the checkbox above your emails
  • Then click the folder icon to choose a folder to move your emails to.
  • Finally, click Inbox to move your files back to your Gmail Inbox

move to inbox


2. All Mail – This one is less obvious. If your email is not in the Trash, it could be in the All Mail folder. This is where Gmail stores all your archived mail. This is mail that was not trashed, but archived using the archive button on the toolbar. However, the All Mail folder could be hidden from view. Here is how to find it.

  • Hover your mouse over the left hand side of your screen next to the Trash folder we just looked. You should see an option that says More.

more gmail folders

  • Click the More button to reveal additional folders, including the All Mail folder.

all mail

  • Click All Mail to see if your emails are in this folder. If they are, you can repeat the instructions above to select the emails you want and move them to your Gmail inbox.

move to inbox

3. Spam – It is possible that your email may have been accidentally moved to your Junk Mail folder by you or another user. You can find your Junk Mail folder in the same way you find your All Mail folder.

  • Hover your cursor over the left hand-side of your screen next to the Trash folder.
  • The Junk Mail folder is directly below the Trash.

junk email

4. POP/IMAP Email Clients – Have you recently set up a third-party email client like Outlook or Thunderbird to collect your Gmail for you? If so, it is possible that it may not have been set up properly and was instead set to delete the email as soon as it was grabbed by your third-party email client. To check your POP settings, see below and any third party email clients that you have set up on your computer:

  • Click the Gear icon in the top right hand corner and select Settings

gmail settings

  • Next click Forwarding and POP/IMAP at the top of the screen, and look to see if POP is enabled. If it is, be sure that it is NOT set to Delete Gmail’s copy.

pop settings

If you can’t find your email in any of these places, there is a high chance that your account has been compromised. You should immediately go to and click the change password link to prevent any further unauthorized access to your account.

change google password

~ Jonathan

64 thoughts on “How to Find Lost Gmail Messages

    1. 4-14-2015
      My email format was changed a few days ago, putting tabs across the top. At the same time all of my gmail messages and contacts totally disappeared except for a few really old message, one being from 2010! I received an email from Google saying my messages cannot be retrieved. Is this happening to other people? What happened to my gmail and why? Thank you so much for your help.

      1. Yes! I am furious! ALL mycemail is lost. On my iPhone, my tablet AND computer. PleAs send me the email address for Gmail. Thanks

  1. I opened my gmail account this morning around 9:00 am, I saw my messages and then they disappeared. My sent messages did the same thing!! They are NOT in spam, trash or any other folder. This is rediculous, I have important messages that I needed to answer.

    1. Dawn. I’d first suggest clearing the cache in your browser to make sure it’s an issues with Gmail and not with your browser.

  2. I experienced the exact same issue yesterday, October 12 at 2pm CT. As of this moment, October 13 8:19am CT, the emails are still missing.

    I manually search for emails that I know I received in the past couple weeks and some are retrieved while others are not (like from my wife and my child’s school).

  3. Update: I cleared my cache on all my browsers and I experienced the same issue on all my devices (Windows laptop, Macbook, iPhone 5 and iPad.

  4. I lost all the emails in my folders on the left hand side. Today at 1:00 they were there and at 2:30 they were gone. I had a lot of important family emails in there…please help me find them

  5. Today everything has disappeared out of my inbox!! not in all mail not in trash, nowhere to be found! I have so many important emails in here, I have tried everything to retrieve. Please help me find them. Same on my iPhone5.. all gone including all my notes!! hundreds of them.

  6. Update: Having looked several times through every folder, the inbox emails appeared in my spam after three hours! I had to page by page put them back into inbox.. all 2500 emails.. anyway relieved but have no idea how this happened.

  7. I have the same issue with missing emails from my gmail account. At 10am on Monday 9th all emails ion my gmail inbox and set mail items disappeared for no reason. I have searched in All Mail, Trash and Spam and cannot recover these – they are very important emails including contracts and other agrements I need them back. This is not the first time I have encountered this problem with gmail but this is urgent given the content of the missing emails. Can someone please help me find these or provide a contact number at google who could help? Thanks

  8. Help! So frustrated – today all my saved emails from all my file folders disappeared completely. I lost so many critical files – this is the second time with gmail. Any suggestions??? Its not in all mail. I filled out a report and they said it should come back over the next 24 hours, but so far, no luck. Cmon Gmail! I switched to you from yahoo thinking you were better – this is way too costly!

  9. The same happened to me last night. Everything is gone. I had important messages I needed to keep. What is going on??

  10. I had so many files saved in different labeled folders for at least 3 yrs. and this morning when I tried to open one folder, it indicated that “there are no conversations in this folder”. I opened the others as well, and they were all gone. I called the Mac Help Desk and they gave me 1-877-355-5787 and when I called that number, you needed a pin number. I don’t have a pin number!! I just want my emails back.

  11. All of my gmails are gone as well as all of my folders where I had stored important emails. I have checked all the folders missing and a few emails were in the trash but the majority of messages and all my folders are still missing.

  12. All of my gmails are gone as well as all of my folders where I had stored important emails. I have checked all the folders missing and all my folders are still missing.
    How can I recover them????

  13. My emails that were stored in folders are gone, I have had them for years and now they are gone. My confidence in Gmail is gone, back to storing important files on my hard drive, cloud computing is still not stable or to be trusted.

  14. All the emails in my SAVED file of Gmail are gone. Does anyone have a telephone number or email at Google to address this problem?

  15. Same has happened to me. I looked through all my devices and every single one of them showed deleted. When I went to my iPad i had all my emails visible then they just vanished. Google needs to have an answer to this. I did not change any settings; I verified everything was correct so my gmail won’t delete emails automatically. I almost can see this being a law suit in the works to be honest.

  16. All of the above happened to me today. This is beyond frustrating. All my emails have gone save for a few. I emailed google and got an email saying they have been permanently deleted and cannot be recovered! This is unacceptable.

  17. The same thing happened to me several times over the past 2 weeks. Gmail retrieved it for me the first couple times but I just received a message saying that it can’t be done now…
    Any suggestions ?
    My computer is in the shop or I would have moved them all to another account.

  18. This is beyond stupid…THANKS GMAIL, I lost all emails pertaining to court cases and then some…… photos that are NOT REPLACABLE! I left YAHOO mail because of corrupting within. BUT ATLEAST I HAD MY Fing EMAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. I lost my gmail thrice since 2014 . I followed all the instruction whatever I could find on internet and filed complaint to gmail several times but no response from them so far . Very poor costumer service .
    What is happing with Gmail ??? I think Google guys are going crazy . They can not afford so many users . Is there anyway I can sue them for deleting my important stuff. Gmail is failed mail service . I am think to switch better mail service . Any suggestions ???

  20. This happened to me as well. I usually check my email from my phone and just simply checked my email and I only had 4 new emails! Everything else is gone!!! So my son logged in on his computer and went to and it was confirmed. I did this thinking it might be my phone, but no, they are all gone!!! WTF?? Can’t get in touch with Google at all. This is a big FAIL in my book.

  21. It happened to me as well. I heard that it could have happened when my phone upgraded to the new iOS9. Hopefully it is backed up in my cloud.

  22. UGH!!!! Important e-mails regarding school and FAFSA, GONE!! I can’ find it anywhere and did try the suggestions above.

  23. Mine just disappeared as well. Not everything. Storage went from just under 14 GB used to just under (and exactly half) 7GB used. About 4000 emails missing. No apparent rhyme nor reason to which ones are gone. For instance a sequence of emails with attachments were generated every day from Nov 1 2011 to Nov 30 2011. These are items I would have never deleted however ~2/3 are gone now. Strangely other emails with attachments on the same day as the missing ones are still there. The only thing this makes me think of is a wipe of the storage unit with emails being stored not sequentially but somehow stored to minimize wasted space on the drive. Wipe a sector of the storage and you get a random loss of emails. Nothing else makes any sense.

    Anyone figure a way to get Google to restore this. Considering the number of people who are reporting this problem I would guess that the problem is at Google’s end. Of course since this monolithic company does not allow you to talk with anyone nor do they provide contact information to do so. Bad bad bad business model. But if I were Google why should I care. Right?

    1. Keep in mind that having a large segment of your e-mails disappear can indicate that your account has been hacked. Hackers will sometimes take out large chunks of data. You should immediately change your password if this happens.

  24. This has happened to me, too. I just got a new iphone last week. Any resolutions on this yet?!? Really hoping these e-mails are not gone forever…

  25. This happened to me a month ago – all my emails prior to October 5 were totally gone. I have contacted google support and they tell me that all my emails were deleted and I should change my password. I had super important documents attached to emails-all gone. This can’t be possible. I tried all the methods that were suggested-trash, all mail, etc. NOTHING! Unbelievable that this can happen.

    1. Anne, unfortunately, this can happen to anyone if hackers crack your password. It’s important to have a a strong hard-to-crack password and to also use two-factor authentication. Plus, don’t let super-important documents sit in your Gmail as your only copy. Use an e-mail client to download important messages or simply copy and paste the contents and save them in another location.

      1. They clearly say it was not hacked. Why do you insist on that??

        Someone from my household deliberately deleted one of my messages. I need it back. It was also deleted from trash. How do I do it?

      2. I certainly don’t insist that everyone’s account has been hacked. Only, if your messages have disappeared and you don’t know why, hacking is a possibility. In your case, you know why – someone deleted them deliberately and emptied the trash and deleted your messages from Google’s servers (actually deleting frees up the space on the servers where they were stored and allows that space to be overwritten with new data.) If someone did this without your permission, you can complete a form and file a report with gmail.

  26. This just happened to me. Sometime in the last hour or two. Gone vanished. Has anyone heard anything on this. No help from Google. This has to be a problem on their end. Very very strong password.

    1. Wanted to add. I have 1 random chat from 2012. And a random +/-8 months of messages from 2015. But they are not chronological. That’s is the just the range they appear in from 2015. Other than that everything prior to Saturday is gone. Including messages sent. No messages sent at all. Zero.

    2. Two questions. Do you have 2-factor authentication enabled and have you checked to see where the latest log-ins were on your g-mail account.

  27. I just discovered that tonnes of important emails in my personal folders are gone. I have tried to reach out to Google via Twitter and no one has responded yet. It’s been a day and half and I still can’t find any solutions. Also, I checked my “last account activity” details and no one has hacked into my email. Has anyone been able to resolve this? Please share if you have. Thanks.

  28. The gmail forum has 400+ posts on erasure of Gmail (all or majority of email deleted & reported since 2015). Gmail blame apple and shares the solution ‘dont use apple ios’. apple seems not to acknowledge a role. The issue is mass erasure with out consent, and restoration.
    It is unclear as to cause; reports of different email providers yahoo , gmail etc & mobile clients involved hp apple etc. It could be a hack , bug , accidental ‘touches’ or all.
    The question is how to get the mostly automated ISPs like google to help, just restore the mail, but that seems labor intensive, and would cost $ ! There have been reports of restoring the mail for users but it is sketchy info on when, how, and why gmail helped. Please post any results.

  29. Me too . I have lost 4.5 years of client emails from the account I use for work- just disappeared. And there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do…..or even knowing what has happened. Tried everything Google suggest, but nothing works……CRAP…..
    I can’t believe that it is that hard to restore email accounts…..

  30. This has happened to me as well. For the last several weeks, my mail keeps disappearing from all of my folders in GMail.

    I do not use IOS…I use Win 10 and Android Samsung for phone and tablet. Google did send me some of my lost emails but these too keep disappearing.

    I often use a desktop mail client such as Thunderbird and now all the missing emails are also missing in any of my synced mail clients.

    My account has not been hacked. I have an exceptionally strong PW. I did change it just to be safe, but it made not difference.

    Just doing a search on Google show many many others are experiencing the same issue with GMAIL.

    PLEASE help.



  31. Had the same problem today, it was shocking Couldn’t believe all my important emails are gone. All the emails in the inbox and other folders were gone except the spam. Then realised I have so many emails in the trash and yes, I don’t know how but all the emails (around 10000) were there. I selected all and returned them to the inbox. all the emails backed to their folders. 🙂

  32. My emails are all gone toooooooooo. All of my folders are empty… I have 43 emails left. Everything is gone from before 3/31/16….. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. This is the 3rd time in a month this has happened. The first time google was able to recover all of my emails, something like 34,000 from many years. I spent days sorting the trash from my important documents. It happened again while I was out of town and I spent 3 hours on the phone between Verizon and Google in order to get the same 34,000 back and had to resort again. This just happened again and I was able to find everything moved to all mail. This is ridiculous.

  34. This just happened to me a little earlier today – hundreds of emails gone.

    I found information on reporting it, went through their security steps and they restored my email within like 15 minute – 728 emails going back years. Maybe I just got lucky.

    1. Andrew, where id you find the info on reporting it?
      This morning 90% of emails in my gmail labels are gone. I’ve tried all the suggestions on websites, but nothing has worked. I’d appreciate any help you can give me.

  35. Yep.. same here.. though in my case it’s everything new after Dec 31 2016.. anything listed as coming from a friend.. or as important.. GONE… I have one email that was sent april 22.. I’m going to keep checking and see if there is a time limit concept.. delete after 30 days.

  36. Hi everyone – all my emails have disappeared from all my devices including gmail account, iPhone and mailbox on my laptop..any advice? Freaking out!

  37. peace of sh.t. they start economy space and do it well.
    i lost all my mails, pictures and other important information
    what i saved for 10years here. when i whrote to them, answer was
    We received your request to recover deleted emails from your account. Unfortunately, the emails were permanently deleted, so we’re not able to get them back for you.

    We know this can be really frustrating, and we’re sorry that we can’t help this time around

    Thanks again for using Gmail,

    The Google Support Team

    (no trust any more, piece of sh.t)

  38. all mesages older than 1 year, all contacts gone. lost 10 years there.
    google respond was
    We received your request to recover deleted emails from your account.

    Unfortunately, the emails were permanently deleted, so we’re not able to get them back for you.

    We know this can be really frustrating, and we’re sorry that we can’t help this time around

    1. Did you check to see if your Google account had been recently accessed from another location to see if someone had indeed put in the request to delete your e-mail messages?

  39. i have lost over 100 of my sent e mails i hope that you can help me
    thank you very much sincerely peter walsh…

  40. For those missing some emails, it might just be search changes.

    I had a lot of emails ‘vanish’ from search results, but adding a – back into the search had them showing up again. (The specific emails were from a source that had a – in its name, but when using the search bar to find them again I’d always leave the – out. Used to they’d pop up just fine, but now I have to write out the full search term.)

  41. Emails in all folders disappeared even deleted messages.
    Every folder shows “no mail”
    Happened 2 days ago but receiving new emails

    1. Elizabeth, I lost all of my emails in my inbox on this weekend. I noticed they were missing on Sunday, but they were there on Saturday morning. I still had emails in trash, spent and sent folders, but none of them were items from my inbox. I am a little bummed out. I, too, am receiving new emails.

  42. I received an email from a gmail sender. I, personally, do not have a gmail account. I forwarded it to my husband and then responded to the email. A few days later, I needed to email this person again, but her email could not be found anywhere, in any folder, on my computer. Strangely enough, my husband couldn’t find it on his computer, either. This was the first email I’d ever received from this email address. I need to respond, but it’s missing! Help! BTW, no other gmail messages have “gone missing”.

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