How to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail: computer and mobile

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 24 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you use Gmail as your primary email either for work or at home, it's useful to know how to recover lost emails. It's easy to accidentally bin an important email using Gmail and other popular email platforms and this knowledge can prevent you from permanently losing crucial messages. You can recover deleted emails in Gmail on both PC and mobile platforms. In this article, we explore how to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail and why it's important to know how to recover lost emails if you use Gmail regularly.

Why it's useful to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail

Being able to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail is useful if you use Gmail for work, either because your employer has a business Gmail account or because you use it to apply for jobs or to contact clients. It's easy to accidentally delete essential emails in Gmail because you don't realise how important it is at the time or because you mis-clicked and deleted the wrong email by mistake. Retrieving the email prevents the loss of important information and ensures you can continue communicating effectively.

Gmail only stores deleted emails in its 'Trash' folder for 30 days, after which they're permanently deleted. Make sure you regularly check your trash folder to ensure there aren't emails in there that you wish to keep.

Related: Everything you need to know about email automation

How to retrieve deleted Gmail emails on a PC or laptop

If you're working on a PC or laptop, including both Windows and Mac computers, recovering your deleted emails in Gmail is simple. Follow the steps below to retrieve deleted emails in Gmail on Mac and Windows computers:

1. Navigate to your email account

The first step to restoring deleted emails in Gmail on a computer is navigating to your email account in a web browser. You may be asked to log in to your Gmail account to access your emails and you can do this with your account address and password. If you work with multiple different Gmail accounts, make sure you log in to the correct email address that contains the emails you want to recover.

2. Locate the trash folder

The Gmail menu is on the left side of the screen. Scroll down in Gmail until you can see the tab that says 'More' in the left-side menu. After clicking 'More', you can see the 'Trash' label. Click on this to access your email trash folder. This is where Gmail stores deleted emails for 30 days, so you can find any recently deleted emails in this folder.

3. Select the emails you want to recover

You can now find the email or emails that you want to recover from your trash folder. Remember that you can only find emails deleted in the past 30 days in this folder so if the email you're looking for doesn't appear, it may mean you deleted it more than 30 days ago. You can select all of the emails that you want to recover by clicking the small box to the left of each email. You can select just one or many emails at this step and when you've selected an email a black tick appears in the check box.

4. Move the emails to your inbox

Once you've selected all of the emails you want to recover from your trash folder, navigate your mouse to the bar at the top of the folder, above your emails. Here, select the icon featuring a grey folder with an arrow. This is the 'Move to' button and it allows you to select a new location to move your deleted emails to. You can choose to move them into your inbox or another appropriate folder, or you can recategorise them all from your inbox.

Related: How to access work emails with Outlook: PC and mobile

How to retrieve deleted Gmail emails on iOS and Android

If you're working from a portable device such as a smartphone or tablet, you can also recover deleted Gmail emails from the Gmail app. This method works on both iOS devices, like iPhones and iPads, and Android phones and tablets. Follow the steps below to recover deleted emails from your Gmail account on portable devices:

1. Open the Gmail app

The easiest way to access Gmail on a portable device is using the dedicated Gmail app. This is available to download from the app stores on both iOS and Android devices and all you're required to do to access your emails after downloading the app is log in to your Gmail account using your email address and password. If you've used the Gmail app before, it may have saved your details in your account.

2. Locate the trash folder

To locate the trash folder in the Gmail app, click on the three grey lines in the top left corner of the app and scroll down until you see the 'Trash' folder. On some versions of the app, you might have a 'Bin' folder instead. Click on 'Trash' or 'Bin' to open up the trash folder in Gmail, where the app stores deleted emails for 30 days after deletion.

3. Select the emails you want to retrieve

You can now select all of the emails that you want to recover from the trash folder. To do this using the Gmail app, all you're required to do is click on the photo or letter to the left of the emails you want to retrieve. This leaves a tick next to the email. You can select as many emails as you want to recover using this method.

4. Move the emails to the correct folder

Once you select all of the emails you want to retrieve, you can recover them by navigating back to the three grey lines in the top right corner of the app. Clicking on this brings up the Gmail menu where you can click on 'More', followed by 'Move to'. Now you can choose the location you want to move the selected emails to. You can choose your inbox or another folder. If you're moving a lot of emails, it may be easiest to move them all safely to your inbox first before sorting them into other folders from there.

Tips to keep your Gmail inbox organised

You can prevent the likelihood of missing and accidentally deleting emails by taking steps to keep your Gmail account organised. If you use Gmail for work and especially if you receive many emails every day, it's important to organise your Gmail account so that it's easy to find the emails that you want when you want them. Follow the tips below to keep your Gmail account organised and reduce the chances of losing important information in emails at work:

Set aside time every day to read emails

It's tempting to check your emails as soon as they come in but this often means breaking your concentration at work multiple times every day. If you can set aside time each day to read recent emails, you can stay on top of your emails and prevent your inbox from becoming disorganised. Carving out dedicated time to tend to your inbox also reduces the likelihood that you accidentally delete the wrong emails because you're in a rush.

Related: What are the best email clients to use and how do they work?

Create multiple folders in your inbox

If you receive many emails every day, it can be helpful to create folders in your inbox so that related emails appear together. This makes it much easier to find specific emails later on when you want them. For example, you could create a folder for work-related emails and another for personal emails. You can also create sub-folders, for example for emails relating to different projects at work.

Unsubscribe from spam emails

It's likely that you receive spam emails occasionally, either because a company shared your email address or because you receive marketing emails from a partner company. They take up space in your inbox and contribute to a messy, disorganised Gmail account. Taking the time to unsubscribe from spam emails as soon as you receive them is the best way to protect your Gmail account in the future and reduce the risk of accidentally deleting non-spam emails.

Mute group emails that you don't require

If you're part of a group email thread that's no longer relevant, or if you're receiving too many emails from a particular group or person, you can mute the conversation. This means that you won't receive notifications every time someone replies to the email, but you can still access the conversation later on if necessary. This is especially useful if you're included in group threads for multiple projects, some of which you may have limited involvement with.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles