Finding Deleted Emails

Dear Computer Lady,

I read your articles and print them out when I feel they can help me on the computer.

I am not very computer smart, but would like to know how to find an email message that has been deleted. when I have already deleted the delete file. Make sense?

I have Vista.

Thanks, Joan


Dear Joan,

The short answer to your question is that you can’t find an email message once you have deleted it, and then emptied the deleted items folder. It’s kind of like finding a newspaper article after you have used the paper to start the woodstove. You and I could never do it.

I am not going to say that it is impossible to find email messages after they have been deleted because if you have unlimited resources and the right forensic software, you can find just about anything.

If you are finding yourself looking for old email messages that have already been deleted on a regular basis, it might help to set up some storage folders in your email program and use them for messages that you might possibly want to access in the future.

If you are using Windows Mail (the email program that comes with Vista) you can easily add another folder for storage. Just click the drop down list next to the “New” button in your toolbar and then click on “Folder”

Type a name for your folder, click on your email address and then click the “OK” button.

Your new folder should appear in your list of folders.

Now, if you think you might want to refer back to a message in the future, you can drag that message to the, “keep” folder and leave it there.


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    • perldrivr
    • September 2, 2010

    Hi Computer Lady!

    I tip I like to use is to set your email program to leave a copy on the server. That way, if you want to see an email that has been deleted, you have a second chance by looking at your email on your ISP’s server with it’s webmail service. If you get a lot of email and want to make sure you don’t overload your inbox with your ISP, you can set emails to be removed from the server after a certain length of time, I usually set this to 14 days.

    An added benefit is you can still look at your emails from any internet computer, even if they have been downloaded to your usual machine.


    • mpsmom
    • September 17, 2010

    A couple more suggestions… make sure your email program is not set to automatically empty your trash file when you exit the program. And, 2, if this is an email that you forwarded to someone else, you might still have a copy of the original content in your sent folder (if you’re email program is set to save sent mail).

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