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Finding Lost Email Messages or Folders in OWA

Below are some common places to look for lost mail and lost folders. These instructions assume you’re using Outlook on the Web, though many of these recommendations are also applicable when using mail applications such as Outlook, Apple Mail, and Windows Mail.

Finding a Lost Message

If you are missing a message from your inbox or another folder, these are a few common places to check.

Search for the Message in Outlook on the Web

The simplest way to find a lost message is to search for it. In Outlook on the Web, you can start a search by clicking in the box in the top left corner of the page.
Outlook on the web Search bar.

A basic search for the name of the message sender, topic of the message, or other information specific to that message should be sufficient in most cases. However, it may be useful to refine your search using this Advanced Query Search article from Microsoft.

Check the search context

The default search context can vary, so make sure “All Folders” is chosen when searching in your primary mailbox. For secondary mailboxes, you may need to search each folder individually.

Junk Email Folder

There are a number of reasons an email may incorrectly appear in your Junk Email folder:

  • You accidentally moved the file to the Junk Email folder.
  • The sender is on your list of Blocked Senders.
  • You have a rule configured to move messages like this one to the Junk folder through an Email Filter.
  • The message was incorrectly marked as spam by our spam filter. The subject of these messages will start with [SPAM – Definite] or [SPAM?: ****].

Deleted Items or Trash Folder

If a message appears in your Deleted Items or Trash folder, this may have occurred because:

  • You accidentally moved this message to the Deleted Items or Trash folder.
  • You have a rule configured to move messages like this one to the Delete Items or Trash folder through an Email Filter.

Recover Deleted Items

Messages that have been emptied from the Trash or Deleted Items folder are recoverable for up to 90 days through the Recover Deleted Items feature. Messages will only appear in Recover Deleted Items if they have been accidentally deleted from your Trash or Deleted Items folders, or if they have been in your Deleted Items folder for more than 90 days.

You can view recoverable deleted items in Outlook on the Web by clicking Recover deleted items from this folder while you’re viewing your Deleted Items folder. Follow the instructions in this article to recover deleted mail: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/recover-deleted-email.Outlook on the web second stage Deleted Items.

Finding a Lost Folder

If you are missing an entire folder, these are some common places to search for it.

Deleted Items or Trash

It’s possible your folder was accidentally moved to your Trash or Deleted Items folder.

Click the chevron icon () next to your Trash or Deleted Items folder to expand it and search for your lost folder.

Expand and Search your Folders

It’s possible your folder was accidentally moved into another folder.

Click the chevron icon () next to each folder to expand them, then search for your folder.

Other Accounts

If you have other mail accounts added to your computer, it’s possible the lost folder was accidentally moved to another account.

Reviewing Blocked Senders and Email Filters

For more generic information and instructions on setting up Blocked Senders, Marking Senders as Safe, or creating Email Filters, please see this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/filtering-emails-in-outlook

Blocked Senders

If you block a sender, email from this sender will be automatically routed to your Junk Email folder.

If messages unexpectedly appear in your Junk Email folder, and are not marked with [Spam – Definite] or [Spam?:*****], it’s possible you have the sender accidentally blocked.

Click here to review your list of blocked senders

Email Filters/Inbox rules

Email filters/Inbox rules automatically process incoming mail. You can set up filters to automatically delete, redirect, mark mail as read, among a number of other options. Click here to view your email filters.

It’s important to configure your email filters to be appropriately specific to ensure you aren’t filtering messages in unintended or unexpected ways. For example, perhaps you create the following rule to automatically delete any “$400 dollars weekly” job offer emails.
Outlook mail Rules example.

This rule would delete any “$400 dollars weekly” job offer emails as desired. However, it would also unintentionally delete an email with the subject “Weekly Meeting”.

Rules like the one above should be reconfigured to more effectively target messages. For instructions on creating email filters, please see this article: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/filtering-emails-in-outlook.

Still Can’t Find Your Messages or Folders?

Submit a Ticket

If you still can’t find your message or folder using the instructions above, submit a Help Line ticket with the following information:

  1. Confirmation that you have followed the recommendations in this article.
  2. The last day and time that you saw the message or folder in your mailbox. Please be as specific as possible.
  3. The NetID of the account that is missing mail.
  4. For folders:
    1. The specific name of the folder
    2. The name of any sub-folder(s)
  5. For emails:
    1. The email subject(s)
    2. The email sender(s)
    3. If any, consistent search terms from the body of the message(s)
    4. If any, the other recipients of the email(s)
  6. It may also be useful to include information about your computer, including:
    1. The email client you are using, including the version of that client, i.e. Outlook, version 16.31
    2. Your Operating System and Version, i.e. macOS 10.15, Catalina

Updated on December 12, 2023

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