How to Recover Deleted Emails on Mac

Apple Mail and many other email clients store data locally on your Mac. This is a handy feature but when something goes wrong you may find yourself missing hundreds or even thousands of valuable emails. Disk Drill can help recover those valuable personal or work emails in a few simple steps. macOS Sonoma Ready!

How to recover deleted email
how to recover deleted emails on mac

Email data loss can occur for many reasons including damaged hardware and accidental deletion. Regardless of the cause of the data loss Disk Drill can help recover email databases or storage containers used by common email clients such as Apple Mail, Outlook for Mac, Mailbird and many more. Disk Drill can help recover email when the data is stored locally, this means that if you only use email online (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or through your browser Disk Drill, unfortunately, would not be able to help.

If you are reading this article you are likely wondering how to recover deleted email from Gmail or how to recover deleted Yahoo email. The good news is that these files can still be recovered if you had your Gmail or Yahoo account linked to Apple Mail, Outlook, Mailbird or another desktop email client on your Mac.

This is a quick start guide to help you recover deleted email. Check out other in-depth instructions on how to use Disk Drill and the different methods of data recovery.


Recover Deleted Mail on Mac with Disk Drill

Use these steps to recover your lost mail on Mac with Disk Drill data recovery software.

1. Download and Install the Software

Download and Install Disk Drill Email Recovery Software for Mac. Since you will be restoring data that was most likely deleted from your machine’s main drive, DO NOT use that drive for downloading and installing the application. We recommend using a flash drive or external hard drive when downloading Disk Drill.

Download and Install the Software

2. Select the drive

Launch Disk Drill and choose your Mac’s main hard drive from the app’s disk list. If you are recovering email stored on an external storage device, connect it to your Mac computer before starting the application.

Select the drive

3. Scan for lost data

Click the Recover button to start scanning for lost data. Disk Drill will automatically run all of its scanning algorithms in the optimal order which ensures the best performance when retrieving deleted files. You can also control the specific scans that are run and may want to try a quick scan if you are in a hurry. Deep scans can be used to uncover hard-to-find files and will investigate the disk on a sector-by-sector basis to reconstruct and recover lost data.

Scan for lost data

4. Recover the deleted mail file

Select the email file from the list of recoverable items displayed by Disk Drill. Choose a safe storage location at which to save the file that is not on the same disk as the deleted file you are recovering. This protects you from accidentally overwriting the file during the recovery process.

Recover the deleted mail file

5. Import the Recovered Email File

You need to import the recovered email file to use it in your Apple Mail client. Use these steps:

  1. Open Apple Mail.
  2. Click File -> Import Mailboxes.
  3. Select Apple Mail as the data type.
  4. Navigate to the folder where Disk Drill has recovered your deleted email and select Choose.
  5. Click the Continue button to begin to import the recovered email.
  6. Click Done when prompted and take note of the name of the Mailbox where your recovered emails are now located.
Import the Recovered Email File

Why it is Possible to Recover Deleted Emails from Apple Mail?

The method that macOS uses to delete data enables deleted email messages to be recovered by data recovery software. When you instruct the operating system to delete a file, it is not immediately removed from your hard drive. Instead, the logical links that make the data available to the OS and other applications are deleted and the space occupied by the item is marked as available for use.

This fact is what enables deleted email files to be recovered as long as you act quickly. You need to restore the lost data before its space is reused by the operating system to store new items. We recommend that you stop using the hard drive as soon as you realize that data has been lost. Don’t use it until you are finished recovering the deleted emails.

Recover Deleted Emails from Any Storage Device

No matter what type of device you use to store email files, if it can be connected to your Mac, Disk Drill can recover its deleted data. From external drives to memory cards, all forms of disk-based storage devices are supported for recovery.

Internal Hard Drive
Internal Hard Drive

Seagate®, Western Digital®, Toshiba®, G-Technology®

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive

Maxone®, KESU®, Silicon Power®, LaCie®

Hybrid Hard Drive
Hybrid Hard Drive

Seagate®, WD®, Fantom Drives®, Dell®

USB Flash Drive
USB Flash Drive

Samsung®, SanDisk®, Kingston®, Corsair®

SD / CF Card
SD / CF Card

Lexar®, Hoodman®,


Sony®, Transcend®, LG®,

Recover Any Type of Deleted File

Disk Drill can recover more than lost email files. Deep scans can recognize and restore over 400 different file types. The recovery tool supports all major video, audio, image, document, and archive file types. Filter files during recovery to quickly find the items you need.

AVI, FLV (Flash video), MKV (Matroska Video), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), BRAW (Blackmagic raw video format), SWF (Flash movie)
AU (Audacity audio files), M4A (Apple Lossless Audio), MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), OGG (Ogg Vorbis Compressed audio file)
AI (Adobe Illustrator), CR2 (Canon Raw Image), DNG (Digital Negative), GPR (GoPro raw image format), NEF (Nikon camera RAW image)
APK (Android Package), CS (Visual C# Source Code File), DOCX (Microsoft Word), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
7Z (7-Zip Compressed), CAB (Windows Cabinet File), ISO (ISO-9660 CD Disc Image), RAR (WinRAR Compressed Archive)
Other Files
Other Files
M (Objective-C Implementation File), JKS (Java KeyStore), SQL (bundled SQL queries), MYO (MYOB Limited Windows File), PSS (Password Saver)

Recover Locally Stored Emails from any Provider

The Apple Mail client can be used to view and manage emails from many different providers. From its unified interface, you can access your emails from iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, Outlook, and Exchange. Local copies of emails from these providers will all be found in your Apple Mail folder at ~/Library/Mail/V8 and can be recovered by restoring the mailbox files if they are deleted.

email recovery software

Other Methods for Recovering Erased Mac Email Files

Here are some other methods that may help recover erased or lost email files on your Mac.


Recover Deleted Mac Mail Messages from Trash

If you have accidentally deleted an email file, you may be able to recover it from your Mac’s Trash. Due to the size of some email files, it may have been too large to fit in the space allocated for your Mac’s Trash Bin.

  1. Open the Trash by clicking its icon.
  2. Locate the file you want to recover.
  3. Right-click on your selection and choose Put Back.
Recover Deleted Mac Mail Messages from Trash

Recover Permanently Erased Emails from Apple Mail with Time Machine

Here’s how to retrieve permanently deleted emails from Mac using a Time Machine backup.

  1. Connect the storage device that contains the backup to your computer.
  2. Open a Finder window in the folder that held the email file.
  3. Open Time Machine by clicking on its clock icon in the menu bar.
  4. Locate the files you want to recover with the timeline and up and down arrow keys.
  5. Select an item and press Spacebar to preview it.
  6. Click Restore to recover the selected item.
Recover Permanently Erased Emails from Apple Mail with Time Machine

Recover Deleted Emails From Within the Mail Client

You can recover a deleted email on a Mac from within the mail client using the following procedure.

  1. Open the Trash folder in the Apple Mail client.
  2. Locate the message you want to recover.
  3. Right-click on the email and select move to and choose a folder where the message will be saved.
Recover Deleted Emails From Within the Mail Client

Hire Professionals to Recover Your Lost Email Files

While it’s certainly possible to recover lost emails from a Mac at home, sometimes it’s better to take advantage of professional data recovery services and avoid the risk of making a mistake during the recovery process, possibly ruining your only chance at retrieving critically important email messages and attachments.

Data recovery professionals have a wealth of experience and access to advanced tools & facilities, so they can perform difficult hardware repairs to recover emails from physically damaged storage devices.

The cost of professional email recovery is almost always higher than the cost of DIY data recovery methods, but the most trustworthy data recovery centers offer free evaluations and charge only for recovered data.

Hire Professionals to Recover Your Lost Email Files

Recover Erased Mac Email Files from a Third-Party Backup

Many third-party backup applications can create full-disk backups that include all applications plus their settings and data. Disk Drill’s Byte-to-Byte Backup feature is a great example, and it’s very easy to recover erased Mac emails from a backup created by it:

  1. Launch Disk Drill.
  2. Click Attach disk image.
  3. Select the attached image and click Search for lost data.
  4. Review found items and go through the results to select your emails.
  5. Click Recover and choose a suitable recovery folder.
Recover Erased Mac Email Files from a Third-Party Backup

Retrieve Emails From any Data Loss Situation

Disk Drill can help you recover from all kinds of data loss scenarios. Here are some of the most common situations you may encounter.

Accidental file deletion

Accidental file deletion

You can easily accidentally delete an email file while cleaning ups your Mac’s main hard drive.

Formatted drive

Formatted drive

Inadvertently formatting a drive can result in a large data loss including all of your saved emails.

Operating system crash

Operating system crash

If macOS crashes while mail is open, the file that contains archived emails can be deleted or lost.

Faulty OS installation

Faulty OS installation

During a failed or faulty OS installation, random data loss can occur including your email file.

Virus or malware infection

Virus or malware infection

Infection with a virus or malware often results in data loss and email files may be targeted.

Failing storage device

Failing storage device

A failing storage device can accumulate bad sectors that lead to a lost or unusable email file.

When Is It Not Possible to Recover Deleted Email on Mac?

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it’s not possible to recover deleted emails no matter how hard you try or which method you use. If at least one of the following conditions is met, then your emails can still be recovered:

You have a recent backup

You have a recent backup

If you have a recent local backup of your emails, then you can start celebrating because you should be able to recover them from it without any issues.

Your emails haven’t been permanently deleted yet

Your emails haven’t been permanently deleted yet

When you delete an email message or attachment from your computer, the data remain physically stored on your computer until they become overwritten, giving you a chance to recover them using specialized software. Note: this isn’t the case if your hard drive is encrypted.

Your emails are stored on your email server

Your emails are stored on your email server

Most email clients leave copies of retrieved email messages on the email server, making it easy for you to download them to your computer.


Fortunately, it’s quite rare for none of the three above-described conditions to not be met at the same time, so your email recovery chances are relatively high.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How do I restore mail on my Mac?

Use the following procedure to restore all emails deleted from your MacBook Air.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Start the program and select the disk that contained the lost mailbox.
  3. Click Recover to scan for lost data.
  4. Restore the deleted mail file.
  5. Import the mailbox into the Apple Mail client.

Can you recover permanently deleted emails on Mac?

You may be able to recover permanently deleted emails on Mac by using a backup made with Time Machine or another backup solution.

Where are emails stored on Mac?

The email file for the Apple Mail is stored in a hidden folder for each user and is located at ~/Library/Mail/V8.

How do I find missing emails on my Mac?

Try these methods of finding missing emails or lost messages on a Mac.

  • Make sure you’re looking at messages for the correct account.
  • Sorted messages may not in the order you expect.
  • Check if you are blocking messages from a particular sender.
  • Rules may have moved messages to other mailboxes.
  • Check the account’s Recovered Messages mailbox, if available in the Mail sidebar.
  • Quit Mail, then reopen it.

How do I permanently delete emails from my Mac?

Permanently delete emails from the Apple Mail client with the following procedure.

  1. Choose Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items
  2. Select an account and confirm the deletion when prompted by the OS.

Why do my emails disappear on my iMac?

Some of the most common reasons that emails disappear from a Mac include:

  • Virus or malware attacks on the system.
  • Improper configuration of the Apple Mail account.
  • Introduction of bugs after a system update.

Other Scenarios

More about email recovery

See what Disk Drill fans say

Jeff Porten Jeff Porten
Disk Drill is perhaps most notable in its agnosticism about drive formats: it can handle crashed drives in Mac's own HFS+ format as well as Windows FAT and NTFS and lost data on solid state cards used in portable electronics.
Read more
Derek Antti, Business Management Information Systems, San Jose State University Derek Antti, Business Management Information Systems, San Jose State University
Disk Drill Data Recovery Review This software is simply amazing. I needed to recover some lost photos from an old MacBook Pro hard drive. I had searched around the web for a solution but did not feel confident in the products I came across. A Professor of mine suggested that I use Disk Drill to recover this data, with ease I had my lost data quickly and easily secured. One great feature was the ability to immediately start searching through the recovered files during a quick or deep scan. The files I longed for were populated almost immediately, and could be opened even before the scan was completed. Sorting by name, kind, size, and modification date allowed for easy scrubbing of the large amounts of data. Some important data I did not originally seek was also recovered which was the “cherry on top” of my experience, I never thought that I would see this data again. I cannot wait to share the benefits of this software with my friends and family — truly magic and highly recommended!
Read more
Used by world famous companies