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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 Big Sur Ready!
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 Live.com) 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.
5 Easy Steps

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.
recover deleted emails on mac

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.
how to recover deleted emails mac

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.
find deleted emails on mac

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.
how to recover deleted email on mac

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.
how to recover deleted emails on mac

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®, Delkin®, Lexar®
  • Other
    Other
    Sony®, Transcend®, LG®, ADATA®

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.
  • Video
    Video
    AVI, FLV (Flash video), MKV (Matroska Video), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), BRAW (Blackmagic raw video format), SWF (Flash movie)
  • Audio
    Audio
    AU (Audacity audio files), M4A (Apple Lossless Audio), MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), OGG (Ogg Vorbis Compressed audio file)
  • Images
    Images
    AI (Adobe Illustrator), CR2 (Canon Raw Image), DNG (Digital Negative), GPR (GoPro raw image format), NEF (Nikon camera RAW image)
  • Documents
    Documents
    APK (Android Package), CS (Visual C# Source Code File), DOCX (Microsoft Word), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  • Archives
    Archives
    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.

You Could Avoid Losing Your Emails!

Disk Drill is famous for its free data protection algorithms Guaranteed Recovery and Recovery Vault. They might be of great help when you get your local email database accidentally deleted. Recovering your data from Disk Drill's protected data storage is reliable and included in the free Disk Drill Basic edition.

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.
mail recovery

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 deleted emails mac

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.
how to retrieve permanently deleted emails from mac

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.
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