Drafts can be a lifesaver, providing a critical save point when crafting an important email. But what happens when a draft in your Outlook disappears before you hit send? Panic might be your first response, but with this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover how to recover deleted drafts in Outlook on various platforms like (Office 365) Desktop Application, Web Browser, and iPhone App.
As a long-term Outlook user, I have experienced this issue many times, especially when I access the same email account from different devices and platforms. So, here I’m going to come up with the solutions and steps you can do to bring back the deleted or missing drafts.
Why We May Lose Draft Emails in Outlook
Before exploring how to recover unsent draft emails, let’s find out the reasons for losing the drafts.
Through some good news, you will rarely miss or lose drafts in Outlook. Microsoft Outlook has a good mechanism for saving drafts frequently. Except you or someone deletes the draft emails purposely from the draft folder, you are good with the default settings.
Here are some additional reasons:
- The Outlook application crashed while drafting the email, so it could not save the first draft or update the existing draft email with the changes.
- No internet or LAN is available with the mail servers. If Outlook can’t sync the draft copy with the local Exchange server or Office 365 online servers, you may not find the same copy of the email.
- The Outlook data (mostly the OST or PST file) is corrupted.
- There could be some other issues with the sync process, such as password expiry or credential issues.
How to Recover a Deleted Draft in Outlook
The usual mail restore method discussed below will only work if you find the deleted draft in the deleted folder.
Suppose you or someone purposely deleted the draft from the deleted folder or deleted it with the SHIFT key (which deletes the email without sending it to the deleted folder); in that case, you may have difficulty recovering it.
Undo Option in Outlook Application
If you mistakenly deleted a draft and realized it immediately, the undo option is handy.
After realizing deleting a draft in Outlook, immediately click on the Undo button (or the Ctrl + Z) from the same screen. This will return the deleted draft to the same folder you were working on.
From Deleted Items Folder – Desktop Application
- Open Outlook: Start by launching the Outlook desktop application.
- Access the Deleted Items Folder: Locate and click on the “Deleted Items” folder on the left pane.
- Search for Your Draft: Look for the deleted draft email within the Deleted Items folder.
- Restore the Draft: Right-click on the draft and select “Move” then “Other Folder.” Choose the “Drafts” folder and click “OK” to restore it.
You can even drag and drop the mail from the deleted folder to the Draft folder (or any other folder)
Web Browser (Office 365 and OWA)
If you access your email via a web browser, you can follow the below steps.
- Log into Office 365 Outlook Online: Visit outlook.office365.com and sign in with your credentials. This is also applicable for Exchange OWA URLs.
- Navigate to the Deleted Items Folder: Find the “Deleted Items” or “Trash” folder in the left pane.
- Look for the Deleted Draft: Browse through the deleted items to find your draft.
- Recover the Draft: Click on the deleted draft, then click on the “Restore” button to return it to your “Drafts” folder.
It is almost the same way to restore deleted drafts in the Outlook mobile app on iPhone and Android.
- Open the App: Tap on the Outlook app on your iPhone.
- Go to the Deleted Items Folder: Scroll down the sidebar menu and select the “Deleted Items” folder.
- Find the Deleted Draft: Browse the folder for your lost draft.
- Move the Draft Back: Tap on the draft to select it, then click on the “Move” button and choose the “Drafts” folder to restore it. Also, you can click the Restore option to restore the email to its original folder.
Alternative Methods of Recovery
If you can’t locate your draft in the Deleted Items folder, don’t despair! Here are some alternative methods you can try:
Recover Deleted Items Tool:
This tool can recover deleted items from the email server even if you can’t find it locally in Outlook.
Navigate to “Recover Deleted Items From Server” via the “Folder” tab in the desktop app, or find “Recover items recently removed from this folder” in the web app.
This will retrieve the deleted items from the email server, where you can select individual or multiple items to recover their original path. Look for the deled draft in this folder if you are lucky enough to find it and restore it.
This method depends on the data recovery policy settings configured by your Exchange or Office 365 administrator.
As I mentioned earlier, corruption in the OST or PST Outlook files can cause the loss of draft emails. Repairing these files can help you to recover the drafts. But from my experience, you need to think twice before repairing huge Outlook data files just for one or two draft emails (which can be written well again).
Anyhow, if you want to repair the PST files, there are several third-party data recovery tools available for this purpose.
Microsoft has its built-in scanpst program (SCANPST.EXE) as part of Office installation. You can find more about it and how to use it from the official website here.
Contact Microsoft Support
If all else fails, contacting Microsoft Support might help, especially if your email account is connected to a business or educational institution.
Prevention is Better than Cure: How to Avoid Losing Drafts
Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is not having one in the first place. Here are a few ways you can prevent losing drafts. Especially when you are composing an essential email with lots of data and attachments, you must follow the steps below.
- Regularly Save Your Drafts: While Outlook auto-saves drafts, it’s best to save complex emails to ensure nothing is lost manually.
- Be Mindful of the Delete Button: Be careful when deleting items to avoid accidentally deleting drafts.
- Organize Your Drafts Folder: Regularly organize your drafts folder to make sure you don’t accidentally delete important drafts.
Losing an email draft in Outlook can seem like a disaster, but with this guide, you can recover and even prevent such losses. Remember, the key is regular saving, cautious deleting, and properly organizing your drafts folder.