Recover your lost draft in Outlook

Lost Your Draft Email in Outlook? Here's How to Get It Back

Losing a draft email in Microsoft Outlook can be a frustrating experience, especially when the message contained crucial information or required significant effort to compose. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods to recover lost draft emails in Outlook. Whether you're a busy professional or a casual user, these strategies will help you retrieve your drafts and avoid future mishaps.

Key Takeaways

  • Check the Drafts and Deleted Items folders first when a draft email goes missing in Outlook.

  • Utilize the Undo feature (Ctrl + Z) immediately after losing a draft to potentially recover it.

  • Consider disabling Cached Exchange Mode and accessing Outlook Web as troubleshooting steps.

  • Repairing the Outlook profile can help resolve issues with saving and retrieving draft emails.

  • Prevention is key: regularly save drafts, familiarize yourself with Outlook features, and consider backups to avoid future losses.

Checking the Drafts Folder

One of the first places you should look when your draft email seems to have vanished in Microsoft Outlook is the Drafts folder. This folder is designed to automatically save your email drafts, allowing you to return to them later. Here's how you can navigate to and check your Drafts folder in Outlook:

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook: Launch the Outlook application on your computer.

  2. Navigate to the Folders Pane: On the left side of the Outlook window, you'll see a list of folders. If you don't see the folders pane, you may need to expand it by clicking on the arrow or pane divider.

  3. Find the Drafts Folder: Scroll through the list of folders until you find one labeled "Drafts." This is where Outlook automatically saves unfinished emails.

  4. Check Your Drafts: Click on the Drafts folder to open it. Here, you should see a list of all email drafts you've started but haven't sent. Look through the list to find the draft email you're missing.

  5. Open and Continue Editing: Once you find your draft, double-click on it to open it. You can now continue editing or send the email as needed. If you're unsure about how to edit a scheduled email in Gmail, you can check out this guide.

It's important to note that if you use multiple email accounts in Outlook, each account will have its own Drafts folder. Make sure you're checking the Drafts folder for the correct email account.

If you're new to Outlook or need a visual guide on navigating the interface, including finding the Drafts folder, this video might be helpful:

Remember, the Drafts folder is your first line of defense in recovering a lost draft email. It's a simple yet effective place to start your search.

Utilizing the Undo Feature

Accidentally deleting or losing a draft email in Outlook can happen in the blink of an eye, but sometimes the solution is just as quick. The Undo feature in Outlook can be a lifesaver in such situations. Here's how to use it:

  1. Act Quickly: The Undo feature is most effective immediately after you've lost your draft. It's crucial to act fast because once you perform another action in Outlook, you may not be able to undo the previous one.

  2. Use the Shortcut: Press Ctrl + Z on your keyboard. This is the shortcut for the Undo action in Microsoft Outlook (and most Windows applications). If your draft was accidentally deleted or closed without saving, this action might bring it back.

  3. Check the Drafts Folder: After using the Undo feature, navigate back to your Drafts folder to see if your email has been recovered. If successful, you should find your draft email back in its place.

  4. Limitations: It's important to understand the limitations of the Undo feature. It can only reverse your last action and is dependent on not having performed another action since losing your draft. Additionally, if Outlook was closed or crashed, the Undo feature won't be able to recover your draft.

For a visual guide on how to use the Undo feature and other tips for managing emails in Outlook, you might find this video helpful:

Remember, the Undo feature (Ctrl + Z) is a quick and easy first step to attempt the recovery of a lost draft email in Outlook. However, its success is contingent on immediate action and the absence of subsequent actions that could override the chance of recovery.

Searching the Deleted Items Folder

Sometimes, draft emails can accidentally be deleted, leading you to think they've vanished. However, there's a good chance your lost draft has simply moved to the Deleted Items folder in Outlook. Here's how to search this folder and potentially recover your draft:

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook: Start by launching the Outlook application on your computer.

  2. Navigate to the Deleted Items Folder: On the left side of the Outlook window, look for the folder labeled "Deleted Items." This is where all deleted emails, including drafts, are temporarily stored.

  3. Search for Your Draft: Once you're in the Deleted Items folder, you can scroll through the emails or use the search bar at the top to find your draft. If you remember any specific words or phrases from your draft, typing them into the search bar can help narrow down the results.

  4. Recover the Draft: When you find your draft email, right-click on it and select "Move" > "Other Folder..." > "Drafts" to move it back to your Drafts folder. Alternatively, you can simply drag and drop the email into the Drafts folder.

  5. Check the Drafts Folder: After moving the email, navigate back to your Drafts folder to ensure the draft has been successfully recovered. You can now continue editing or send the email as needed.

For a visual guide on how to recover emails from the Deleted Items folder in Outlook, including draft emails, this tutorial can be quite helpful:

It's important to note that emails in the Deleted Items folder are not permanently stored and can be automatically or manually purged from Outlook. Therefore, it's advisable to recover any important drafts as soon as possible to avoid permanent loss.

By checking the Deleted Items folder, you have a good chance of recovering a draft email that was accidentally deleted. This simple step can save you the time and effort of having to recreate the email from scratch.

Disabling Cached Exchange Mode

Cached Exchange Mode in Microsoft Outlook is a feature designed to enhance performance by keeping a copy of your mailbox stored on your local computer. While this feature can improve your experience with Outlook, it can sometimes cause issues with missing drafts or other items. Disabling Cached Exchange Mode may help in recovering lost draft emails by forcing Outlook to directly connect to the server and update all folders, including Drafts. Here's how to disable Cached Exchange Mode:

  1. Open Outlook and Access Account Settings: Launch Microsoft Outlook, click on the "File" tab in the upper left corner, and then select "Account Settings" > "Account Settings" from the dropdown menu.

  2. Change Account Settings: In the Account Settings window, highlight your email account and click on "Change."

  3. Disable Cached Exchange Mode: In the Change Account window, look for the "Use Cached Exchange Mode" checkbox. Uncheck this box to disable Cached Exchange Mode.

  4. Restart Outlook: After unchecking the box, click "Next," then "Finish," and close the Account Settings window. You will need to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

  5. Check Your Drafts Folder: Once Outlook restarts, it will take a moment to synchronize with the server. After synchronization is complete, check your Drafts folder again to see if your missing draft email has reappeared.

For a visual guide on how to disable Cached Exchange Mode in Outlook, you might find this video tutorial helpful:

It's important to note that disabling Cached Exchange Mode might result in slower performance, especially if you have a large mailbox or a slow internet connection. Therefore, it's recommended to use this method as a troubleshooting step for recovering lost drafts and consider re-enabling Cached Exchange Mode once the issue is resolved.

By following these steps, you can disable Cached Exchange Mode in Outlook, which may help in recovering lost draft emails by ensuring your mailbox is fully synchronized with the server.

Using Outlook Web

Sometimes, the issue with missing draft emails in Microsoft Outlook might be related to the desktop application itself. In such cases, accessing your account through Outlook Web (also known as Outlook on the web or OWA) can be a useful workaround. This method allows you to bypass potential glitches in the desktop app and directly interact with your mailbox on the server. Here's how to use Outlook Web to potentially recover your lost draft email:

  1. Access Outlook Web: Open your preferred web browser and navigate to the Outlook Web login page ( Sign in with your email address and password associated with your Outlook account.

  2. Navigate to the Drafts Folder: Once logged in, look for the "Drafts" folder in the folder pane on the left side of the screen. Click on it to view any draft emails saved on the server.

  3. Search for Your Missing Draft: Browse through the drafts to see if you can find the email that was missing in the desktop application. You can also use the search bar at the top to help locate your draft by entering keywords or phrases from the email.

  4. Edit or Send the Draft: If you find your missing draft in Outlook Web, you can open it, continue editing, or send it directly from the web interface. If you're unsure about how to write a professional thank you email for business, you can check out this guide.

  5. Check the Desktop App Again: After locating and possibly editing/sending the draft via Outlook Web, you might want to check the desktop application again. Sometimes, accessing your account through the web interface can help sync and update your mailbox, making previously missing items reappear in the desktop app.

Using Outlook Web as an alternative to the desktop application can not only help in recovering lost draft emails but also serve as a useful troubleshooting step to identify if the issue is with the desktop app or the account itself. This method ensures you have direct access to your mailbox on the server, potentially bypassing any synchronization issues present in the desktop application.

Repairing the Outlook Profile

If you've tried the previous methods and still can't locate your lost draft email, it might be time to consider repairing your Outlook profile. A corrupted Outlook profile can cause various issues, including problems with saving and retrieving draft emails. Repairing your profile can resolve these issues by resetting the connection between Outlook and your mail server. Here's how to repair your Outlook profile:

  1. Close Microsoft Outlook: Ensure that the Outlook application is completely closed before you begin the repair process.

  2. Open Control Panel: Press the Windows key on your keyboard, type "Control Panel," and press Enter. Depending on your version of Windows, you may need to select "View by: Small icons" to see all Control Panel items.

  3. Access Mail Settings: In the Control Panel, find and click on "Mail (Microsoft Outlook)" to open the Mail Setup dialog box.

  4. Show Profiles: Click on the "Show Profiles" button. This will display a list of all the profiles associated with Outlook on your computer.

  5. Select Your Profile: Highlight the profile you're experiencing issues with (usually, there's only one) and click on the "Properties" button.

  6. Start the Repair Process: In the Mail Setup dialog box for your profile, click on the "Email Accounts" button. Then, select the email account you wish to repair and click the "Repair" button. Follow the prompts in the repair wizard, which will attempt to automatically fix any issues with your account settings.

  7. Complete the Repair and Restart Outlook: Once the repair process is complete, close all dialog boxes and open Microsoft Outlook again. Check your Drafts folder to see if the lost draft email has been recovered.

For a visual guide on repairing an Outlook profile, you might find this tutorial helpful:

It's important to note that repairing your Outlook profile does not affect your emails, contacts, calendar items, or other personal data. The repair process focuses on fixing the connection between Outlook and your mail server, which can resolve issues preventing you from accessing your draft emails.

By repairing your Outlook profile, you can address underlying issues that may be causing problems with saving or retrieving draft emails, potentially recovering lost drafts and improving the overall stability of your Outlook application. If you're interested in learning more about the cost of business emails, you can check out this article.


In conclusion, losing draft emails in Microsoft Outlook can be a disheartening experience, but as we've explored, there are multiple strategies you can employ to recover them. From checking the Drafts and Deleted Items folders to utilizing features like the Undo option, disabling Cached Exchange Mode, accessing Outlook Web, and repairing your Outlook profile, each method offers a potential solution to retrieve your lost drafts. While not every technique may work for every situation, the combination of these approaches increases your chances of recovery. Remember, prevention is key; regularly saving your drafts and familiarizing yourself with Outlook's features can help avoid future losses. With the right steps and a bit of patience, you can mitigate the impact of lost draft emails and ensure your Outlook experience remains productive and stress-free.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do first when I notice my draft email is missing in Outlook?

First, don't panic. Quickly check your Drafts folder as Outlook automatically saves drafts there. If it's not in Drafts, use the Undo feature (Ctrl + Z) if the loss just occurred. Next, check the Deleted Items folder, as the draft might have been accidentally deleted.

Can I recover a draft email that was not manually saved?

Yes, Outlook automatically saves drafts in the Drafts folder. If you haven't manually saved a draft, it's likely to be found there. If it's not visible, try accessing your account through Outlook Web, as this can sometimes reveal emails not showing in the desktop app.

Is there a way to recover hard-deleted draft emails from the 'Deleted Items' folder?

Recovering hard-deleted emails (permanently deleted) can be challenging. However, if your account is on an Exchange server, your server administrator might be able to recover it. For non-Exchange accounts, using third-party recovery software might be your best option.

How can using Outlook Web help in recovering a lost draft email?

Outlook Web accesses your mailbox directly on the server, bypassing any issues specific to the desktop app. If a draft isn't showing up in the desktop app due to synchronization problems or glitches, it might still be visible and recoverable through Outlook Web.

What are some best practices to prevent losing draft emails in Outlook in the future?

Regularly saving your drafts and not relying solely on auto-save is crucial. Additionally, familiarize yourself with Outlook's recovery features, such as the Undo button and the Deleted Items folder. Disabling Cached Exchange Mode can also help prevent synchronization issues that might lead to lost drafts. Lastly, consider backing up your Outlook data regularly.