Accidentally Deleted Thunderbird Sent Emails

  griffon56 13:43 18 Mar 2015

Hi All,

On a Packard Bell iMedia Desktop PC running W7-64 bit, I've accidentally deleted most of the emails in the 'Sent' folder of Thunderbird. A disaster. How can I get them back? I've tried 'Recuva' which does get back two compressed files which Windows cannot open. If that's where they are how can I open the files, please?

For more info, the deletion occurred because I accidentally highlighted the 'Recipient' header of the 'Sent' folder and when I moved the mouse it must have dragged across the 'Delete' button at the bottom right of the list. I suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and have numb fingers on the right and did not feel the mouse button being pressed. I've tried the 'Undo' function in the 'Edit' menu but it did not work.

There's a lot of important stuff in the deleted mails and I'd dearly like to get them back. Your prompt help would be very much appreciated.


  northumbria61 14:30 18 Mar 2015

By default, the Application Data folder where your Thunderbird profile is stored is hidden. Take a look at How to recover deleted emails in Thunderbird and scroll down to see how to show hidden files and folders

  Jollyjohn 16:18 18 Mar 2015

I am off to work now, will check back in morning and suggest help, if still needed.

Check your account settings - what have you told Thunderbird to do with Trash?

  Secret-Squirrel 16:57 18 Mar 2015

Griffon, Sorry if you think I'm stating the obvious but have you checked Thunderbird's "Deleted" folder? If your missing sent messages aren't in there, and you didn't empty it, then they probably haven't been deleted and may be just hiding from you:

Just above the Sent messages window you may have the "Quick Filter" toolbar. If you do then you may have inadvertently pressed the "Show only unread messages" button which will make most (if not all) your messages disappear from view. The button looks like a pair of sunglasses. If it's depressed then click it again. The other Quick Filter buttons will also give similar results so check those too.

  robin_x 17:15 18 Mar 2015

Default is they will still be in Trash/Deleted folder.

Select them all and Copy and Paste or Drag and Drop back to correct place.


Backup the current situation first in case of problems

How to backup Thunderbird Profile

Some Thunderbird emails may only be on the server. You can force download and keep on the computer too.

Press Alt key to show Menu bar if it's not showing.

Click File > Offline > Offline settings > Advanced

Select all folders Ok and Ok.

Click File > Offline > Download Sync Now

Backup profile again (you can never be too careful)


Note that some Servers may clear Deleted items overnight.

1]: [click here

  Secret-Squirrel 09:25 19 Mar 2015

"There's a lot of important stuff in the deleted mails and I'd dearly like to get them back. Your prompt help would be very much appreciated."

OK, so have you managed to find them? I find it hard to believe that you can permanently delete them all with a slip of the finger.

  griffon56 13:38 23 Mar 2015

Thank you all for your logical and well-thought-out advice. I have been unable to get back to you before now thro' having to deal with a leaky roof tank which was a bigger problem. That's now fixed and I THINK the email problem may now also be fixed. Some time ago I got slightly concerned about losses and had had a mixed experience years ago with MozBackup by Jaznapaka so I decided to copy selected mails to myself.

Whilst looking for the missing mails thro' Trash and Junk and all the others I've got filters for, I opened my named folder and there were the emails. They should not have been there. None of them were addressed to me. I haven't had time to go thro' them all to conclusively check that they are all there, but something peculiar must have happened because not all the Sent ones disappeared from that folder, there were still some remaining from 2010.

Regarding the comment that it is almost impossible to delete anything so comprehensively with one click, I agree, I thought so too, but on the occasion when the Sent emails went missing I was actually dragging the mouse pointer unintentionally, because of numb fingers, down the right hand side of Thunderbird's screen, and thus highlighting the mails, finishing up on whatever button it was that removed them from view. Whatever happened, they did disappear and it looks as tho' I've now got access to them again. Thank you all once again for your good advice, does anybody know another program for backing up Thunderbird apart from the one I mentioned. To be honest, I've never found backing up anything to be completely trouble-free, for example, Windows Backup turned out not to be incremental but backed up everything each time it was used despite the setting, and did any of you use that appalling Iomega cassette system of a few years ago. It wouldn't let you start a back-up on a fresh cassette unless you put in the previous one, which it then tried to delete and re-format!

Thanks again.


  robin_x 14:15 23 Mar 2015

Thanks-for the update.

You can fully backup Thunderbird by copying the Profile as explained above.

  Jollyjohn 15:07 23 Mar 2015

Yes, copying the profile is the best way. When I re install the OS, as I do from time to time, I simply copy the old profile into the new installation and everything is there, messages, contacts and junk settings.

  Secret-Squirrel 17:43 23 Mar 2015

"..........does anybody know another program for backing up Thunderbird......."

If you just want to backup personal data (such as documents, photos, emails, etc) then Microsoft's free "SyncToy" is effective, fast, and really easy to use. There's a tutorial here if you're interested.

To backup all your Thunderbird data (emails, contacts, etc) then simply use Robin's instructions to backup your profile folder.

Thanks for returning with some feedback by the way.

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