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My Inbox Disappeared From Gmail

Did that title scare you good?  Well listen up, kids, because I’m about to tell you a story that will give you nightmares.

Uh, and hopefully help you if this happens to you.  Or at least get you to make a few quick changes right now that may help you in the future.

So there I am, moving my iTunes library from one computer to another, and I pick up my phone to check my email.

[Aside: The fact that I was moving my iTunes library is not relevant to what happened, but I just want you to know that I was already in a very stressful technology situation.  Okay, and I was actually taking a break from moving my iTunes library and the ChickieNob was using my computer at the time.  But regardless, high stress with technology, get it?]

Inbox was there, happily storing all the emails I needed to return at the end of the day.  And then the inbox was gone.  White screen.  Totally empty.  What a weird glitch.

I closed down the email app and opened it again, expecting to see my inbox back on the screen.  But the inbox was still empty.  I bumped the ChickieNob from my computer and sat down to check my email.  Oh thank G-d my inbox is right there on the screen.  It must be a weird glitch with the phone that will right itself soon.  I’ll just push the refresh button on the computer to be sure.


Like gone.

Totally and completely gone.

I am panicking because I keep all sorts of important emails in my inbox plus there are all the emails that I hadn’t answered yet from that day.  I check folders to see if the emails have been archived, but they’re not there.

I remember one of the emails normally kept in my inbox contains a very unusual last name, so I use it as a search term and can’t find it in the account until I navigate down to a little link at the bottom of the page asking if I want to check in the trash.  Yes, Gmail, I want you to check everywhere.  Wherever you put my emails since you clearly know where they are.

And sure enough, that email is in with the thousands of emails in my trash.  I empty my trash every other week, but in between, it fills up with thousands of emails.  So I can find that one email because I can use the last name as the search term, but all those other emails?  I don’t remember their contents exactly.  All I know is that they were in my inbox; not the specifics of their contents.

I mean, could you list every email in your inbox right now?  No?  You just know that you want them, right?  Me too.


Getting them back meant going through the thousands of emails in the trash and sending the right ones back to the inbox.  I hopefully found them all, but in case I didn’t, I moved everything from the trash to a folder for the time being so it won’t be automatically deleted.

Next I starred everything I always wanted to keep in my inbox.  My hope, if this ever happens again, is that I can scan the trash for stars and find all the emails again.  It may not work, but it’s worth a try.  I used two different star colours to differentiate between emails that should be there all the time and emails that are waiting an answer or action.

Lastly, I’ve started scanning and emptying the trash once or twice a day.  I’ve found all sorts of interesting things in there including comment notifications and a few emails I actually want.  So now I’m being super careful with my email and not thinking it’s a given that everything will be where I want it to be.  Oh — and I’ve backed up my email.  Again, it’s not perfect, but if my inbox disappears again, it will give me something to look at as I try to reconstruct my inbox.

This seems like a very common glitch based on Googling results online.  If it happens to you, first check the trash.  But hopefully, if you starred your inbox right now, you can find and restore those emails pretty easily.

That’s your public service announcement for the day.


1 a { 04.13.16 at 8:58 am }

Yikes! That must have been a nightmare! I only have a few important emails in my gmail account.

2 Charlotte { 04.13.16 at 12:30 pm }

Holy hell. So what makes it actually send all of your emails to the trash??? That sounds like it’s a huge issue they need to fix!!!
As for me…everything I want to keep I leave in my inbox. So I have things several years old. I probably could survive without them, but I have let them there for a reason so knowing that they are there is a comfort. Maybe I should rethink this!

3 Cristy { 04.13.16 at 1:41 pm }

And now I need to clean out my inbox and back-up important emails. Because YIKES doesn’t begin to describe this craziness

4 ekhlas { 04.13.16 at 3:31 pm }

You know, it happened to me too!! the exact same thing, I was so pissed off because my brother emailed me my wedding video, its 32 years old but still i love watching it so much memories :):)
It was on VHS format and he transferred it to a DVD format and emailed it to me from back home, and i was so pissed off that I lost it, I never deleted it, and I thought I saved it to my laptop!! so I gave up and been asking my brother to email again but he is being lazy!! untilllllll I read your post here today, and for some reason a light went on and I was like what the hell I have google drive… so I went on it and what you know!?! I have it saved there!!! so thank you so much for this post :):)

5 Heather { 04.14.16 at 4:58 pm }

oh my gosh that is seriously a nightmare

6 Mali { 04.14.16 at 11:22 pm }

That freaks me out. I’m notorious for keeping things I need in my inbox.

7 illustr8d { 04.15.16 at 9:54 pm }

I have more than one email account and I’m slowly trying to get rid of everything in them and have them empty. Which means I need to print out a few things.


8 Jessie Francis { 04.16.16 at 1:03 am }

I didn’t know you could do different colored stars in Gmail!

9 Rajahbrooke { 05.25.16 at 8:10 am }

If you lose your emails just click on this https://support.google.com/mail/troubleshooter/4530113?hl=en
Tell Google the dates of the emails lost and even if it’s all Google will send them to you so quick you won’t believe it.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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