Outlook 2010 – Deleting Emails

Outlook LogoI love to share knowledge because I believe knowledge is power. Recently, I shared on my Facebook page a tip about how to delete emails permanently from your Inbox. This led to some discussion on the topic, which I want to share with you in this week’s post.  


To Delete an Item

There are three ways of deleting items (Emails, Calendar Items, Notes, Tasks, etc.) in Outlook 2010.

Option 1: Highlight the item to be deleted and press the [Delete] key on your keyboard. The item will be moved to your “Deleted Items” folder.

Option 2: Right-click on the item and choose “Delete” from the shortcut menu. The item will be moved to your “Deleted Items” folder.

Note: You still have the option to recover an Outlook item sent to the “Deleted Items” folder.

Option 3: Press [SHIFT] [Delete] on your keyboard. The item is permanently deleted and is not moved to your “Deleted Items” folder. Therefore, you will not have the option to recover an Outlook item once you answer “Yes” in the following message window.

Outlook 2010 – Deleting Emails

Note: Perfect candidates for [SHIFT] [Delete] are junk emails or virus-infected emails. The email bypasses flowing into the “Deleted Items” folder.


To Recover an Item in the “Deleted Items” folder

If an item is moved to the “Deleted Items” folder, then the item can be recovered.

  1. If you accidentally deleted an item, you can press [CTRL] Z to undo the operation. However, you would need to do [CTRL] Z immediately after the deletion before any other Outlook command is used.
  2. If the item already resides in the “Deleted Items” folder, then you can physically click and drag the item from the “Deleted Items” folder to its proper location. For example, an Email can be dragged back into the Inbox, a Calendar item can be dragged back onto the Calendar etc.

Emptying the “Deleted Items” Folder

Items in the “Deleted Items” folder remain there until the folder is emptied. Therefore, it should be emptied from time to time. To empty the folder:

  1. In the left window pane, right-click on the “Deleted Items” folder from the Folder List.
  2. From the shortcut menu, click on “Empty Folder”.

Outlook 2010 – Deleting Emails

You will see the following message window:

Outlook 2010 – Deleting Emails

If you answer “Yes”, all the items will be deleted and become unrecoverable.
If you answer “No”, all the items stay in the “Deleted Items” folder.

Emptying the “Deleted Items” Folder when Exiting Outlook

If you don’t want to empty the “Deleted Items” folder manually, you can tell Outlook to do it for you whenever you exit Outlook. Here is how to turn on that feature:

  1. Click on File (tab) and select Options.
  2. On the left side, click on the Advanced category.
  3. Under the “Outlook start and exit” section, check the box that reads “Empty Deleted Items folders when exiting Outlook”.
  4. Click the OK button.

Outlook 2010 – Deleting Emails


Note: Despite all that we’ve said about [SHIFT] [Delete] permanently deleting items, IT gurus and law enforcement agencies have the special tools necessary to recover pretty much anything from the computer. However, items are considered “permanently deleted” when using [SHIFT] [Delete] because they are inaccessible to the regular computer user.

To learn more tips and tricks like these, please join our online newsletter community at www.TheTechMentors.com. Upon subscribing, you will receive a free copy of our Excel Functions Presentation.

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