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How to Retrieve an Accidentally Deleted Draft Email in Gmail

Gmail is one of the most popular email services ever. Its popularity is not only because it is a Google service: Gmail integrates one of the best spam filters ever made, has a simple interface and allows users to organize all their emails. To top it all off, the ability to receive and send emails even through external accounts, so that Gmail also becomes a real email client that can be used with all your email accounts.

Me at an event in a Google local headquarters.

Me at an event in a Google local headquarters.

Understanding How Gmail Drafts Work

Writing an email to someone may be an easy task requiring quick minutes, but things may be also more complex sometimes. You may find yourself in the need of scheduling a message and encrypting it for ensuring integrity and privacy in case of confidential communications. Luckily, Gmail offers all these features for free, something that should not be taken for granted. In any case, there is another feature that is much more basic, offered by practically all email providers, and which can also be extremely useful in any situation: the ability to save a draft before sending an email.

You may need to save a message as a draft in several situations, including:

  • writing a particularly long and complex email that requires time and multiple revisions;
  • needing to add several attaches to an email and wanting to add at the least all the elements you already have, waiting for being in the hand of all the required attachments;
  • writing an email straight away, perhaps in a moment of tiredness, and preferring to save it to read it again later, before sending it.

Deleting a Draft on Gmail

After you have written and saved an email as a draft, you are in front of three options:

  • sending it whenever you are ready;
  • keeping it in the drafts folder for an undefined period and until you are ready to send it;
  • deleting it.

Keeping a draft when you are unsure if to send an email or not is certainly a wise action, especially if you have written an important email and need your time. Writing straight away and sending without thinking twice is never a good idea, still, this happens also the opposite: giving up suddenly and deleting a draft, so that you manage to never send that email. Only later do you realize that maybe you could send that job application you cared so much about, perhaps by improving your resume, but there's nothing you can do: you have already deleted the draft and you need to write a new email again.

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What Happens When You Delete a Draft on Gmail?

The good news for those who delete drafts without thinking twice, is that Gmail has a brilliant feature available in virtually all email services: trash. Deleted drafts are not permanently canceled from Gmail servers, but they are moved to the trash.

How To Recover a Draft From Gmail Trash?

In order to recover a draft from Gmail trash, you just have to open the Trash folder, select the message you want to recover and click on it in order to go back writing. You have 30 minutes in order to finish it and send it, otherwise it will be permanently deleted because of the automatic trash wiping. If you prefer to keep it without writing it before 30 days, you can still manage to move the draft to any of your other labels in Gmail (it can be even the Inbox): in that case, you will keep it by removing it from the trash. There is not, instead, a way to move it exactly to the Drafts label.

How does a draft look into the Gmail trash. The draft is clearly recognizable from the red writing above the email subject.

How does a draft look into the Gmail trash. The draft is clearly recognizable from the red writing above the email subject.


When you delete a draft on Gmail, you are not losing it forever, as drafts are processed exactly like all the other messages whenever you delete them. You can recover any deleted draft from your trash within 30 days before they are gone forever. Of course, thinking twice before deleting something is always the best solution: in case of doubts, it is better to keep the draft, even for an undefined period. With this in mind, there is only one situation in which a draft is lost forever: when you wipe your trash folder straight away after having deleted your message.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Alessio Ganci

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