iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service that acts as a secure backup of your valuable data. These types of data, which usually include documents, photos, and music, also get synced across Apple’s operating systems and even Microsoft Windows. Best of all, the service is free for up to 5 GB of storage, which is sufficient for thousands of emails. Subscribing to Cloud+ increases this limit and lets you set up custom email domains or generate temporary addresses. Fear not – they’re still stored in iCloud and accessed in the same fashion. With your worries hopefully dispelled, here’s how to recover deleted emails from iCloud.
1. Retrieve deleted emails from the Mail Trash (Optional)
Trash is a feature of the Mail app that acts as the first line of defense on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. So, even though a copy of deleted emails from your devices is uploaded to iCloud, it’s certainly faster to get them back directly. Here’s what to do:
iPhone and iPad
Do this to restore erased emails from Mail Trash on iOS and iPadOS:
- Open the Mail app.
- Tap on Mailboxes in the top left corner.
- Tap on Trash under “Mailboxes”.
- Highlight the email or emails you want to restore.
- Tap the back arrow icon in the bottom right corner.
- Tip. For older iOS versions, you must tap on or tap on Edit in the upper right corner, then Move.
- Select Move Message(s).
- Select one of the existing mailboxes, e.g., Inbox.
This hinges on the fact that the Trash feature was enabled in the past. In other words, you must’ve gone through these steps: Mail app > Mail > Preferences > Accounts > select account > Mailbox Behaviors > Trash Mailbox > specific mailbox is ticked. If so, open the Mail application on Mac and then:
- Click on View in the upper left corner of the menu.
- Click on View Deleted Messages from the drop-down menu.
- Select the Trash tab in the left sidebar.
- Select one or more emails.
- Drag them to the mailbox or right-click, then select Undelete and they’ll be restored to the inbox.
My emails aren’t in the Trash. What now?
Besides moving on to the next method, you can check whether the Archive option appears after following steps 2 (below or above Trash). If so, it means you previously enabled the second line of defense against erased emails. The steps for relocating emails from Archive are identical to the ones described above.
2. Recover deleted emails from the iCloud Mail folder
If the files aren’t in the local Trash or Archive, the next best thing is to find the online copy we mentioned. Unlike locally stored removed emails, these will only remain available for 30 days before they’re wiped permanently. This applies to any folders mentioned under step 1, step 7 below. With that said, follow these steps to recover deleted emails from iCloud:
1. Open iCloud in the web browser
This method is device-independent, which lets you get the ball rolling anytime. Here’s how the recovery of erased iCloud emails from a web browser works:
- Open iCloud.com in your web browser.
- Sign in with your Apple ID (e-mail of the iCloud account the emails are stored on) and password.
- Note. If you hit a snag, restore your Apple ID first.
- If prompted, complete the two-factor verification.
- On the main page, click on the Mail icon.
- An “iCloud Mail” window opens.
- Check the VIP, Trash, or Archive options in the taskbar on the left-hand side.
- Tip. You can see the list of e-mails in the middle menu, and individual mail contents in the right sidebar.
- Highlight one or several emails.
- Click on the Move To icon in the toolbar.
- Select which of the mailboxes the emails will go to.
- Enable Internet on a device you want the emails on, and wait for them to sync.
2. Enable syncing (Situational)
Syncing on iOS and iPadOS isn’t usually an issue since you can go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > toggle Mail. However, desktop and laptop ones oftentimes don’t have email syncing enabled. So, to access erased emails on Mac and Windows, do this:
- Mac: Click the Apple menu > select System Preferences > select Apple ID > click on iCloud > log in > choose iCloud Drive > put a checkmark in front of Mail > follow method 1 above.
- Windows: Install iCloud for Windows > Restart your computer and launch the app > sign in > put a checkmark in front of Mail > open an iCloud friendly mail app such as Outlook.
3. Perform a factory reset (Radical)
This method is overkill for one or a dozen e-mails. However, users whose emails are safe in the cloud and don’t have a lot of data on the device can speed the process up. Use these instructions to quickly restore deleted emails from iCloud on iPhone or iPad:
- Go to Settings then tap on General.
- Scroll down and tap on Reset, then select Erase All Content and Settings.
- Follow the instructions and wait for the smart device to reset.
- Connect your iPhone to the Internet and follow the on-screen instructions.
- When you reach the “Set up your iPhone/iPad” section, tap on Restore from iCloud Backup.
- Select which backup to restore from. You’ll have exact dates, times, and devices in the title/description.
- Wait for the sync to finish and get to the home screen.
- Open the Mail app to find your emails as described in method 1.
4. Recover erased iCloud emails without a backup
The methods above work when you have a cloud or local backup of emails. But what if the emails never made it to iCloud? Or, perhaps, 30 days passed, and iCloud erased them? In that case, you have 2 options:
1. Use Time Machine (Mac only)
If the deleted emails were ever sent/received or at least synced to your Mac, you can revert your operating system to a previous state. We showed this in method 1 of our guide on recovering .bak files, specifically “Is there a Mac alternative?”
2. Utilize data recovery software
While you’re reading the .bak file recovery guide, pay attention to method 2. You can use Mac data restoration software to look for remnants of erased emails as described. Similarly, you can put iPhone apps for data restoration to work.