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Question: Mail rules accidentally deleted all of my emails. How to restore?

Alright, here goes.


I tried to set up af number of rules in my Mail application (just the standard one), that would delete some "subscribtion emails" that I never read anyways. And no, it's not spam.


BUT, I accidentally forgot to set the "any" criteria to "all", which means it all of a sudden deleted all mails with my email address as recipent. How can I restore them? They do NOT appear in my "Deleted messages"!


Also, is it really true that such a simple user mistake, can cause the user to lose highly important emails? I mean... It's like one click away from utter and permanent removal of the emails. If that's the case, I am really disappointed in Apple. I know I made a mistake, but forgetting to set "any" to "all" is something I feel anyone can do on accident, since it's on "any" as default. And it just applies the rule to the whole mailbox! I had no chance to stop it, and now my mails are gone. Important ones from the government, tax-mails, receipts... all just gone.


And no... I do not have a backup of those mails. I am without a time machine harddisk, and I honestly thought that deleted mails would appear in the "deleted mails" folder on iCloud, but they do not. The rules must have deleted those two, even though I have no idea why and how that should be possible.


And yes, the emails are gone from ALL of my devices, and not just the Mac... even iCloud.com does not have any trace that they even existed.


Please help, I know I haven't been smart about it, but permanently deleting such a large amount of emails, without warning or recovery method, simply should not be possible!


Any support is highly appreciated. I am looking at a world of s*** if I can't recover some of these important emails. Thank you in advance!


🙂 And here's a smiley, so you know that I am normally a very happy guy, and so you also know that I will be immensely joyful and appreciative of your help 🙂

OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3), Mail App

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May 2, 2013 9:27 AM in response to Geeken In response to Geeken

Geeken wrote:


Also, is it really true that such a simple user mistake, can cause the user to lose highly important emails? I mean... It's like one click away from utter and permanent removal of the emails. If that's the case, I am really disappointed in Apple. I know I made a mistake, but forgetting to set "any" to "all" is something I feel anyone can do on accident, since it's on "any" as default. And it just applies the rule to the whole mailbox! I had no chance to stop it, and now my mails are gone. Important ones from the government, tax-mails, receipts... all just gone.


And no... I do not have a backup of those mails. I am without a time machine harddisk, and I honestly thought that deleted mails would appear in the "deleted mails" folder on iCloud, but they do not. The rules must have deleted those two, even though I have no idea why and how that should be possible.


Yeah, I don't think you should be disappointed with Apple. It's definitely not their fault. Only yours. Sorry to be frank, but "Any" and "All" conditionals are very obvious, and I have never made this mistake. I am not sure what you would want Apple to do to prevent this -- make an alert box come up saying "You are choosing Any which means when you do this your rule will apple to Any of the conditions you set". That would just annoy us other users that already understand what All and Any mean.


My point is that you should study the manuals and very good knowledge before you attempt at anything with your mac especially creating Mail Rules that will automatically delete emails.


You don't do backups which is also very strange and you should learn how to do them, as this is very important if anything happens to your computer at a later date, as you've just experienced.

May 2, 2013 9:27 AM

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May 2, 2013 9:41 AM in response to pjdube In response to pjdube

Thank you for being frank, and thank you for the quick reply. 🙂


However, I just don't agree. I know I made a mistake, BUT... Nothing automated should be allowed to permanently remove emails from your entire iCloud.com account.


Rules are automated, and by being so they can seriously mess up your mailbox if you make a simple misclick. I know there's a big difference between "all" and "any", but since the default is "any" and since "any" has higher probability of inflicting more damage than "all", then it is not logic to not have some kind of safety. For instance, rules could be allowed to delete message, but NOT permanently remove them from even the trash, without permission.


I hope you get my point. 🙂


Anyways, is there anyone who knows of a way to recover the lost emails? Thank you so much!

May 2, 2013 9:41 AM

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May 2, 2013 9:53 AM in response to pjdube In response to pjdube

Thank you for the suggestion.


But no, I am just using the standard iCloud (@me.com) setup. Nothing fancy, and as I also stated, the mails are gone from iCloud.com as well.


I thought about doing a recovery from my iPhone iCloud backup, but that would only restore the settings and not the emails, right?

May 2, 2013 9:53 AM

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May 2, 2013 7:42 PM in response to Geeken In response to Geeken

And do you have "Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox" and/or "Store deleted messages on the server" checked in Mail > Preferences > Account > {your-iCloud-acct} > Mailbox behaviors? If so, what setting do you have for "Permanenctly erase deleted messages when:"?

May 2, 2013 7:42 PM

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May 2, 2013 9:56 PM in response to markwmsn In response to markwmsn

Hi, thanks for the replies.


The rule was "Delete messages" and I have "Store deleted messages on the server" enabled. However, it seems that the rule has deleted the messages from the "Deleted messages" folder anyways.


Is there really no way to recover the emails? 😟 Thanks for the help so far.

May 2, 2013 9:56 PM

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May 3, 2013 6:07 AM in response to Geeken In response to Geeken

Geeken wrote:


Okay thanks.


But one would think that DELETED messages would go to the "Deleted messages" folder, so you have a chance to undo whatever automatization is happening.


Never assume that you know how it works unless (or until) you do. The rule you incorrectly wrote caused this, it was not 'automated' Then your decision not to backup your stuff made it unrecoverable. Attend to that and it won't happen again, carry on without backup and it will.

May 3, 2013 6:07 AM

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May 3, 2013 6:19 AM in response to Geeken In response to Geeken

When a Mail rule deletes messages, I believe that they are deleted directly, and never go through the trash mailbox. A safer method, in the future, would be to move matching messages to the trash mailbox.


As to recovery, your options are severely limited by the lack of any backups. If you had backups, recovery would be trivial. Without, you probably won't ever see some of those messages again. You could try using a file recovery tool to recover deleted .emlx files, but that will probably have limited success at this point. See Recovering deleted files.


As for blame, note that any kind of automated deletion always has a risk of destroying more than you want, and that's not Apple's fault, or anyone else's... except whoever created the buggy script. Further, when you created this rule, you were specifically asked if you wanted to apply it to all messages in the current mailbox:


User uploaded file

I understand that you're upset, as I would be... but let's keep this discussion realistic and productive. The problem was caused entirely by 1) lack of backups and 2) creation and execution of a buggy automated deletion rule. Blaming Apple for that is not fair and distracts from productive exploration of a solution, especially when the people answering your questions are all huge Apple fans and will be more prone to answer you in a negative fashion when antagonized.

May 3, 2013 6:19 AM

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User profile for user: Geeken

Question: Mail rules accidentally deleted all of my emails. How to restore?