Andrej Tozon's blog

In the Attic


Undeleting shift-deleted emails in Outlook

This one's for future reference...

It so happened that I accidentally "permanently" deleted some emails from Outlook... You know, a well-trained keyboard sequence routine - select some (spam) email, shift+delete, enter, and spam's gone. It turned out I happened to select all email in my Outlook and when I managed to stop the deleting, the last two months of email were gone.

This could easily be a tragedy, if I weren't keeping my email accounts with gmail/google apps. However, I do like keeping copies of my email on my desktop, so I wanted to get that two months of lost email back.

I knew that shift-deleting items in Outlook's list doesn't really remove the email's content from the data file [at least until the next Compact command], I just wasn't sure how to get it back. Googling for solution returned many (payable) products and services, assuring positive results, but somewhere down the road, I managed to land on Blake Handler's page, giving a simple solution. Apparently the utility, called Inbox Repair Tool, used for diagnosing and repairing corrupted Outlook's Personal Folders files (.pst), also resets the deleted flag in the repair process. You just have to find a way to corrupt the .pst file. Here's the quick rundown:

  1. Backup your Outlook.pst file [Inbox Repair Tool will do this for you as well]
  2. Edit Outlook.pst in some HEX editor
  3. Alter one or couple of bytes in the file (I changed the first byte and that worked for me)
  4. Run Inbox Repair Tool [ScanPST.exe, if using Office 2007, it's in [c:\]\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\
  5. Start Outlook. Undeleted email should be back.