How to Search for Emails in Trash Folder in Thunderbird

Thunderbird Search Trash Folders Featured

If you get overenthusiastic about cleaning out your inbox and end up deleting some emails you wish you hadn’t, there’s a chance they’ll still be in your email’s trash folder when you realize your mistake. The bad news is that a lot of webmail and email clients, including Thunderbird, don’t include the trash folder when you run a search, so those deleted emails won’t appear. The good news is that, at least in Thunderbird, searching for emails in the trash folder just takes a quick settings change.

1. Include the Thunderbird trash folder in Global Search

Thunderbird uses a Global Search system to find emails matching your search terms, which means it returns results from every folder in every connected account – except your trash folders.

Thunderbird Search Trash Search No Results

To get your emails to appear in the search, you’ll have to go to each individual trash folder and change the setting there.

1. Find the trash folder you want to include in your Global Search results. It should be in the folder browser pane on the left.

Thunderbird Search Trash Trash Folder

2. Right-click the folder and open the “Properties” menu.

Thunderbird Search Trash Trash Folder Select

3. You’ll see an option to “Include messages in this folder in Global Search results.” Make sure that checkbox is checked.

Thunderbird Search Trash Trash Folder Properties

4. Go back to your inbox and search for a message. The results should include messages from the trash now.

Thunderbird Search Trash Trash Search Results

Don’t forget to use the filters on the left to help narrow down your search to specific senders and folders. You can also open the search results as a list to apply Thunderbird’s more powerful folder filters.

The downside of this approach is that your trash will pop up in Global Searches until you disable the setting again, which may clutter your results. If you’re pretty sure that you just want to do one quick search on a specific trash folder, just use the filter instead of the search.

2. Manually search for messages in the trash folder

Another way to search for a message in the trash folder is to do a manual search on this folder:

1. On the left pane, right click on the Trash folder. If you have multiple trash folders, right click on the one you want to search.

2. Select “Search Messages … “

Thunderbird Trash Right Click Search Messages 1

3. You can now set up multiple conditions and search terms for Thunderbird to search that particular email in the trash folder. You also have the option to search in subfolders or in the server, too.

Thunderbird Trash Search Window

3. Filter the Thunderbird trash folder

Unlike Global Search, Thunderbird’s filter function just looks in the folder you currently have selected and works in the trash folder by default.

1. Go to the trash folder you want to search.

Thunderbird Search Trash Trash Folder

2. Click “Quick filter” in the menu to the left of the “Search” bar.

Thunderbird Search Trash Filter

3. Enter your search term into the “Filter these messages” box below the main search box.

If you just need a one-off search or don’t want to jam up your Global Search results with deleted messages, this is the way to go. If you have multiple trash folders to search for the same term, use the pushpin on the far left of the filter menu to keep your filter active when you switch folders. Then, just switch between your trash folders until you find what you’re looking for.

What if I still can’t find it?

Make sure you try a few different search terms, including the sender’s name, their email address, the sending domain, or something that might be likely to appear in the subject line. If your email still isn’t showing up despite your efforts to rummage through your trash, you may want to search your webmail. If you can’t find it there either, you can check to see if it’s possible to recover items that have been deleted from your webmail’s trash. If you can find it in your webmail but it doesn’t show up at all in Thunderbird, you should double-check your sync settings – Thunderbird may be having a problem downloading your messages.

To avoid clutter, you can make use of filters to achieve inbox zero in Thunderbird.

Andrew Braun
Andrew Braun

Andrew Braun is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a wide range of interests, including travel, economics, math, data analysis, fitness, and more. He is an advocate of cryptocurrencies and other decentralized technologies, and hopes to see new generations of innovation continue to outdo each other.

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