How to Find Archived eMails & Move Them Back to Inbox in iOS

Moving email around between inboxes in the iOS Mail app is easy, and perhaps sometimes it’s too easy, because accidentally moving or archiving mail messages seems to be an ongoing issue for many. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions I get from newcomers to the iPhone or iPad is “where did my email go? It disappeared from my inbox, I think I pressed something accidentally and deleted it!” I’ve even accidentally done this myself in a half-daze of sleep at the wee hours of the night, only to return to my Mail inbox in the morning to not be able to find the email message I was looking for.

Not to worry, your archived emails aren’t missing – well, unless you deleted them, but even in that case if you move fast enough you can usually recover them from the “Trash” folder using the same method we’ll discuss below. Whether that email move was accidental or not doesn’t really matter because the process will be the same to get your mailbox in order again.

In this tutorial we will discuss how to locate and move archived emails back into the primary inbox of Mail app on iPhone and iPad.

How to Locate & Move Archived Emails Back to Inbox on iPhone and iPad Mail App

Here’s how you can find your archived emails and return messages from the “Archive” list back to your primary inbox:

  1. Open the Mail app if you’re not already there
  2. Tap on “Mailboxes” in the corner, and then tap on “All Archive” or tap “Archive” for the specific mailbox you want to look within
  3. Wait for all the messages to load, then locate and tap on the email you want to put back into the inbox
  4. With the email onscreen, tap the folder icon with an arrow pointing down
  5. At the next “Move this message to a new mailbox” screen, tap on “Inbox” to relocate the email back to your regular mail inbox window
  6. Tap back to Mailboxes, then choose Inbox as usual, and you’ll find your email in place again
  7. You can find, locate, and move archived emails easily this way.

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    How this probably happened, and how to avoid it again

    Now that your inbox is back to normal and your emails are no longer archived, you’ll probably want to pay attention to how this likely happened in the first place so you can prevent it from happening again.

    Typically emails are accidentally moved by either using a swipe gesture and accidental tap on the red “Archive” button, accidentally tapping the archive button when trying to flag something as unread, or when marking emails as read it’s very easy to accidentally tap the red “Archive” button rather than “Mark” as intended since the eye naturally goes to the big red button.

    All of this makes sense from a touch UI standpoint, but it can be a bit unintuitive to newcomers to iOS and iPadOS, and with the smaller sized iPod touch and iPhone screens it seems particularly easy to touch the wrong thing and seemingly send an email into oblivion.

    What about old emails that were accidentally moved or archived months ago?

    For emails that have long been relocated or moved, follow the same instructions above but once within the “All Mail” inbox, locate the emails manually or use a swipe gesture down to reveal the search box within Mail app.

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    Use this search feature to locate the email(s) in question, then move them using the same method as described above.

    What about finding accidentally deleted emails?

    As mentioned at the start of this article, if you think you accidentally deleted a bunch of emails rather than archived them, tap from the Mailboxes window to the “Trash” box, and you can typically find messages here unless they have been emptied.

    This capability has been around for a long time, as you can see in the screenshots below with earlier versions of Mail app for iOS:

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    In the example screen shot, the ‘REI Gearmail’ message was inadvertently moved to the archives, and then relocated again to the primary Inbox using the aforementioned steps.

    Regardless of whether you’re using iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or any other iOS or ipadOS device, you’ll be able to locate and move your archived emails this way.

    If you know of another approach to moving and finding archived emails on iPhone or iPad, let us know in the comments below.

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