How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

Sometimes we accidentally delete an email message in Thunderbird e-mail client, only to realize moments later that it was an important email. If you are using an email service that offers IMAP connection then you can get the deleted email message from the online backup. But if your email service allows only POP3 connection, then the email you have deleted is lost – specially if you have configured Thunderbird to delete email messages from remote folders. But there is an easy way to recover deleted email messages in Thunderbird using only a text editor. Here is how you can get back your deleted emails in Thunderbird:

  1. Open Mozilla Thunderbird. Press the Alt key on your keyboard to show the menubar in Thunderbird. In the menubar, select Help → Troubleshooting Information.

    How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

  2. On the troubleshooting page, click on the Show Folder button next to Profile Folder to open your Thunderbird Profile folder in Windows File Explorer.

    How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

  3. Close the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. When the profile folder is opened up, open the subfolder Mail. In this folder, you would see all the POP3 email accounts folders that you have configured in Mozilla Thunderbird. Open the folder related to the email account from which you want to recover the deleted email. I selected pop3.live.com folder which is linked to my Microsoft Live (Outlook) account.

    How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

  4. Inside this folder, you would find a file named Inbox. Before you proceed further, make a backup of this file (so that in case you mess up this file, you can restore it from the backup). Open this file in your favorite text editor. I recommend free Notepad++ editor because it can handle large files. Do not use editors like MS Word. Microsoft Notepad cannot handle very large files, so you should not use that either.

    How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

  5. In this Inbox file, you would find all the email messages (deleted and not deleted) in one large text file – one after another. All the email messages start with From –, so you can search for From – to go from one message to another. The deleted messages have a parameter X-Mozilla-Status: 0009 you have to change it to X-Mozilla-Status: 0000 to recover that message.

    How to Recover Deleted Email in Mozilla Thunderbird

  6. You can do this to as many email messages as you want. If you want, you can use the search and replace function (Ctrl + H) in Notepad++ to replace all occurrences of X-Mozilla-Status: 0009 into X-Mozilla-Status: 0000 to recover all the deleted email messages. After this save the file. Now you can open Mozilla Thunderbird and you would find the recovered email messages listed there.