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My Email Disappeared While Composing. Can I Get it Back?

The case of the disappearing message.

What The ???!!!!

It's no fun to write a long email and lose it. Here's how that happens and a few ways to avoid it.

Question: I was responding to an email, but my response disappeared. Do you know a way I can retrieve it?

Type CTRL+Z. It may not work, and I’ll have some other things to try in a moment, but start there.

The longer, original question was a disaster waiting to happen. Before I get to that, though, I want to address a common scenario: you’re typing a nice lengthy response in email, and all of a sudden it’s gone.

There are many reasons this can happen — some benign, some disastrous.

With so many possibilities, though, there are a few things to try to see if you can get it back before you panic.

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Email disappeared?

When email you’re working on suddenly disappears:

  • Type CTRL+Z for “undo”.
  • Check your drafts folder.
  • Restart your email program or browser and check the drafts folder again.

Most importantly, save your work often while composing your message so it’s been saved somewhere should something happen.


The very first thing I do in these situations1 is type CTRL+Z. That’s the keystroke sequence for the “undo” command. Many times, whatever just disappeared returns just as quickly. If it doesn’t, I type it more than once, just in case.

The scenario being “undone” is usually something like this:

  • Somehow everything in your message got selected. Accidentally typing CTRL+A for “select all” is the most common cause.
  • Before noticing that everything’s selected, you type another character, which replaces the current selection.

Undo undoes that replacement. Problem solved in a single keystroke.

Draft folder

Most email services and programs have a “drafts” folder into which they periodically save a copy of what you’re working on. That’s the next place I look.

You may find your work in progress. You may find most of your work in progress. You may find some of your work in progress. You may find nothing at all. It all depends on how often your service or program updates what you’re working on to the drafts folder.

This, too, has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.


Particularly if the CTRL+Z trick didn’t work, I’m tempted to restart my mail program, or, for web-based email services, close and re-open my web browser.

The thinking here is that occasionally they get confused. Web browser caches sometimes provide what can only be termed “unexpected results”. While it’s a bit of a long shot, restarting your browser can sometimes fix display issues with the email service you’re using, and your partially completed message might reappear in the drafts folder.

I do have to reiterate that this is a long shot.

Recovering from crashes

If your computer, email program, or web browser crashes while you’re composing your email, you have few options for recovery.

Naturally, you’ll restart the program and return to your email interface. CTRL+Z is exceptionally unlikely to work here, having been erased by the crash. Your best hope is that the email system you use has a copy of your message in its draft folder.

A complex & geeky straw to grasp

Type the Windows Key plus “R”, and then type:


Click OK. That will run Windows File Explorer opened to your temporary files folder. Examine the contents of this folder for anything that looks like it might be a draft of your email in progress.

What that might look like I can’t say, but keep an eye out for files that carry the name of your email program, subject line, or anything else relevant, as well as files with a date/time stamp close to the time of loss. You can generally view their contents using Notepad, though it will likely be a binary mess.

The chances are low, but for the desperate, it is one more straw to grasp at.

The disaster waiting to happen

The original question included:

I clicked on “reply” and would write some, then clicked on the “minimize” box and it would be at the bottom of the screen ready to work on later. I did this several times; but over the weekend …

The technique being used was to keep the email compose window open forever, assuming it would always be there and ready to resume.

That is asking for problems. Keeping windows of work in progress open — any work in progress — for that long is just asking for your work to be lost. Be it through an unexpected reboot (hello, Windows 10 updates!), a crash, or even an “ESC” key typed in the wrong place at the wrong time (which closes the window), you are setting yourself up for data loss.

Save early, save often

Regardless of what technique you use to edit your email, the single most important thing you can to is periodically save your work in progress. Don’t assume someone else will save it for you.

It can be as simple as typing CTRL+S every so often while you work. In fact, I’m fairly convinced you can measure someone’s experience with technology by watching how often they type CTRL+S while working.

If you need to step away from the computer, type CTRL+S before you go. Even better, don’t just minimize; close the window, making sure to say “Yes” when it asks if you want to save your work in progress. That way you don’t have to worry about someone else answering “No” while you’re not around, and when you return, you’ll find it in the drafts folder.

Another preventative approach

Another technique I use from time to time is to compose not in my email program or web interface, but in an actual text editor or word processor. Those tools have frequent auto-saves, so I’d be hard-pressed to lose anything — not to mention that I keep hitting CTRL+S (or its equivalent2) periodically to save my work to disk.

Do this

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1: Yes, this happens to me too. More often than I care to admit.

2: ESC “:w” in my text editor, Vim.

76 comments on “My Email Disappeared While Composing. Can I Get it Back?”

  1. It’s best to type emails into a text editor or word processor but if that’s too much work, second best is to frequently type CTRL+S in your email program or webmail compose page. This will save the email in the Drafts folder in all email programs and most, if not all webmail sites.

    Another thing you can do is periodically press CTRL+A then CTRL+C. That saves the contents of the field to the clipboard. I use the free clipboard manager Ditto which keeps several versions of previous clipboard contents. (Update 2020) With Windows 10 you can use Windows key + V to show a list of previous clipboard entries.

  2. I sometimes lose what I was composing and can’t find it anywhere. I discovered that when I type too fast I accidentally hit the key under the shift key with my fingernail as I was capitalizing and everything disappears.

      • What a life saver you are thank you, I spent quite a bit of time online panicking, Reading through different people solutions to no avail until i came across your solution several repeated ctrl+z and it magically appeared bravo thanks for sharing.

      • I also was composing an email to a cruise line today. I went to remove a letter in a word and all of a sudden I was looking at one of my folders. Don’t know how this happened but I have lost my email which I spent a lot of time on. I just now tried control Z but nothing happened. Any suggestions please . I was not answering an email I was composing one.

        • As the article described, you are very likely out of luck. Looks like your email program or browser crashed, and if there’s no automatic copy in some kind of “Drafts” folder, then there’s little to nothing that can be done.

          • I have been looking into the TEMP folder, as mentioned in the article, found my lost email there and opened the file with WordPad. It worked perfectly, my entire composed email was in the file, all I had to do was to copy-paste from the WordPad to Outlook. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I’ve had a few e-mails disappear before I could finish them and hit send. The reasons varied. Some were just short replies and easily rewritten, but after it happened to a long, detailed reply I’d spent some time on, I decided that in future, when I have to write an e-mail like that which would be hard to re-create, I write them in Notepad, then paste the finished reply into an e-mail’s body. That way, even if the computer crashes, I’ve been clicking “Save” all along while writing and have only lost a couple of sentences at most. I only do this for e-mails that would be a real pain to have to start over, but it’s paid off a couple of times and I was glad I’d adopted that way of doing it.

  4. I was composing an email and I saved it several times. I got called away from my work, and when I came back I had timed out. How can I find what I had saved?

    That depends entirely on what email program you use. Most place auto-saved messages into a “Draft” folder.


  5. I, too, have suffered by having a lengthy email accidentally disappear just as I was finishing it. Now, if I know it’s a long one, I compose in Word and then copy and paste it into my Hotmail email. I’ve never figured out which key is the culprit, but it’s one at the bottom of the keyboard and if I just brush it, everything is gone. Aaaaarrgh!!!! So save, save, save……

  6. This disappearing email as I compose it is becoming a big problem now for me in outlook express. It use to happen periodically. Now the cursor jumps at random into another part of the email continually and emails under composition totally disappear. I have figured out that if I open a ‘create’ new email to compose rather than a ‘reply’ to compose & DON’T put the address or subject on until just before I send, it seems to NOT disappear. Also sometimes I highlight the whole email and hit copy just to be sure I don’t loose it.
    What a mess.

    • You wrote:

      “DON’T put the address or subject on until just before send… “

      Another technique that works just as well is to put your own E-Mail address on the “To:” line. That way if you accidentally hit “Send,” you own text will come winging back to you, just as if your E-Mail Program was saying, “Uh, pardon me, but… did you lose this?” : )

      • This was an old comment about Outlook Express. Nobody should be using Outlook Express anymore. It was buggy when it was supported and now that it’s no longer supported, those bugs will never be fixed.
        I don’t understand how including your address in the “To:” field would help much. Your email will come back to you, but it won’t prevent the embarrassment caused by sending an incomplete email. And even if you don’t send it to yourself, the email program lets you know it’s been sent.

  7. I am a touch-typist and found the text of my emails suddenly disappear never to be found again. I assumed that I had hit a combination of keys that represented some kind of shortcut. I use a Dell Desktop. I never experienced this problem before, so tried to simulate it. It did happen once, but I couldn’t work out which keys I had hit. I did try the Ctrl Z solution from above. but sadly that didn’t bring back the lost text. A person I know told me that he used a key combination (which he has forgotten) to hide his text if somebody seemed to want to look over his shoulder. He stated that there is a combination that brought back the ‘Hidden’ text.

  8. One tip to keep from losing what you type into a browser input field, such as emails, FaceBook, article comments etc., is to type them into a program like Notepad or Wordpad and do periodic saves. I’ve lost stuff I was typing into a browser window due to browser or website problems. When done, I copy and paste it into the browser window. Another benefit to this is that I have saved copy of saving what I typed which I can choose to keep or delete.

    Also, If you accidentally erase what you are typing in a browser window or text editor, or for that matter almost any program, Ctrl+z will normally restore what you typed. Ctrl+z is similar to the Undo button, and it often works in programs that don’t have an Undo button.

  9. I, too, will be in the middle of typing a reply and shazam, gone! This happens weekly, I’m ready to throw Windows 8 and the computer out the window! Is there not a real solution?

    • I’d have to know what email program you’re using. There are so many possibilities for why this might happen that there will never be a single, simple answer I’m afraid.

    • I’m going to guess that you are not using an email program and are using the web interface of an email provider. Unfortunately, data entry on a web form (of which the email writing window is) can be fragile sometimes. Due to either quirks in the web site or quirks in the browser often caused by buggy add-ins. I’ve lost stuff in web forms to the point where if I’m going to type something long on a web form, I type it first into a text editor or word processor. Unfortunately, I don’t always remember and lose data.

  10. Can’t find my letter which got lost in the middle of composition on my yahoo mail. it said i touched view incognito which i didn’t choose to do. It went poofff in thin air. Can i retrieve it pls.?

  11. Just had the same thing happen to me. That is, I replied to an email and then switched to another email for an instant and my message was gone. But I was able to recover it! Initially, I thought it wasn’t in my draft box, but it was actually hidden in there. Since that box has a default sort of ‘Date’, I expected my new response to be at the top. It was just the opposite. Since I hadn’t sent it yet, the date was set to ‘none’ and thus was at the bottom of my draft box.

    • Thank you Felix! In Outlook 365, if I’m composing an email message, but then switch to my calendar to check a date, the draft email response disappears! But now, thanks to you, I know where to find it! I had always sorted the various “draft” folders by date, not realizing that my draft didn’t have a date, so could appear at the bottom. I checked, and voila! There it was!

  12. I lost my e-mail and found it in draft. I was told to send it to myself and to the person it was intended for. I did this but the message itself was not sent. Help!

    • This is just a guess, but from the sound of your question it sounds like you were composing an email, and then deleted it, lost it, the browser closed, or something to that effect. The drafts folder will hold auto-save versions of any email you are composing. Your email client will be set to save on a certain timeframe, like every 5 minutes. So what probably happened is that you found the email in drafts but it wasn’t a complete copy because it was saved before you finished writing. If that is the case it cannot be recovered and you’ll have to write it again.

  13. August 19, 2016
    My problem was that the draft with the “magically” deleted text, saved itself instantly. I sat there flummoxed staring at my laptop mouth hanging open in dismay. Used be the draft didn’t save for quite awhile should you forget to save it yourself

    Now there is no undo. I have mid sentence lost two very important gmails, never to be found again. I had saved some of it to notepad but not enough to make a cogent finish. There must be a middle ground between instant save and long timed save. Aaaarg. HELP GMAIL.

    Window 7, Firefox 48, 64 bit, Toshiba Portege T835R, Intel Core 13

  14. I found this article using “recover draft email after outlook crashes” … So to help others, I am posting my final discovery (whew):

    1) For those like me whose outlook crashed mid-draft… reopen and OLD draft was there not NEW changes (ahhh): Hopefully outlook told you “can’t save… will save in current folder” then look in the header of that draft and you will see the words: “This is the most recent version, but you made changes to another copy. Click here to see the other versions.” When I did that my NEW changes came up in TWO different emails about a minute apart from each as the changes go.

    2) For those who lost an attachment… Find you temp folder and hopefully it’s there: C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\13N8K4SD (you can either google search on “where is my outlook OLK file” or you can open another attachment in your email somewhere and look at it’s properties which should show you the path which is usually hidden so you’d need to copy and past the path without the file name… Side Note: a long time ago I simply added this folder to my Favorites bar in my Windows Explorer file manager so that I wouldn’t have to keep searching for it… Great place to clean up stuff if you are running out of drive space for those with older computers).

    3) Search google on how-to-recover-outlook-e-mail and click the one on the techwalla site

  15. CNTRL + Z ……………………………Laptops are notorious for erasing full paragrahs. Don’t fiddle with it before hitting CNRTRL + Z (Undo). (If page changes, don’t think you will get it back. Doesn’t matter whether on Windows or on an online form. Get your nicely- worded sentence or paragraph back. So good to use!!!!!

  16. I have an Android.I had written an email and it said sending your request but froze and didn’t go through. I tried to get it to send by going to another place and I lost it. Is it lost forever?

  17. I wrote an email with out internet as my email page was open and I was over seas. it took hours to write it. When I got wifi I clicked save draft and it just loaded me back into the email page… nothing in my drafts… is there anyway for me to find this now?

    • Did you look in the trash folder? I’d check all of the email folders on the page. If it’s not in one of them, it might be lost.

  18. If it’s the contents of the Email that have gone, If you are very quick, you can press control and Z and it will jump back – you do have to be quick but it works.

    • Yes. Ctrl-z is undo. So the exact way it works is that if you have done something in the email program (or almost any program for that matter) Ctrl-z will undo the last action. Many programs allow multiple undo’s so you can keep hitting ctrl-z until you get back to the point you want. In fact, you can also hit “edit” in the top bar and select Undo there. Often that screen will show you all the undo points available to you.

  19. I accidentally deleted my entire Drafts section contents in Gmail 5 days ago – Is there anyway to restore those drafts? Thank you –

  20. An interesting thing I found today. I have just migrated to office 2016 (64Bit) and a peculiar problem has shown up.
    If I reply to an email (inline – not pop out) and I start typing. If I were to go to my “calendar” for example to validate that the information I am putting in my reply is valid, when I return to my draft, the content has disappeared.
    I have been able to reproduce this problem consistently so I think that there is a bug in the microsoft outlook inline reply mechanism that causes this behaviour to occur. Steps to reproduce my problem are:
    1. read the email in the reading pane on the right
    2. select “reply” at the top of the screen.
    3. type your reply in the place provided.
    4. change to the “calendar” section to check your appointments.
    5. return to the “mail” section and your draft copy has disappeared.

    • Usually if you go back to your inbox, you will see the email you were replying to with [DRAFT] next to it and you will be able to continue your response.

  21. I’ve had 31 emails, some with photo attachments, autosaved in my draft folder – until last night. Upon opening the draft folder to rework one of the drafts, I found all of the drafts still saved, including the ‘Subject’, and attachments, but the 31 drafted texts are gone, although it still says they are “saved”. There is only an empty page with the command to “Write something”. Nothing in the trash or other folders – nowhere! So I tried to add an address and ‘write something’ but this didn’t work. The entire mechanism is shut down. Please tell me – what may have happened here? Is there a way to restore my texts?

    • Without knowing exactly what email system you’re using it’s impossible for me to speculate. But in general I can think of no way to recover. Unless you somehow had a backup of what you’d been saving in drafts folders, if they’re gone they’re gone. One of the reasons I’m very reluctant to rely on any email system’s draft folders for anything more than a few minutes or hour or saving.

  22. If you originate a REPLY from an email in Windows 10 and you did not POP OUT then you’ll find the email in that file where you replied from.

    • This works, but just found out that not always! What just happened to me: I could not, for the life of me, find my draft, not even attached to the original email I was replying to. After two hours composing! I looked EVERYWHERE! Drafts, Deleted, Sent folders. Nothing. I was starting to come to terms with having to retype it… until it occurred to me to look in the DRAFTS folder ON MY PHONE. And there it was!!! You cannot imagine the relief! :) The only explanation I can find why it disappeared on my computer is that I had also altered the subject text, so maybe it could no longer attach to the original?

      • I was in the middle of composing on an iPad and was interrupted, the screen auto-locked. When I picked it up again, my email was still there, but the content was gone. Not in drafts, not anywhere. I tried what YM said, went to my iPhone, and there it was!! But then my phone started crashing (which it never does), first two times, restarted and my email was still there, third time, it was gone. I don’t understand why these programs are so unstable and buggy, doesn’t matter what device, what email, I read all the above on various reasons speculated, but still doesn’t make sense to me.

  23. Hello,
    The problem of the moment is also the issue of the year. Sometimes when i am typing an email, (still a hotmail account but needless to say, it is part of OUTLOOK now.) i hit some key…have no idea what key(s), and my email gets shoved to the left hand side of the screen. On the right is something akin to programming language in my estimation., or specifications of some sort. I saw an x at the top right, clicked it, and my email returns. HOWEVER, this morning i am typing on a forwarded email, with my info about what the email is about. Again I hit something, and the entire original message dissappears, except for one ______________________________________ type line, and the letters above it are
    nd ar. yesterday an upgrade on the computer happened…. and it took me forever to figure out that my email might be in draft… it was, but only the stuff listed above NOT the email with all the info. Is there a way to recover it, it’ rather important.

    i think if i ever need to write more than a sentence, i will do it in word and then copy it into the email. also, do you have any idea what key(s) i hit by accident that makes the “programming language” show up, or the dissapearance of a whole email? so i hopefully wont do it again.

    (My longtime question, is when something is working well, why do they tell you that the update or the upgrade will make it better? I find it is almost impossible to find things, or understand their new non-word instructions, and it extremely rare if it is in fact, an improvement. )
    thank you.

    • Using word processor or text editor to compose an email or a long comment in a web-form is a fantastic idea. In most cases, you can use Notepad or WordPad as they start up much quicker than Word. Word has the slight advantage of autosaving as you type, but it’s so rare that Notepad or WordPad would lose data, that I stick with WordPad which opens instantly, and you can do your own periodic saves by pressing CTRL+S.

  24. I should have composed in Libre Office, but it started as a brief reply.

    After I was nearly finished (and had been actively editing it for about 20 mins) all of a sudden, Microsoft pops-up saying, “due to inactivity” (WTH?) you must sign out and in again”!!!! It wouldn’t let me do anything except click OK (the background screen was fogged out).

    Keep in mind that I had been working long enough the draft had saved numerous times. I sign out & in, and the draft message is GONE! Then, I go into sent items, nothing there, back to drafts– it’s there, the recipient name flashed up for a split second, then disappears and it says “draft” again??? I open the draft, and the message is BLANK!

    I NEVER have issues with Gmail. Why-oh-why did I trust!

    • You were right with your first statement not to trust any online provider not to lose your data. It’s always best to compose in a word processor or text editor. The advantage of a word processor is the auto-save. I keep mine to one minute. It’s operation is transparent and doesn’t slow up anything as it used to do in the last millennium.

  25. Add me to the “email lost while composing” list. After reading this very helpful string of messages, I figured out how and why. And the Control Z recovered the lost text!!!!

    What’s happened to me is that when I need to capitalize an “A”, my clumsy fingers sometimes hit the “Control” key and not the “Shift” key. Control A deletes everything. Gone. Goodbye. Scream of frustration :-\

    But, the Control Z does restore it so my sanity is preserved!! Thank you for leading me to the path of understanding WHY, and again for the Control Z correction!! Great message thread!!

  26. I have found that the only way to safeguard against letters disappearing is to start composing then put it drafts and complete the letter in drafts, works for me when I remember to go that way

  27. I had been working on a draft all day and I would close and click on save draft. The last time I did this it was no longer in my drafts. It disappeared. This was sad as it took me a good portion of the day to create. I have no energy to recreate the email right now so the person will have to wait. It did happen one other time and I was able to retrieve it on my phone. Not this time though (and no I did not click on the wrong option, send or delete; it just is gone). There is definitely a flaw in the system (as again, I clicked on save draft several times throughout the day. This is very unfortunate.

    • I use Thunderbird to manage my emails. It seems to do a good job of saving drafts. I’ve never lost any email I was composing with Thunderbird. Some people recommend composing their emails in a Word or Text processor and copying and pasting. That is definitely the safest as long as you CRTL+S frequently enough to save your work often. CRTL+S also works in Thunderbird. And the advantage over copying an pasting is that your doing it all in one program, composing and sending.

  28. Why is it that oftentimes I fill in all of the required fields that r marked * , but they still will not show???

    Again, how can I retrieve a questionnaire that I was filling out that just disappeared?? I do not remember all of the questions nor my detailed, lengthy answers! I have tried to find it but am unable.

    • Unfortunately, it might not be possible to retrieve. And this not being the same as an email, the chances of retrieval are even lower.

  29. CTRL+S is not only for email but is useful in almost any program which allows you to input text such as word processors, spreadsheets etc. When I’m working on a spreadsheet or a word processing document or just about any program, I’ll hit CTRL+S whenever I minimize it to switch to something else.

    If your program allows you to set the time between auto-saves, set it at a low number, Computers are so fast now that a save every minute is transparent. But I don’t rely only on the auto-save, I still periodically hit CTRL+S

  30. Funny story, I heard my wife yell’n, pitch’n a fit along with some adjectives I cant repeat, then my name. When she calls me by name, its trouble and what ever, its my fault. So, reluctantly, I check it out, she’s even throwing stuff at the cats……when she sees me, (here it comes) “its your fault,” I lost my email message…guys, under no circumstance do you tell your wife “she miss typed,” nope, it will make for a bad day! Been there…calmly walk over and type control + z, peace returns, the cats come back…I gingerly make reference to several labels at the bottom of her screen bezel, one is labeled “control+z,” and duck as something may come flying my direction

  31. I like the last paragraph of your article. I often preach this to others.

    “Another technique I use from time to time is to compose not in my email program or web interface, but in an actual text editor or word processor. Those tools have frequent auto-saves, so I’d be hard pressed to lose anything — not to mention that I keep hitting CTRL+S (or its equivalent2) periodically to save my work to disk.”

    In my early days of emailing, no one would dream of typing a long email. Training in the various Microsoft Office tools was intended to make us proficient in creating Word documents and other items in the Office suite which would be added as attachments to emails.

  32. I’m running Win 7 using Thunderbird for emails.
    Whilst writing a reply, a small window appeared asking if I wanted to delete; save; cancel. This took me by surprise, and before I could get the cursor over ‘save’, within five seconds of appearing, the dialogue box and the email disappeared; the Thunderbird program shut down, and the computer logged off, shut down, then re-started reconfiguring. It took 17 minutes to get back into my Thunderbird with no sign of the email reply I was writing.

    This happened at precisely 08:00 local (UK). Some kind of automatic update has occurred, and I cannot find a way of controlling same, nor contacting Thunderbird and having a gripe!

  33. Oh my god you are a star! Thank you sooo much!
    I tried the Ctrl Z a coupe of times and it worked. I never knew this action and so many times I have had this happen! You have saved my time today…magical!

  34. LOL I’ve been wanting to test out this suggestion, but try as I may, now I can’t get the email I am composing to disappear, so I can hit Ctrl and Z! At least, I can say that Ctrl alone is not disappearing things, nor is Ctrl + A. So is there some hideous hidden glitch in gmail that randomly makes drafts disappear? It does seem that when this happens to me, I can’t find whatever message I was composing in Drafts. So perhaps it really is some sort of bug. But why does it have to choose the longer messages?!?!?!?!?!!

    • Do this: type a test email. You know any set of letters. Then hit the “ctrl” key then the “a” key. (your test email will turn blue – copy). Then hit any other key. Your test email will disappear (You did this accidentally – somehow). Then press the control key (hold it in) & then hit the “z” key. Your test email will return.

      I just did it with the text above & it worked 3 times ! I can’t tell you how many times I lost work. I didn’t get my last loss back this time, but now I know how, if it happens again. Don’t panic. Follow these steps exactly or you may lose your work.

  35. I have had a related issue in the Gmail web interface where I accidentally send my message before I am done composing it. This happens when I try to use Tab in the message body section of the Compose window to format my text — Tab actually moves focus out of the body and onto the Send button. There’s a confirmation, but if I’m still typing away and hit Enter — off goes the partial message.

    My workaround: fill out the recipients fields last when composing a message. If I accidentally try to send, I end up with an error message instead of an embarrassment.

    I also set Gmail’s send delay to the 30 second max. This way I get a chance to hit an “undo” link before the message actually goes out.

    • That’s very good advice about filling in the “To:” field after completing the email. Leo’s suggested that in other articles. It definitely qualifies as best practice.
      If you use an email program like Thunderbird or Outlook (in MS Office), the Tab key is treated as a Tab character in the body of the email, so it wouldn’t accidentally send your email. That’s another advantage of using an email program over an email web interface.

      • Hi Mark,
        I’ve been using Thunderchicken (my nick for Thunderbird) for a couple of years now. I never fill in the To field until I complete the email or if it’s a reply I remove the info from the To field before I start typing by copying it and pasting it into notepad (if the info isn’t already in my contacts list). However, I always add my email address to the BCC field. Should something happen it gets sent to my email address so there is no embarrassment and it’s just a matter of copy and paste into a new email. If it’s going to be a lengthy email, I use a 20 year old word processor in which I have set the the auto save to 15 seconds then copy and past it into a new email. Just a lesson I learned from using Incredimail in the past. This was a consistent problem with incredimail. Seems to work for me. I’ve also used the CTRL Z on many programs and web sites. It has never let me down….. so far.

        Excellent article Leo

        Take care and stay safe

  36. this unfortunately is a common problem for me (and others)—-answers/instructions often include ‘Type the Windows Key plus “R”, and then type:—-‘ or similar. Where is one suppose to type whatever? I try hitting the various keys mentioned in all sorts of combinations and at best it bring a start box to my screen with programs to access, weather, etc. but noplace to type anything. If I type something in the search box near the start button, it will search the web and bring me back to sites like this. Its like being locked in a loop and I don’t have the secret ring to get out of it.
    I’s suggest 3 levels of answers: the middle for people who know their way around computers, those who understand computer speak. Then a upper level for the knowledgeable, code writers, people who’s first toy was a computer, who have digital dreams. Then a lower level for people w/o the digital gene, etc. who just want to use the dam thing at 10% of its possibility. Basic bookkeeping, email, web surfing, keeping some records. People who want to get sick when they see ‘Open the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.’

  37. I was adding to a letter my husband wrote to a court, all of a sudden my email disappeared & the screen was back to the Gmail inbox.
    I Looked 1st in draft file, thank goodness it was there.
    I had inserted the last sentence, but needed to make other adjustments, & again, same thing, only it wasn’t in drafts, it was in the sent file. “Send” wasn’t even visible on my screen the whole time I was typing, what did I hit that put it in drafts & what did I hit that sent it?
    By the time I looked up how to retrieve it, time was past, but again, I couldn’t even see that part of the page.
    (1 Lesson learned: If email address field is filled in, take it out. Hoping to learn more. :D)
    Thank you for your help!

    • Yes, it’s generally good to add the receiver’s email address just before sending ro avoid sending an incomplete email. Also, it’s helpful to periodically press CTRL+A to highlight your entire text and CTRL+C to copy that text to the clipboard to have a backup of what you are typing.

      The email should be saved to drafts as it being typed, but you can’t always count on that happening.

  38. I recently emailed my insurance company after no one seemed capable or willing to answer my calls. I sent that email outlining my endeavors via multiple voicemails to speak with my claim Examiner which had been ignored. After waiting to give the insurance company time to reply and no reply forthcoming, I opted today to “reply all” to the initial email to ensure they could see both emails in a timeline. Yahoo’s format of showing the emails as a conversation never really posed many issues before today. As I was typing my “reply all” email, I was mid-sentence halfway through typing this email. Seemingly out of nowhere, I saw a small pop-up window where I’d been typing that simply said “your conversation has been deleted.” I was flabbergasted. There was no saving keystroke of Control Z. The email was deleted, along with the initial email I was replying to. I did hit control Z immediately just in case, but I was no longer typing in the email itself. I then assumed the “conversation” would be in the trash folder. It was not I am 100% certain I didn’t fall victim to mistyping and hitting “control a” and then somehow accidentally deleting the conversation. I am a poor typist, and the “select all” combo of “Control A” followed by basically typing any key and wiping the screen blank has happened to me more times than I care to admit. If this was the issue, I would have just hit control z. As I had stated before, that deleted email was not in the trash, or in drafts. Unfortunately, the words” conversation will be deleted” meant that I didn’t even have the original email in the sent folder to prove to the insurance company that I had been making every effort to contact them. The only saving grace was that I had typed the original email to them on my phone and my phone sends a copy of whatever email I send to my inbox. I still have no clue what or how that happened to those very important emails. I started to low-key think I was getting hacked in real time by someone working for the insurance company. lol. I have since saved all correspondence on my PC and am using a text editor to type all future emails and remembering not to put the email address in there until I was ready to send. Sorry this was so long, but if anyone did read all this and you have any input or suggested answers, I would love to hear it.

  39. Draft folder! There it was! My 2+ hours of editing that froze due to “disk almost full” notice. Thank you thank you thank you! The somewhat scary part was dragging my lost draft out of the draft folder and back up to the inbox folder. -Gary Madine who learned ^z (didn’t work for me tonight–but good try) and email with bsd unix and “left-arrows” <


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