Email I Was Composing has Disappeared. Can I Get it Back?

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

The longer, original question was a disaster waiting to happen. Before I get to that, though, I want to address a very 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.

Read moreEmail I Was Composing has Disappeared. Can I Get it Back?

What Does “Mailbox Unavailable” Mean and How Do I Fix It?

What does “smtp; 550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable mean?” I can no longer send emails to my friend at ***** … the mail comes back with this message.

Unless you’ve mistyped the email address, “mailbox unavailable” is likely not your problem, and not something you can fix. It means that your friend’s mailbox isn’t available, for unspecified reasons, and your message could not be delivered.

From there, all we can do is make some educated guesses as to why.

Read moreWhat Does “Mailbox Unavailable” Mean and How Do I Fix It?

How Do I Delete Multiple Emails When I Have a Lot to Delete?

I have over 15,000 emails. How do I delete multiple emails without having to delete them one at a time?

Deleting multiple emails can be easy, or it can be really, really cumbersome.

Two factors determine which it’s going to be: your criteria for which emails you want to delete, and the capabilities of your email program.

While I can’t show you what works in every email program or interface, I’ll review a couple of common techniques that will make this easier. Those techniques are useful for more than just deleting email, and they work in arenas other than email as well.

Read moreHow Do I Delete Multiple Emails When I Have a Lot to Delete?

How to (Accidentally) Give Someone Else Your PayPal Account

Someone tried to give me a PayPal account this morning. Someone in Germany, to be specific. I suspect they weren’t trying to give me their account, but made a mistake when setting it up.

That mistake is surprisingly common. Seeing as how the result would be my owning their PayPal account, I really don’t understand how they could make such a serious mistake. But as I said, it’s common.

It highlights something critical you need to know to keep your accounts safe.

Read moreHow to (Accidentally) Give Someone Else Your PayPal Account

What is POP? Or POP3? And what about IMAP and SMTP?

The computer world is full of confusing acronyms, and email is one source of many.

It’s useful to understand a few common acronyms, at least at a high level, to make using and configuring email programs a little less confusing.

POP3 and IMAP are half of the email puzzle; SMTP is the other. POP3 and IMAP are protocols (or “languages”) used to get your email, while SMTP is the protocol used to send it.

But why POP? Or POP3? And what are you supposed to enter if you’re asked to configure your email account in your email client?

Read moreWhat is POP? Or POP3? And what about IMAP and SMTP?

How Do I Edit a Reply?

I’ve been told by a mailing list moderator that when I reply to a message sent to the list, I need to edit the reply to remove most of the original message. I don’t see where or how to edit a reply. What am I supposed to do?

That’s not an uncommon request. Even though you might not see it, most email programs include the original message as part of your reply. If you don’t edit the reply yourself, your one-line response might be accompanied by the entire original message that everyone’s already seen.

The problem, of course, is that exactly how to edit the entire reply often isn’t obvious at all.

Read moreHow Do I Edit a Reply?

Why Is an Email Address Sometimes in Angle Brackets?

Every so often I see email addresses listed like this:

Name <>

or even <>

What’s it all mean, especially that last one?

Well, the last one is someone just not filling in some information in their email program like they’re supposed to.

But in general, that format is just the email protocol recognizing that most people don’t think in terms of email addresses; they think in terms of names.

Read moreWhy Is an Email Address Sometimes in Angle Brackets?

What is IMAP? And How Can it Help Me Manage My Email?

IMAP stands for “Internet Message Access Protocol”. It’s a fancy name for a protocol used by email programs like Outlook, Thunderbird, and others to access your email.

IMAP is an alternative to POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3), works in some fundamentally different ways, and makes a few fundamentally different assumptions.

I’ll examine IMAP, how it compares to POP3, and when you might want to consider using it.

Read moreWhat is IMAP? And How Can it Help Me Manage My Email?

Are Deleted Emails Really Deleted?

It is said that “deleted files” are never completely erased unless you actually do so with the proper software. Does this also refer to emails? Once I erase an email (incoming or outgoing copy), does that stick around somewhere also?

In order to make the operation fast, when you delete a file, the operating system typically just sets a flag or removes an entry from a directory – the actual data within the file is left on disk until that space is needed, when it gets overwritten. Does the same apply to email messages?

It depends.

Read moreAre Deleted Emails Really Deleted?

‘Tis the Season … to Unsubscribe!

With the Christmas holidays in full swing, it’s a busy, busy time of year.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in our email inboxes. Companies are reaching out to us with a constant stream of last-minute gift ideas, online specials, and more.

The kicker is that these are all legitimate emails from companies we’ve done business with in the past, and that we will, in all probability, continue to do business with in the future.

Just not at this breakneck holiday pace.

It’s the perfect time for a little email pruning.

Read more‘Tis the Season … to Unsubscribe!

Why Are Pictures not Showing in Email?

Why are pictures not showing in email? All I get is the broken image icon.

This is, unfortunately, an extremely common question.

In fact, it happens to me from time to time as well. Someone forwards me an email with some humorous pictures (or better yet, pictures of Corgis), and some or all of them simply don’t display. It’s both frustrating and puzzling when it happens.

Email has evolved over the years, and as a result things aren’t always as compatible as we’d like them to be.

Let’s look at where the incompatibilities are most common, some of the ways that pictures can get lost, and one or two work-arounds that might help you view those all-important Corgi pictures that someone just sent you.

Read moreWhy Are Pictures not Showing in Email?

8 Reasons Email is Wonderful

There are so many ways to communicate these days it just boggles the mind.

What was once limited to postal mail and (land line) telephone calls has blossomed to include instant messages and chat, store-and-forward audio and video messages (you record and send; the recipient listens or views at their convenience), text messages, video call services like Skype and others, as well as group conversations using tools like Google Hangouts. Not to mention mobile apps that mimic walkie-talkies in addition to good old mobile phone calls and text messaging, and much more.

I do some or all of those from time to time as situations warrant.

But I keep coming back to a tried and true communication mechanism that works the best for me for so many different reasons.

I keep coming back to email.

Read more8 Reasons Email is Wonderful

How do I find someone’s email address?


How do I find out my friend’s email address?

I’d like to get in touch with my old college roommate. How do I find out her email address?

I’m trying to get in touch with a business contact, but I’ve lost his email address. How can I find it again?

As you can tell, I often get variations of this question. Most people know someone and want to send them email, but they don’t have their email address. What do you do?

Well, I’ll be blunt. Nine times out of ten, you’re simply out of luck.

But sometimes, you can get lucky.

Read moreHow do I find someone’s email address?

Why Was My Email Bounced for Sending Too Much Spam?

I have just received the message that my response to an e-mail from a friend could not get delivered because there is too much SPAM coming from that IP; the IP given is {removed} but that is NOT MY IP. (Mine is totally different, according to what I saw on the link you posted sometime ago). What is going on? How can I be “punished” for something I did not do? I have NEVER sent SPAM to anyone.

You are exactly right: you are being punished for the actions of others.

To understand who those “others” are, we need to look at how email makes it off of your computer to its destination.

Read moreWhy Was My Email Bounced for Sending Too Much Spam?

What for-pay email providers do you recommend?

I get that you strongly recommend against using free email accounts for important stuff. But that, then, begs the question: which paid email providers with full features do you recommend?

A fair question. There are many approaches that I do recommend, depending on your specific situation.

I need to explain what I’m looking for, first. Then it’s just possible we’ll find that you already have what you need.

Read moreWhat for-pay email providers do you recommend?

How do I access email stored in Outlook Express on Windows 8?


Leo, I’m finding myself confronted with an unexpected problem. We bought an HP Pavilion desktop PC for my wife, which runs Windows 8.1. However, the entire correspondence with HP regarding the details of the transaction was done by email on my computer running Windows XP, SP3 and Outlook Express.

Now, I printed all of it out, of course but to be on the safe side, I also saved the entire correspondence to CD. Our usual total email traffic is done on my computer in order to avoid any mix-ups. Now, when my computer bites the dust, our entire collection of email and also other correspondence written on that Windows XP PC will be useless and lost since it cannot be read on the new PC running Windows 8.1. Would you have any idea how to get around this problem? Perhaps installing Outlook Express the new PC, but I suspect that Windows 8.1 will not take this.

In my opinion, there’s just no debate. The age of Outlook Express is over. It’s time to move on to something that’s less buggy and actually supported.

But that does leave many existing Outlook Express users with a big problem: what do you do with all the email that you have stored in your existing Outlook Express installation?

Read moreHow do I access email stored in Outlook Express on Windows 8?

How do I deal with one email account on two machines?

I run a desktop and a laptop. They both have the same email address as my husband and I share this. When the PC is switched on, the emails come into that one, but when the laptop is on, they come into that one if the PC is switched off. Is there any easy way to transfer emails from the laptop to the PC without having to set up a new email address or sending each individual email to myself?

I get variations of this question a lot.

There are a lot of misunderstandings of exactly what email is, where it lives, and what it means to have an email address. Clearing up some of that should help you understand what’s happening here, and also help you decide how you want to handle it.

Read moreHow do I deal with one email account on two machines?

2013’s Ten Most Popular Posts

This year marked a bit of transition for Ask Leo! as we began a technology switch from Movable Type to WordPress. As a result, the numbers may not be quite as accurate as in years past (a page that was moved from one to the other might not be appropriately represented), but the overall standings are interesting nonetheless.

Read more2013’s Ten Most Popular Posts

Why Does Mail Hang Around in My Outbox Before Being Sent?


All of a sudden, many of my outgoing emails go to the outbox in Outlook 2010 and sit there for a couple of minutes, sometimes much longer before it actually sends. Now I can hasten the sending if I click “Send/Receive” in the ribbon, but not by much. I checked the settings and “send immediately” is checked and the account settings has my address and POP/SMTP sent to this account by default. It’s always been this way so I don’t think this is the cause of the mail delay. I can send more information if you need it but I would appreciate any help you can come up with.

There are several factors that could be at play here. Let’s look at a couple.

Read moreWhy Does Mail Hang Around in My Outbox Before Being Sent?

Can I access the mail on my desktop from a networked machine?


Hi, Leo. Is it possible somehow to access the contents in the email folders in my desktop computer from my network laptop, which is setup with the same email account? The desktop is out of action for the moment but I’d like to check some emails. The operating systems are Windows XP and I’m running Outlook Express.

The default answer is no, particularly for what are likely the default settings in the scenario that you’ve outlined. But there are ways that if things are set up differently, the scenario can in fact be made to work, kind of.

Read moreCan I access the mail on my desktop from a networked machine?

How Do I Get My New Email to Be the Default Email in Windows?

This is complicated for me to put into print: I have a Windows Live email, which according to Microsoft, was hacked and unusable. I opened an email. Everything that has a right-click (such as Send To) goes to that old Live email. How can I right-click on an item, click Send To, and have it go to my email?

This is actually a surprisingly complicated and confusing scenario because we’re talking about two completely separate things.

I’ll try and clarify.

Read moreHow Do I Get My New Email to Be the Default Email in Windows?

How do I send someone a large file?

OK, I get that using email to send large files has lots of problems. So how am I supposed to do it? I have a large file that I need to send to someone; if I shouldn’t use email, what can I do?

A fair question.

Email certainly has the convenience factor nailed: add an attachment, press Send, and off it goes. The problem is that it might not get wherever you want it to go.

When it comes to large files in particular, we need to look at things just a little differently.

Read moreHow do I send someone a large file?

Did Someone Log In to Google with My Password?

I just got this message in my Google email, “Someone recently tried to use an application to sign into your Google account.” The suspicious sign-in was in China, so apparently Google thought it might not be me and blocked it. What I want to know is did this suspicious sign-in actually use my correct password? Or did they just try to sign-in with random passwords hoping to stumble across the correct one?

I want to start by saying that I haven’t encountered this myself. Maybe I’m lucky.

Nonetheless, this is a very cool feature on Google’s part. Watching out for account theft like that is a very interesting and positive thing and I applaud Google for taking the initiative to understand what may and may not be a legitimate login for an account.

That said, what really happened here?

Read moreDid Someone Log In to Google with My Password?

What if the forwarding service goes away?

Some years ago, I subscribed to an email forwarding system by the name of This allowed me to change the ISP without changing my address. However, forevermail itself appears to have gone out of business. It has obviously left the forwarding addresses functioning on a server somewhere because the few users’ emails from users that have not changed to my address still arrive in my Outlook system. Do you know how I can remove this old address? I’ve tried mailing the domain owner, but I get no reply. With your advice, I have  purchased my own domain and therefore, I control of my own address now.

In your scenario, there’s practically nothing that can be done. If a service that you rely on goes away, you’re basically out of luck. There really isn’t any protocol or particular leverage that you or I might have to do something with a company, website, or service that disappeared.

But I do have some suggestions on what you could do.

Read moreWhat if the forwarding service goes away?

Why Can’t People Click on Links I Send Them?

Hi, Leo. Thanks for your extremely helpful advice with regard to everything. I have a Gmail account and I often feel like sending important newsletters to my friend. Each time I do that, however, none of my friends are able to click any of the embedded links (such as the ones that say, “click here”). I’d like to know why I’m not able to forward any such newsletters when I do so through the Gmail basic HTML or mobile interface – and why the same newsletter can successfully be forwarded through the desktop clients?

I’m at a bit of a loss as to why sending via an internet-based email program would be different than a desktop email application in this regard. Ultimately, the forwarded email message is the same.

But I have several ideas that may affect what’s going on here.

Read moreWhy Can’t People Click on Links I Send Them?

Where do attachments live once they’re sent?

I am very nervous about the security of an email attachment that I sent not long ago. I was in the process of obtaining a new job which I didn’t end up taking and I had to fill out a form that included information like my Social Security Number, date of birth and so on. I didn’t think about it at the time, but it was for legitimate reasons so I went ahead and scanned it and attached it to a Yahoo email. I sent the email to a trusted person and went on with my life. However, what I didn’t think about was that the attachment in Yahoo was not encrypted as far as I know. I ended up not taking the job and deleting the email from my Sent folder. Now, for all I know, it’s still sitting in the inbox of the other person and could do so until eternity. Where would this attachment be stored? On their severs or Yahoo’s? If I were to simply delete my Yahoo email account, would that render the attachment gone on their end? I’m being a little paranoid, I know, I’ll admit it. I just want to know if there’s anything else I can do other than to avoid sending attachments like that again?

Attachments live “with” the email, and the short answer about email is what’s been sent cannot be unsent. Once you send a piece of email, you lose all control over it.

It’s kind of like the internet; once you’ve posted something, it’s almost impossible to remove all the copies.

Now, email is definitely not public, but I do want to emphasize the word “copies.”

Read moreWhere do attachments live once they’re sent?

Just How Secure Is Email, Anyway?


My business requires the emailing of some sensitive information on a regular basis. I have spoken with my boss and co-workers about all of us using an encrypted email system, but no one seems to think there is a significant threat or danger out there to require these extra steps in security. Can you offer any data to help me convince them that this is a good idea?

Actually, I don’t have hard data to say one way or the other. The risk varies too much on too many factors to really present data that’ll apply in any specific situation.

But we can definitely look at some of the specific factors.

Read moreJust How Secure Is Email, Anyway?

How Do I Move My Outlook Express Email from Windows XP to Windows 7?

I get variations of this question a lot since Microsoft made the decision to remove Outlook Express – or any email program for that matter – from Windows 7.

Unfortunately, Outlook Express is not available for Windows 7.

That means it’s time to migrate to a different email program.

In this (lengthy) article, I’ll show you how to move from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail (the easiest moving option), step by annoying step. With lots of pictures.

Read moreHow Do I Move My Outlook Express Email from Windows XP to Windows 7?

Thunderbird – A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is my choice for email. I use it all day every day, and I can heartily recommend it as an often more powerful and capable replacement for mail programs like Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail and many other desktop email applications.

The feature list is long, but I want to call out some of my favorite features and some of the things that personally draw me to Thunderbird and cause me to make it my recommendation for almost anyone using a desktop email program.

Read moreThunderbird – A Free, Open Source, and Powerful Email Client