How to delete 80+ unread emails … without trying

June 30, 2007

I have to admit when it comes to productivity I owe a lot to Microsoft. I have been using Outlook for over 10 years now and One Note for over 4. Without these two programs I would be a mess. They help keep me organized and in touch with the people that I work with. So I am not totally complaining here just expressing some discontent with an event that took place yesterday.

I was in a rush (which is not a good time to be handling important items like e-mails) so this may have just been a lack of concentration, but I was mortified yesterday when I lost 80+ unread e-mails from my Outlook. Here is how it happened (I think):

The foldersI organize my e-mails using the folders in the top left hand corner of Outlook 2007. The folders that I use heavily are “Unread”, “Deleted”, “Inbox” and “Follow-Up (red)”. They help me keep track of the emails that I have not worked on, have been removed and those that I have said “Hey, I need to get back to this person”. While I was at the CFUnited conference this week, I went two days without answering e-mails (actually one night – Wednesday – which ended up being 2 days when you factor in that I was at a conference all day).

On Thursday before I left the conference I decided to clear out all of the junk e-mails in hopes that I would get to some of the real e-mails on my plane ride home. So I opened the “Unread” folder and on the right side started selecting the e-mail’s that I wanted to delete using the CRTL key from within the Inbox folder (Under the “unread” folder the contents are grouped by folder so that I can view all types of Unread e-mail).

However, I had the folder “inbox” selected (as you can see here)Inbox Folder

This causes some serious issues because it will bring over all of the e-mail’s in the entire folder, even if they are not selected. So, all of mye-mail’s, including the ones that I needed to read, ended up in the Deleted Items folder. No big deal at this point since I still have them. So I then proceed to highlight the e-mail’s that I wanted to keepDeleted Folder so that I could move them back into the inbox except when I moved them back in there was a weird message that appeared.

At first, I decided to say “no” – feeling that copying these images over was not a good idea maybe I had clicked something improperly. I decided to try again – again the same message. This time I decided to say “yes”. When I said “yes” all of the e-mail’s that I had copied appeared inside a new email (addressed currently to noone) as attachments.Deleted Message I said to myself – no way do I want that. I then clicked the “x” button on the e-mail message to close it. However, when I did that – all of the e-mail’s which were originally located in the deleted folder (by way of the Inbox) were all gone! Ouch!

Ever have that “click-of-death” feeling. Like that click you just executed was not a good one and the likelyhood that you would recover successfully from that click were slim to non? Yeah – that’s how I felt. Not fun.

The reason I believe that this happened? I had the “Today” folder highlighted in the Deleted Folders area (much like I had done on the Inbox to get myself into the mess in the first place). Arrrgh!!! There has to be an extra level of protection here. Now I can see why some organizations make a copy of every e-mail and forward it to a “holding” account in addition to delivering it to the appropriate box. Makes sense now!Deleted folder

Maybe as a fail safe, Outlook should integrate with your computers “Recycle Bin” so that this type of stuff won’t happen. I guess I would like a few more “Are you sure you want to delete this?” messages followed by your computer saying “Ok, this guy is an idiot, I will still save a backup even if he thinks it is a bad idea”.

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3 Responses to “How to delete 80+ unread emails … without trying”

  1. mikull Says:

    that “click-of-death” feeling… is the worst. i feel your pain, my friend.

  2. notronwest Says:

    And to top that off, I now can not edit a very important calendar event because Outlook is kindly informing me that:

    Can not open calendar item because end date is before start date

    My question is:
    A: How did that get like that
    B: Why did Outlook ever let it get that way?

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