I can't find all my email

One of the most common queries we receive is about individuals not seeing messages they've received, or being unable to find older messages.  This is an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page about these sorts of issues.  Please review this document if you are having these issues.  If none of them are the solution, please contact the Service Desk.

Check for mail being marked as Junk

No spam filter is perfect.  There is always a risk of false-positives (legitimate messages marked as Junk).  Because of this - we recommend periodically checking your Junk Email folder in Office 365.

If you see a message in your Junk folder that is not junk, you can report it to Microsoft to improve the filtering in the future.  If you are looking at such a message, there's a line between the subject line and the sender's address that says:
"This message was identified as junk.  We'll delete it after 30 days.  It's not junk".  Click on "It's not junk" to report it.

I'm not seeing my newest mail

There are two possible reasons for this that we've seen.

Too many pinned messages

There's a bug with Microsoft that we've seen impact a few users that occurs if you have too many messages 'pinned' in your Inbox.  We've usually seen this happen for people who have dozens of messages pinned.  We strongly recommend you keep the pinned messages count under 10-15 in any given folder.

If you need to keep track of some messages for longer - create a "To Do" or "Unfinished" or "Reference" or some similar folder (whatever you want to call them) and drag/drop those messages to that folder.

Sorting order issues

The most common cause of this is your sorting order has been inadvertently changed.  To fix this - make sure your mail is set to sort by date, and with newest at the top (the default).

To do this:

  1. Click on Filter at the top of your Inbox
  2. Click Sort
  3. Ensure Sort by is set to Date
  4. Also make sure that Sort order near the bottom is set to Newest on top

The screenshot below demonstrates the four steps above.

Can't find some recent messages

If you are having issues finding emails, or you believe some emails may be missing, the first thing to do is make sure your display settings are set to show all messages.

There are a few things that Microsoft does which makes finding emails a challenge at times - Conversation View and the Focused Inbox.


Conversation View

Conversation view is Microsoft's way of grouping messages in a single conversation.  When conversation view is enabled, and you are part of an email thread, all those messages are grouped together.  Here's an example of a how a grouping of messages shows up in conversation view:
Example of a message in conversation mode - unexpanded

If you click the > button (to the left of the subject line) you'll see that there's two messages in this thread (but it could have been 2, 5, 20, or who knows how much involving a thread with many people):
Screenshot of conversation mode with message expanded

If you like this - great.  If not - or if you're finding it hard to find messages, we strongly recommend disabling this mode.

To disable Conversation VIew

  1. Click the gear icon at the top right of your email.
  2. By default you should be in the Mail -> Layout section of the settings.  If you're not, go to that section.
  3. Change the Message organization section from Show email grouped by conversation to Show email as individual messages.
  4. Click the X button at the top right of the settings window to close settings.
    Screenshot showing users to click the gear icon at the top right, then the location of the Arrange Message List section


Focused Inbox

Focused Inbox is off by default, but if you've enabled it after that, it could be an issue.  Focused Inbox is something people love, hate, or are completely unaware of.  It is Microsoft's newest way to organize mail by perceived importance.  It breaks mail into two sections:

  • Focused - Mail that Microsoft believes is more important to you
  • Other - Mail that Microsoft believes is less important to you.

They make these determinations through machine learning - but no machine is perfect.  A lot of people don't know to look at this "Other" section, and miss emails.

Information Technology Services recommends leaving the Focused Inbox feature disabled.  If you don't disable it - you should at least check the Other folder regularly.  ITS is not responsible for mail not seen due to it being placed in Other instead of Focused Inbox if you re-enable Focused Inbox.

To disable Focused Inbox

  1. Click the gear icon at the top right of your email
  2. Under the "Focused Inbox" heading, change "Sort messages into Focused and Other" to "Don't sort my messages"
  3. Click the X icon at the top right to close the settings.
    Screenshot with steps to disable focused inbox


Do you have a lot of pinned messages?

As of Summer 2021, we've seen issues with several people who have too many pinned emails (this is where you mark a message to stay at the top of the Inbox - before all other non-pinned messages).  We've seen with people with a lot of these messages (50+) that they don't see all their new email.  We recommend pinning no more than a handful of messages (5, 10, maybe 20).  If you need to keep more messages as a 'to-do' or 'reference' list, create a folder called "Pinned", "To Do" or something like that, and drag/drop your pinned messages here.


I still can't find what I'm looking for

If you've disabled Focused Inbox, and Conversation View - there are a few other places to check:

  • Use the search box at the top.  If the message exists anywhere on your account (with the exception of the "Recovery Area" where items removed from the Deleted Items folder go), you should be able to find it with the search.  Just type something related to the message you're looking for (topic, sender's name, etc.) in the Search box.
  • Check your Junk Email folder.  Mail may be placed in the Junk Email for a number of reasons, but if you are missing messages you should check it.  If you do find a message marked as Junk that shouldn't be, you can right click on that message to report it as not-junk (which will improve the filtering for similar messages for you).  If you find the messages you are looking for in your Junk folder, see our article on Valid messages being marked as Junk.


Can't find one or more folders

See this article if you have folders that you cannot seem to find.  This article shows you how to recognize folders with sub-folders, and how to expand them.


Can't see mail older than one year

If you are only seeing mail from within the last year, and are using the Outlook Desktop (not the web) client, this is because the application only keeps a copy of the past year's mail on your local computer by default.  You can view older messages as follows:

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the list of folders.  You should see a message like the following:
  2. Click the button where it says "Click here to view more on Microsoft Exchange" (highlighted in red in the image above).


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Article ID: 26915
Fri 3/10/17 11:56 AM
Wed 5/8/24 8:25 AM