Using “hard delete” in Microsoft Outlook

I know most of you have used the keyboard shortcut Shift + Delete to permanently delete items from your respective brand of Microsoft Operating Systems. This shortcut removes a selected item from the current window without sending it to the Recycle Bin or Deleted items folder in Microsoft Outlook. This neat command is referred to as hard delete by Microsoft.

However neat this command is you must always use it with caution because you might end up deleting something you actually need permanently unless you know how to recover it.

In Microsoft Outlook, deleted e-mails are sent to the Deleted Items where they stay until the program is shut down. This might be appropriate for some of you readers but if you want to change the circumstance for individual items, you can select it and press Shift + Delete to avoid it being sent to the Deleted Items folder. This way it get deleted permanently without you having to shut down your Microsoft Outlook E-mail Client, but I want to impress on you the importance of caution when using hard delete, you may mistakenly delete an e-mail you need and in this case you can employ other methods to find the just deleted item:

  • You can look for it in your backups
  • or you can retrieve it from your mail server that is if your client does not reflect changes to the server
  • or maybe you can find a copy from e-mails that you probably forwarded to other recipients

All in all you can find copies of something you deleted permanently somewhere and whether finding another copy is to your advantage or disadvantage will wholly depend on your situation.

Most clients can be configured to handle trash/deleted items folder differently. These setting can be changed through the specific client’s options menu. If you need some help in configuring this for your respective e-mail client comment on this post mentioning your client.

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