Why Is My Inbox Not Showing All Mail in Gmail?

By Gissimee Doe

Losing important emails can be costly.
i Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Not being able to find all your mail in your Gmail inbox can be frustrating. There are many possible reasons for some of your mail going missing. Fortunately, you should be able to find the source of this problem with a little troubleshooting, and the most common causes of missing mail are easily fixed. Your mail can go missing from your inbox because of filters or forwarding, or because of POP and IMAP settings in your other mail systems. Your mail server or email systems could also be downloading and saving local copies of your messages and deleting them from Gmail.


Gmail lets you set filters that move messages matching a set of criteria to a location you’ve specified. Filters place matched messages in your folders, so a message that has been filtered will not show up in your inbox but will still be in your Gmail system. Check the filters you’ve set up to see if you’ve enabled the “Skip the Inbox (Archive it)” or “Delete it” options and modify them as necessary to keep your missing mail in your main inbox. Check your folders for important messages that haven’t turned up in your inbox. If you’ve set your filters to delete your mail, check your trash. If Gmail has emptied the trash, you won’t be able to recover these messages.


You can set up forwarding on your Gmail account to forward your emails to a different email account. If you’ve set up forwarding, check to ensure that you haven’t ticked the “Archive Gmail's copy” or “Delete Gmail's copy” options. If you’ve selected the “Archive Gmail's copy” option, your forwarded emails will not be in your inbox but in your archive, which you can access by clicking the “Archive” link in the navigation sidebar. If you’ve selected the "Delete Gmail's Copy” option, your email will either be in the Trash folder or deleted from your inbox if the trash retention period has passed.


If you use a POP client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird to download your emails from Gmail and save them on another system such as your local computer, your POP client could be deleting copies of your downloaded emails. Check your POP settings on your client side and ensure that you haven’t selected an option to delete copies of the email on the server. Check Gmail’s settings to ensure that you haven’t selected the “Archive Gmail's Copy” or “Delete Gmail's Copy” options.


Your emails can go missing from your Gmail inbox for more than one reason, especially if you use multiple POP clients to download your emails. You’ll need to check the settings on each POP client to ensure that they all have the “Leave a Copy of My Emails on the Server” option ticked. You’ll also need to check all the settings on each application that interacts with your Gmail to make sure a setting on one of them isn’t at fault. This can get tedious, so it’s best to check your settings thoroughly when making your initial configurations as well as every time you change them.