Securely Deleting Email

Securely Deleting Email

NOTE: The directions on this page explain how to permanently delete and then purge messages from your account. They should only be used to purge sensitive/secure emails so that they can no longer be recovered. It is recommended that you do NOT purge other emails from your account in case you need to recover them later.

When an email that contains sensitive information needs to be completely purged from your inbox, simply deleting the email isn’t enough. Deleted messages get moved to a Deleted Items folder, where they are held for 30 days and then automatically purged. Before the 30-day period is over, messages can be recovered or purged manually.

Purging an email from your account is a two-step process. First, you must “permanently delete” the email. Permanently deleting a message moves it to a Recoverable Items folder, which is hidden from view. Second, you must purge the message from your Recoverable Items folder.

1. Go to

2. Sign in with your Tufts email address and password.

3. Select the email in your Inbox that you would like to delete.

4. Click Delete.

Office 365 Delete button

5. Click on the Deleted Items folder to open it.

Office 365 Deleted Items folder

6. Find the email again. Select it and click Delete once again.

Office 365 deleting email from Deleted Items folder

7. You will be asked if you want to permanently delete the email. Click OK. The email will be moved to the Recoverable Items folder.

Office 365 confirming permanent delete of email from Deleted Items

8. Click on Recover items deleted from this folder at the top of the Deleted Items list. This will open the Recoverable Items folder.

Office 365 selecting Recoverable Items folder

9. Click on the email once again to highlight it.

10. Click Delete.

Office 365 Recoverable Items folder

11. You will be asked again if you want to permanently delete the email. Click OK. The email will be deleted and can no longer be recovered.

Office 365 confirm delete from Recoverable Items folder


1. Open the Outlook desktop application.

2. Select the message(s) in your Inbox to be deleted. (If you previously deleted the message, you can find it in the Deleted Items folder.)

3. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click Delete in the top control bar.

Outlook Desktop app Delete button

4. In the confirmation window that appears, click Yes. This will move the message to the Recoverable Items folder.

Outlook desktop app confirming permanent delete

5. Select the Folder tab in the top menu.

Outlook desktop app folder tab with Recover Deleted Items option highlighted

6. Click Recover Deleted Items.

7. In the Recover Deleted Items window, select the message(s) you want to manage.

8. Select Purge Selected Items at the bottom of the window.

9. Click Ok.

Outlook desktop app recoverable items folder

10. A warning will appear that you are about to permanently delete the selected messages and you will no longer be able to recover them. To proceed, click OK.

Outlook desktop app confirming delete from Recoverable Items


Although the Mac Outlook desktop application allows you to “permanently delete” emails, those emails will still be located in the hidden Recoverable Items folder, which you cannot access through the Mac Outlook application. Those messages can still be recovered.

If you wish to purge emails, follow the directions in the "Outlook Web App (Office 365)" section above.