Office 365 - I can't find a message, or a message was not delivered or received

This document will provide information on how to search for a message that you can't find or have reason to believe was not delivered.


  1. Perform a message search in Outlook on the web: Office 365 (Outlook on the web) - Search for messages and people, and look for the folder it's in: Office 365 - Find the folder location of a message when using the search function.
  2. If the message is not found via a search in the mailbox, search in the 'Recover Deleted Items' folder: Office 365 - Recover deleted items.
  3. If the message is not found via a search in the 'Recover Deleted Items' folder, confirm that the search terms used are appropriate, based on: Office 365 (Outlook on the web) - Search for messages and people.
  4. If the message cannot be found with specific search terms noted in step 3, contact the original sender to ask them to re-send the message.
  1. If you received a Non-Delivery Report, inspect it for any error message or indication of the sending issue, and proceed to troubleshoot using that information; a mail message trace is not needed. Learn more about mail delivery errors in the following document: Office 365 / WiscMail / WiscMail Plus - Understanding SMTP errors.
  2. If you did not receive a Non-Delivery Report, check your 'Sent Items' folder to confirm that you did indeed send the message. If so, send the message to its intended recipient again; a mail message trace is not needed.
  3. If you find the message in your 'Sent Items' folder and send it again but the recipient still cannot find it, then:
    1. Ask them to perform a complete search of their mailbox for the message, and to check their local client and server Inbox Rules to make sure they do not have a rule that would have deleted, forwarded, or moved the message outside of their Inbox.

    2. If the recipient is a UW-Madison Office 365 user, have them follow the instructions to search their mailbox in Outlook on the web, here: Office 365 (Outlook on the web) - Search for messages and people.

    3. If the recipient finds the message or confirms it was forwarded, a mail message trace is not needed. Note: If the message was not in the inbox, it may have been moved to another location/folder due to an inbox rule or junk mail filters.

    4. If the recipient is a UW-Madison Office 365 user, and they are accessing their Office 365 account via a non-Microsoft client, ask them to remove their account from all non-Microsoft clients and send the message to recipient again. If they receive the message, then a mail message trace is not needed.

  4. If the intended recipient cannot find the message after trying the above steps, the message may have been deleted. If the recipient is a UW-Madison Office 365 user, have them follow the steps to search their 'Recover Deleted Items' folder: Office 365 - Recover deleted items and recover the deleted message if it's found. If the message is found and recovered, a mail message trace is not needed.
  5. If the message cannot be found or re-sent after working through the above steps, and you would like to request a mail message trace to confirm that the message was actually delivered, please note:

    • All message trace requests are subject to the review and approval of Office 365 technical leadership.
    • Only requests to trace messages related to UW-Madison business will reviewed.
    • Traces cannot be performed on messages sent/received more than 90 days ago.

    If you would like to pursue requesting a mail message trace, please contact the DoIT Help Desk and provide the following information:

    • Sender email address
    • Recipient email address
    • Subject of message
    • Date and time when the message was sent (must be within 90 days)

Important (What a message trace will return):

  • For a recipient outside UW-Madison's Office 365 environment: it will confirm if the mail server accepted the message.
  • For a recipient inside UW-Madison's Office 365 environment: it will confirm if the mailbox accepted the message.
  • In both cases, this process will not retrieve the message.
  1. If a Non-Delivery Report (NDR) was received by the original sender, then request the NDR from the sender. Once obtained, inspect the NDR for any error message or indication of the sending issue, and proceed to troubleshoot using that information; a mail message trace is not needed. Learn more about mail delivery errors in the following document: Office 365 / WiscMail / WiscMail Plus - Understanding SMTP errors.
  2. If a Non-Delivery Report was not received by the original sender, then request that the sender search their 'Sent Items' folder to confirm that they did indeed send the message. If they find the message, ask them to send it to you again; a mail message trace is not needed.
  3. If the sender finds the message in their 'Sent Items' folder:
    1. Perform a complete search of your own mailbox in Outlook on the web.

    2. If you find the message, Look for the folder it's in.

    3. Check your local client and server Inbox Rules and junk mail filters to make sure you do not have a rule that would have deleted, forwarded, or moved the message outside of the Inbox.

    4. If you find the message or confirm it was forwarded, a mail message trace is not needed.

    5. If you are accessing your Office 365 account via a non-Microsoft client, remove your account from all non-Microsoft clients and ask the sender to send the message to you again. If you receive the message, then a mail message trace is not needed.

  4. If the message is not found via a search in your mailbox, search in your 'Recover Deleted Items' folder and recover the message if it's found: Office 365 - Recover deleted items. If you find and recover the message, a mail message trace is not needed.
  5. If the message is not found via a search in your 'Recover Deleted Items' folder, confirm that the search terms are appropriate, based on: Office 365 (Outlook on the web) - Search for messages and people.
  6. If you cannot find the message after working through the above steps, and you would like to request a mail message trace to confirm that the message was actually received, please note:

    • All message trace requests are subject to the review and approval of Office 365 technical leadership.
    • Only requests to trace messages related to UW-Madison business will reviewed.
    • Traces cannot be performed on messages sent/received more than 90 days ago.

    If you would like to pursue requesting a mail message trace, please contact the DoIT Help Desk and provide the following information:

    • Sender email address
    • Recipient email address
    • Subject of message
    • Date and time when the message was sent (must be within 90 days)

Important (What a message trace will return):

  • For a recipient outside UW-Madison's Office 365 environment: it will confirm if the mail server accepted the message.
  • For a recipient inside UW-Madison's Office 365 environment: it will confirm if the mailbox accepted the message.
  • In both cases, this process will not retrieve the message.
For UW-Madison's Office 365 Team

If a case requesting a message trace is escalated to the Office 365 Technical/Functional WiscIT queue, confirm that the DoIT Help Desk has completed all the relevant troubleshooting steps with the customer. If all relevant steps in this document are not taken and noted in the case notes, send the case back to the DoIT Help Desk and ask them to complete the steps and note them in the case. If they have worked through the relevant steps and noted them in the case, make sure they have provided the required message details for the trace and send the request to Tamara Walker for review and approval/rejection of trace. If approved, send the request to Office 365 mail system administrators and inform the customer we will follow up with them when we have the trace results. If rejected, follow up with the requesting customer to explain why their request was rejected.




Keywords:microsoft ms office365 o365 missing messages lost emails trace request search find email mail missed delivery flow mailflow bounce non report deleted sent not delivered can't find cannot undelivered gone unable   Doc ID:77141
Owner:Ara M.Group:Office 365
Created:2017-10-03 11:49 CSTUpdated:2017-12-14 10:22 CST
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
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