Did Chris Pratt’s 51,000 emails really delete?

Chris Pratt released a video showing 51,000 emails being deleted from his computer.  Are they really completely lost?  We doubt it.

On Instagram we see his shock as the Trash folder gradually counts down the messages being removed from his computer.  That’s supposedly the 51,000 Inbox messages that he’d promised to respond to during lockdown.

(Mr Christopher Pratt is an actor, m’lord. In the modern style – we’re not talking Shakespeare and Strindberg – more like Parks and Recreation & The Lego Movie.)


First the Inbox messages had to be all selected and deleted (Move to Trash). Then the Trash folder has to be explicitly deleted.

All that needs specific commands and it’s hard to see that all happening accidently.

Even if it did happen, closing the program should stop the deletion.  That would be a more practical action than making an Instagram video.

Really deleted?

As regular readers of Office-Watch.com may know, emails are really hard to truly delete.  Even clearing out the Trash / Deleted Items folder only means the items have disappeared from view. Usually they can still be recovered because the messages are still stored on the computer and on the mail host.

We’ve seen this before over the years and tested it for ourselves in Outlook.

Presidential passport details leaked – Outlook is blamed

When is an Outlook Deleted Item not deleted?

Outlook’s ‘Permanent’ delete but doesn’t – how we tested it.

It looks like Chris Pratt is using Mac Mail (not Outlook for Mac) but the same principles still apply.  Modern Mac computers have Time Machine which automatically backup files and emails (Mac Mail or Outlook for Mac).  It’s easy to restore emails from Time Machine.

And that’s just considering the mail saved on the computer.  The mail host (Gmail, Outlook.com etc) should still have a copy of all the deleted / Trash messages.  On Exchange Server systems, even items removed from the Deleted Items folder can still be recovered. There’s an option to do that on top of the Deleted Items list.

What’s going on?

Maybe he’s getting out of a promise?  As BBC News reports, Chris Pratt aimed to read 1,000 unread emails a day during lockdown out of a 35,000 unread backlog.

Perhaps he realised there were better things to do than read spam emails or pointless old messages?

The Lesson

The lesson for all us non-celebrities is to have backups and even if something is ‘deleted’ from a computer it’s probably not really gone.  You might need your local computer geek to recover it, but the chances are good that the file or email is still there.

The video