Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office Expert
Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE)
WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Certified
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you getting weekly or even daily messages from your system administrator
saying that you need to reduce the size of your Microsoft Outlook
mailbox? This can lead to a lot of wasted time, and frustration,
cleaning up your mailbox. What are the best ways to trim down the size
of your Inbox, stop those annoying reminders, and save time managing
your Outlook e-mail messages?
tips for a faster, more organized approach to keep your mailbox (Outlook
2007 or Outlook 2003) smaller
and easier to work with.
Note: Although these techniques are most
valuable to Outlook users running under Microsoft Exchange, you can
still cleanup your mailbox if you are running Outlook as a stand-alone
1. Mailbox Cleanup
The best place to start in Microsoft Outlook is with the Mailbox Cleanup tool. To
find this option in Outlook 2010, go to File > Cleanup Tools
(under the Info tab) and then pick Mailbox Cleanup.
In Outlook 2007 or 2003, Mailbox Cleanup is
found under the Tools menu.
First, choose the View Mailbox Size option which scans
the size of your mailbox and all of the subfolders. You'll see a
listing of the size of your Outlook folders. This is a great
way to target which folders are the biggest contributors to your
large mailbox so you can clean these up first.
- Next, pick the options to Find older or larger items
which you can delete directly from the results.
- Depending on your archive settings (see Archive Older
Messages below), you can also run an AutoArchive to move
older messages to a location which isn't counted against your
- Finally, check the size of the Deleted Items
folder and Empty the folder if you want (specific options
detailed below as well). If available, another
option is to view and delete multiple versions of items in our
2. Move Messages to Your Personal Folders
Another way to reduce the size of your mailbox is to move Outlook
items to your Personal Folders. Even though the messages are no longer
counted in the size of your mailbox, the Personal Folders file (outlook.pst)
is stored on your local hard drive and is not accessible remotely. You
should also backup this file to prevent losing these Outlook items if
your computer goes down or is updated. If you are running a stand alone
version of Outlook your e-mail, calendar, tasks, and notes are all
stored in the outlook.pst file which has a size limit of 20GB.
3. Archive Older Messages
A useful maintenance step is to periodically archive your Outlook
folders. The archive.pst file can be created and updated at any location
you specify, usually your local hard drive. Archived items are removed
from your mailbox and moved to the archive file based on the settings you
determine. Just as with the Personal Folders file, your archived items
are not accessible remotely; the file should be backed up on a regular
To setup archive preferences in Outlook 2010, click on File >
Cleanup Tools which is under the Info tab. Choose Archive
from Cleanup Tools.
For Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2003, setup your archive preferences under the File > Archive
4. Empty Deleted Items
Quickly clean up your deleted items by automatically emptying the
Deleted Items folder when you exit Outlook.
To set this option in Outlook 2010, pick File > Options and
then choose the Advanced category. Under the section labeled
"Outlook start and exit", check the option, Empty Deleted Items
folder when exiting Outlook. To manually clear deleted items in
Outlook 2010, right-click the Deleted Items folder and then pick
Empty Folder or go to File > Cleanup Tools > Empty Deleted
To apply this option in Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2003, select
Tools > Options > Other tab. Under the General section, check
Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting and OK to
apply. To manually clear deleted items, right-click the Deleted Items
folder and click Empty “Deleted Items” Folder on the shortcut
menu or click Empty “Deleted Items” Folder on the Tools
Once you clear deleted items, it cannot be reversed. If you feel confident that you want to delete a message forever, you
can bypass the Deleted Items folder by pressing [Shift] + [Delete]
instead of just the [Delete] key. Then, just confirm the delete
5. Save and Remove Attachments
Attachments in e-mail messages are responsible for a bulk of the
space used in your Outlook mailbox. Depending on the communication, one
option is to save the attachment and then to remove the attachment from
the original message:
- Open the message.
- In Outlook 2010, right-click on an attachment and then
left-click Save All Attachments. In Outlook 2007, choose Other Actions from the Task
tab. Then pick Save Attachments. In Outlook 2003, pick the
File menu and then Save Attachments.
- Once you have saved the attachment, delete the message if it
doesn’t need to be retained. If you need to keep the message, you
can remove attachments from a message by right-clicking them
and choosing Remove (Remove Attachment in Outlook
Start applying these mailbox clean up actions to grab greater
control over the size and contents of your mailbox.
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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Press [Shift] + [Delete] to
bypass the "Deleted Items" folder and to delete
a message directly.
|Press [Ctrl] +
[Shift] + M to create a new mail message from any location in