How to Archive Old Mail Using Outlook AutoArchive

Stay productive by instructing Outlook to archive messages for you

archive enter button key on white background

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It's easy for email to fill up your Outlook inbox, leaving you with an inbox that keeps getting bigger and bigger. You could manually archive individual messages when they arrive, but this takes time. Instead, turn on AutoArchive and let Outlook move older messages to an archive for you.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Outlook for Office 365.

Archive Mail Automatically Using Outlook AutoArchive in Windows

The AutoArchive feature is incorporated into the desktop version of Outlook. To turn on the AutoArchive feature:

  1. Open Outlook, go to the File tab, then select Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, select Advanced.

    Screenshot of Advanced options in Outlook desktop
  3. In the AutoArchive section, select AutoArchive Settings.

    Screenshot of selecting AutoArchive Settings in Outlook Options
  4. Select the Run AutoArchive every n days check box, then specify how often to run AutoArchive.

    Screenshot of setting autoarchive frequency in Outlook for desktop
  5. Set any other options you'd like to customize AutoArchive.

  6. Select OK to finish

Customizing AutoArchive in Outlook

You can customize the AutoArchive feature in Outlook in many ways.

  • Prompt before AutoArchive Runs: If you want to know when Outlook automatically archives old emails.
  • Delete expired items: Outlook permanently deletes old emails that are older than a set number of days.
  • Show archive folder in folder list: Displays the archive folder so you can review archived emails and save any in a personal folder if you want to keep them.
  • Clean out items older than: Set an expiration limit for when archived emails are permanently deleted.
  • Move old items to: Moves emails to a folder on your computer rather than deleting them.

The Aging Period for Emails

Unless you specify a different time frame, Outlook applies a standard aging period to your Outlook messages. For your inbox, the aging period is six months by default. For sent and deleted items, it's two months. For the outbox, the aging period is three months.

When messages reach their designated aging period, they are marked for archiving at the next AutoArchive session.

After you turn on AutoArchive, make sure you specify at the folder level what constitutes old mail and how it should be treated.

You can also archive items manually if your main Outlook file grows too large.