How to Archive Old Mail Using Outlook AutoArchive

Stay productive by instructing Outlook to archive messages for you

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Email can quickly fill your Outlook inbox leaving you plagued by masses of mail and folders that keep getting bigger and bigger. Stay productive by keeping your inbox light and clean. Of course, you can manually archive each individual message that arrives, but you can also turn on AutoArchive and let Outlook do the job of moving older messages to an archive for you.

Archive Mail Automatically Using Outlook AutoArchive

The AutoArchive feature is incorporated into the Windows version of Outlook (it is not in the Mac version). To turn on the AutoArchive feature in Outlook 2016, 2013, and 2010 for Windows:

  1. Click File > Options > Advanced.
  2. Click AutoArchive Settings under AutoArchive.
  3. In the Run AutoArchive every n days box, specify how often to run AutoArchive.
  4. Choose any other options. For example, you can instruct Outlook to delete old items instead of archiving them.
  5. Click OK.

Unless you specify a different time, Outlook applies a standard aging period to your Outlook messages. For your inbox, the aging period is six months, for sent and deleted items, it is two months, and 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.

  1. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  2. On the AutoArchive tab, select the options you want.

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