How to Purge Deleted Messages Automatically in Outlook

Automatic purge of emails works when you're online

What to Know

  • Open Outlook and select Deleted Items folder > select Folder tab > AutoArchive Settings.
  • Next, select Deleted Items Properties > Archive this folder using these settings.
  • Change the Clean out items older than setting > select Permanently delete old items > OK.

This article explains how to automatically purge deleted messages in Outlook. Instructions apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Automatically Purge Deleted Messages in Outlook

To automatically purge messages in the Outlook Deleted Items folder:

  1. Open Outlook and select the Deleted Items folder.

    Screenshot of selecting the Deleted Items folder
  2. Go to the Folder tab and select AutoArchive Settings.

    Screenshot of AutoArchive settings in the Outlook ribbon
  3. In the Deleted Items Properties dialog box, select Archive this folder using these settings.

    Screenshot of the Deleted Items Properties window in Outlook
  4. Change the Clean out items older than setting to increase or decrease the amount of time before deleted items are permanently purged.

    Give yourself time to recover messages that were accidentally deleted. Set a purge delay of a few days, a week, or a month depending on how long you want to keep deleted messages in the Deleted Items folder.

  5. Select Permanently delete old items.

    Screenshot of Permanently delete old items setting in Outlook
  6. Select OK to finish and save the settings.

  7. Messages you delete are moved to the Deleted Items folder and are marked for deletion. After the time interval you've set, the messages are purged automatically.

Outlook does not purge messages automatically when you're working offline. Messages are purged when you open Outlook when you're working online.

Manually Purge Deleted Messages

If you don't want to automatically purge messages, use the manual approach: 

  1. Right-click the Deleted Items folder.

    Screenshot of selecting Deleted Items folder in Outlook
  2. Select Empty Folder.

    Screenshot of Empty Folder option in Outlook
  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select Yes.

  4. All items in the Deleted Items folder are purged immediately.

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