How to Purge Deleted Messages Automatically in Outlook

Automatic purge of emails works when you're online

Outlook doesn't immediately purge messages in the Deleted Items folder. This gives you the opportunity to undelete any items in the folder that were deleted by mistake. However, messages accumulate in the Deleted Items folder until the messages are purged manually every week or so or purged automatically on a set schedule.

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

Purge Deleted Messages Automatically 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.

Purging Deleted Messages Manually

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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