How to Delete a Message Without Downloading It in Outlook

Save bandwidth by deleting emails before they hit your inbox

A pile of junk mail
Judith E. Bell / Flickr / Creative Commons

If you want to keep your inbox file size small or if you don't want to download messages, set up Outlook to avoid downloading complete messages by default but show you the headers (who the message is from and what its subject is, for example) instead. This way, you can go through the Outlook message list and select which messages to delete on the server.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003; and Outlook for Office 365. The download headers settings work with POP3 and Exchange accounts.

Delete a Message Without Downloading It in Outlook

To delete a message right away before it is downloaded in Outlook:

  1. Highlight the message you want to delete in the Outlook folder.​​ To highlight multiple messages, press and hold Ctrl while selecting them.

    An inbox showing only headers in Outlook.
  2. Right-click on the email header you wish to delete.

  3. Select Delete.

    Deleting an email header in Outlook.
  4. The messages are marked for deletion and will be deleted the next time Outlook checks for new mail.