How to Access Archived Emails in Outlook

Learn where to find archived emails

Archiving old emails you don't want to delete is a good way to keep the size of your Outlook mailbox manageable. Just as there are a few different ways to archive emails in Outlook, there are multiple ways to find those messages when you need them. Learn how to access archived emails in Outlook using the method that corresponds with the way that you stored them initially.

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

How to Find the Archive Folder

If you have an Office 365, Exchange, Exchange Online, or Outlook.com accounts, your Archive folder already exists, even if you have never used it before. The folder is in your Outlook folder list.

  1. Open Outlook.

  2. Select the View tab.

    Screenshot of View tab in Outlook
  3. Select Folder Pane in the Layout section.

    Screenshot of Folder Pane drop-down menu
  4. Choose Normal from the drop-down list. The Archive folder should now appear in the folders list. Open the folder to find the archived message you need.

    Screenshot of Archive folder in folders list

Missing Archive Folder

If you are using Outlook 365, Outlook 2019, or Outlook 2016 and do not see the Archive folder, perform an update on Outlook.

  1. Select the File tab in Outlook.

  2. Select Office Account in the left pane.

    Screenshot of Office Account in left pane of File tab
  3. Select Update Options.

    Screenshot of Update Options on Office Account pane in Outlook
  4. Select Update Now. Microsoft will check for and install any available updates. When the updates are complete, the Archive folder should appear in the Outlook folders list.

How to Access the Outlook Online Archive Folder

If you have an Outlook Online email account, the archive folder is available online

  1. Go to Outlook.com and log in to your Outlook email account.

  2. Select the arrow next to Folders to expand the Outlook folders list if folders are not visible.

    Screenshot of Folders in Outlook.com
  3. Select Archive in the left pane under Folders. Your archived emails will appear.

    Screenshot of Archive folder in Outlook.com

How to Find Items in an Outlook Data File (.pst)

Your archived items might be stored in an Outlook data file, also known as a Personal Folders File (.pst), if you use a POP or IMAP account or if you use AutoArchive with your Exchange server email account. When you open the Personal Folders file in Outlook, you are able to search specific words or phrases.

  1. Open Outlook and select the File tab.

  2. Select Open and Export in the left pane.

    Screenshot of Open & Export
  3. Select Open Outlook Data File. The Open Outlook Data File dialog box will open.

    Screenshot of Open Outlook Data File
  4. Select the Outlook data file that you want to open and choose OK.

    By default, Outlook data files are stored at drive:\Users\username\Documents\Outlook Files\archive.pst in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7 (the drive and user name will be specific to your system).

  5. Select the arrow next to the Outlook data file in the navigation pane to expand the top level and see the subfolders in the file. Select a subfolder to see the contents.

Use Outlook's built-in search tools to search for a specific email, contact, or topic in the archive folder.