How to Archive Emails in Outlook

Get rid of old emails manually or automatically

Image of an Archive button

 PonyWang/Getty Images

Most people who use email clients tend to let emails accumulate inside their inbox, but once those emails total tens of thousands, Outlook's performance can suffer.

Thankfully, you can learn how to archive emails in Outlook and finally manage those old emails, either manually or automatically.

How to Archive Emails in Outlook Manually

If you prefer to control when your old emails are archived and where they're archived, there's a manual process you can follow to do that. You can manually archive email messages inside any folder.

  1. Open Outlook and select File > Info > Tools > Clean Up Old Items.

    Screenshot of selecting Clean Up Old Items
  2. In the Archive pop-up window, select Archive this folder and all subfolders, then select the folder where you want to archive items.

  3. Select the Archive items older than drop-down list, then set the date beyond which you'd like to archive messages.

    Screenshot of manually archiving messages

    You can also select Browse to identify a unique PST file you'd like to use for this archive. Or you can keep it as the default file name.

  4. Select OK. Outlook will now archive the messages in that folder according to the settings you've configured.

  5. If you'd rather archive messages in all folders rather than individual ones, select Archive all folders according to their AutoArchive settings. If you select this, you'll need to go back to the Home tab, right-click one of the folders you want to set the AutoArchive settings for, then select Properties.

    Screenshot of selecting folder properties
  6. In the Properties window, select the AutoArchive tab.

  7. Select Archive this folder using these settings, then configure the settings to how many months of messages you want to keep, and where to move old items.

    Screenshot of setting AutoArchive folder settings

Using AutoArchive Settings, configure both how messages get archived when you've enabled AutoArchive, as well as how messages are archived when you manually archive them using the AutoArchive settings.

How to Manually Trigger AutoArchive

You can trigger AutoArchive either manually or automatically. If you've already set up your AutoArchive settings for all of your folders as described above, you can trigger the archive procedure instantly.

Screenshot of AutoArchive trigger

Select File > Info > Tools > Mailbox Cleanup, then select AutoArchive to trigger the archival process. This will use the AutoArchive settings you've configured for each mail folder.

How to Automatically Trigger AutoArchive

In addition to manually triggering the archive procedure, you can also set up AutoArchive to run on a regular basis.

  1. Select File > Options > Advanced > AutoArchive Settings.

    Screenshot of selecting AutoArchive Settings
  2. In the AutoArchive settings window, select Run AutoArchive every and enter how often you want to run AutoArchive.

    Screenshot of AutoArchive settings in Outlook

    You can configure the settings to prompt when AutoArchive runs, and set it to either delete old email messages, or move them to an archive PST file on your computer.

  3. Select OK and AutoArchive will run at the interval you set, so you never have to worry about your inbox taking up too much space.

Use Outlook Sweep to AutoArchive in Outlook Web

On Outlook Web, archiving messages is a manual process. A function called Outlook Sweep helps you keep your inbox clean.

It's impossible to change the age of the messages you archive, but at least the sweep feature gives you the ability to archive all of your inbox messages older than 10 days. This will help you keep your inbox clean automatically.

  1. Open the account inbox where you'd like to archive email messages. Select the email you wish to archive, then select Sweep from the menu.

    Screenshot of selecting Sweep from menu
  2. In the pop-up screen, select Always move messages older than 10 days from the INBOX folder.

  3. Select the Move to drop-down menu and select Archive.

    Screenshot of moving old messages to archive in Outlook.com