How to Streamline Conversations in Outlook

Use Outlook Conversation Clean Up to streamline your email inbox

What to Know

  • Go to Home tab. In Delete group, select Clean Up. Choose how much to clean up.
  • In the confirmation dialog box, select either Clean Up or Clean Up Folder.

This article explains how to use the Outlook Conversation Clean Up tool to remove quoted messages in your email replies and keep your inbox streamlined. Instructions apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Streamline Conversations in Outlook

Email programs quote the full original message automatically in replies. So, your email conversations may contain the same message several times: once in the original email and then quoted in each reply. To clean up conversations in Outlook and remove redundant messages:

  1. Go to the Home tab.

  2. In the Delete group, select Clean Up.

    Viewing clean up options in Outlook.
  3. Select how much to clean up:​

    • Clean Up Conversation: Remove messages that are fully quoted in other messages from the current conversation.
    • Clean Up Folder: Remove all redundant emails from the current folder.
    • Clean Up Folder & Subfolders: Remove fully quoted messages from the current folder and all folders beneath it in the folder hierarchy.
  4. In the confirmation dialog box, select either Clean Up or Clean Up Folder, depending on which clean up option you chose in step 3.

    Confirming the clean up selection to Deleted Items in Outlook.
  5. By default, the emails Outlook identifies as redundant go to the Deleted Items folder, but you can configure Outlook to move them to an archive or another folder.

Quickly Streamline a Conversation in Outlook by Keyboard Shortcut

To streamline the current conversation fast in Outlook:

  1. Select the conversation you want to clean up.

  2. Press Alt+Del.

  3. In the confirmation dialog box, select Clean Up.

    Confirmation of moving redundant emails in Outlook.

Configure Conversation Clean Up Options in Outlook

To pick the folder to which Outlook moves redundant messages when cleaning up and set other cleanup options:

  1. Go to the File tab and select Options.

    The File menu in Outlook.
  2. Go to the Mail category.

  3. In the Conversation Clean Up section, select Browse next to Cleaned-up items will go to this folder.

    Viewing conversation clean up options in Outlook.
  4. In the Select Folder dialog box, choose the folder where the redundant messages will be stored such as the Archive folder. Then select OK.

  5. Select other Conversation Clean Up options as desired:

    • When cleaning sub-folders, recreate the folder hierarchy in the destination folder: Archives items while preserving the folder structure. Select this option when using a cleanup destination folder other than Deleted Items.
    • Don't move unread messages: Keeps unread emails (even when these messages are fully quoted and redundant).
    • Don't move categorized messages: Keeps emails you labeled so that these messages show up in search folders.
    • Don't move flagged messages: Doesn't move or delete emails you flagged for follow-up.
    • Don't move digitally-signed messages: Keeps emails that are signed by the sender to verify their identity.
    • When a reply modifies a message, don't move the original: Keeps the full and unmodified text for each message. Emails quoted in full without modification are moved during cleanup.
    Viewing other conversation clean up options in Outlook.
  6. Select OK.

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