How to Archive Emails in a Microsoft Outlook Inbox

If you don’t have enough space to accommodate new mails, you’d probably end up missing out on some important information. Falling short on free space can also lead to other problems like your Microsoft Outlook account running very slowly.

Besides, your email functionalities like sending and receiving emails can become somewhat funny. If that’s the case, then you should try checking out the size of your Outlook inbox and you might be shocked to realize how full it is.

Most emailing service providers give you a lot of storage space, but your mails can get accumulated over time, hence bloating your account. In this situation, archiving certain folders can be very helpful to free up space. 

Archiving your emails is a procedure of moving the mails in your inbox from your e-mail server to some archive folder on your local computer. This frees up space and is extremely important for all those Outlook users who have received notifications asking them to free up space because of having exceeded their email storage quota.

Microsoft Outlook comes with an archiving feature that can archive your emails, notes, and even calendar reminders in an external folder. This will smoothen your email functionalities, essentially smoothening your Outlook.

So, the Outlook archive program can run in two ways:

  • Outlook AutoArchive: This will automatically archive emails as per a stipulated schedule that will be specified by you.
  • Manual Archive: Manually archiving your emails will allow you to archive emails anytime and archive only some specific folders and subfolders. Moreover, it also lets you override the AutoArchive settings.

You can choose either of these as per your preferences, and this blog will show you how to do the same with step-by-step instructions.

Archive emails in a microsoft outlook Inbox

What are Archived Outlook Files?

Archived Outlook files or folders are those emails, notes, tasks, or other information that upon exceeding a certain age or period get moved from your Outlook inbox to an external file (a .pst file). PST files are short for Personal Store files and are stored on your local hard disk. You can open them any time via your email to check out the archived Outlook content.

Auto Archiving Outlook Folders

Rather than manually configuring your Outlook archive settings, you can also utilize the AutoArchive feature. Also, this feature might be enabled by default for a couple of Outlook folders. The items in Outlook that would exceed a specific age get automatically shifted or archived to a PST file. 

Besides, the default setting makes the PST file at the location given below:


The given table has all the folders for which Outlook AutoArchive is activated by default along with their standard aging period:

FolderAging Period (in months)
Inbox content and draft mails6
Calendar entries6
Sent mails2
Deleted mails2

How to Archive Emails in Outlook 2007 and 2016?

Given below are the steps to enable archive for your Outlook 2007 and 2016:

Archiving Folders on Outlook 2016:

Step 1: Click on the ‘File’ menu in your Outlook and then go to ‘Info’ -> ‘Cleanup Tools’ -> ‘Clean up old times’

MS Outlook Inbox
Select Clean Up Old Items

Step 2: Select “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option. Click on the folders to be archived.

Select “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option. Click on the folders to be archived.

Step 3: Now, type in a date under the option “Archive items older than”

Now, type in a date under the option “Archive items older than”

Step 4: Check the box beside “Include items with Do not AutoArchive checked” if you don’t want to auto-archive them.

Step 5: Choose the location where you want to save the archived data and click “OK”

Archiving Folders on Outlook 2007:

Step 1: Go to the “File” menu and click on “Archive”

Step 2: Click on the radio button next to the “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option and write a date under “Archive items older than.”

Click on the radio button next to the “Archive this folder and all subfolders” option and write a date under “Archive items older than.”

Step 3: Click on “Browse” under the “Archive file”  option. And denote a new location, file, or folder if you don’t wish to use the default location.

Step 4: Click on the checkbox next to “Include items with Do not AutoArchive checked”. You can do this to override settings of folders that won’t be automatically archived. 

Step 5: Finally, click “OK”

How to Disable Outlook Mailbox Cleanup?

You might be concerned about losing certain old items due to the AutoArchive setting that automatically deletes older items and transfers some into an archive folder. So, you can prevent that from happening by disabling the cleanup feature for either all folders or just a couple of folders. Here’s how:

Disabling Auto Cleanup for a single folder:

Step 1: Open your Outlook account and right-click on the folder that you don’t want to auto-archive.

Step 2. Select “Properties” from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Now, click on “Do Not Archive Items in This Folder” and then on “Apply.”

Step 4: To close the pop-up window, click “OK.”

Disabling Auto Cleanup settings for all folders:

If you don’t wish to use the AutoArchive feature for any folder, then follow the steps given below to disable it:

Step 1: Open Outlook on your computer and visit the “File” tab

Step 2: Go to the left sidebar and click on “Options.” A new window will open up.

Step 3: Visit the “Advanced” section and click on the “AutoArchive Settings” option under the AutoArchive header.

Step 4: Uncheck “Run AutoArchive every x days” to disable the AutoArchive feature.

Uncheck “Run AutoArchive every x days” to disable the AutoArchive feature.

Else, you could simply customize the default settings for AutoArchive as per your preferences. You can adjust the default period for the  Outlook AutoArchive items. Also, you can set if you want the old Outlook items to be archived or deleted permanently once the aging period is over.

How to Manually Archive Outlook Folders?

If you don’t want to archive everything in your mailbox, you can manually select the ones you want to archive. Here are the steps for archiving your Outlook Folders manually:

Step 1: Choose a folder and create a new archive folder or .pst file

You need a local folder or a .pst folder that will serve as a place to hold all the archived emails and data from your inbox. To do the same, first right-click on “On My Computer” from your folder list and then, click on “New Folder.” Lastly, name it something like “Archived emails” so that you can recognize what it’s for later.

Step 2: Set the Autoarchive Settings

Go to “Tools” and then click on “Rules”. Click on “Exchange” from your “On My Computer” section and select the “+” sign towards the bottom of the window. 

Step 3: Set the period for the mails you want to archive

Go to the “When a new message arrives” menu and click on “Date Received.” Change it to the recommended duration of 120 to 180 days. Then, move to the “Do the Following” section and change it to “Move Message + Archived Mail.”

Click on “Enabled” and then on “OK.” In certain older versions of Microsoft Outlook, you might need different steps which are as follows: Tools -> Options -> Other -> Auto Archive.

Step 4: Apply the new archiving rule on the e-mail folders to archive

Select the email folder that you wish to archive and click on “Messages” followed by “Rules” and set the AutoArchive feature to 180 days (recommended). Perform the same on every mail folder whose data you wish to archive and then wait until your Outlook mailbox is reorganized.

Step 5: Accessing your Archived Mails

Just navigate to the left-hand column of folders or go to the list of .pst files that you have on your computer along with all your other mail folders. 

Final Thoughts

Certain Microsoft exchange servers might not allow you to archive items due to the organization’s mail retention stipulations. So, you should understand the company’s policies otherwise, you might have violated rules unintentionally or risk losing data.

And that was all from our side about archiving emails on Microsoft Outlook. We hope you got your doubts clarified and were able to archive your Outlook emails as per your requirements.

Can I use the same method to archive text messages in my email as I would for emails in Outlook?

Yes, you can forward text messages from your phone to your email just like you would with emails in Outlook. This method allows you to keep a record of important text messages and access them easily in your email. Simply use the “forward text messages email” option on your phone to send them to your email account.

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