Staying Organized with Microsoft Outlook Using Archives

If you have been using Outlook for awhile and have not been archiving, then take a look over your shoulder. That’s that IT person getting ready to delete messages in your InBox because you have gone over the limit… again!

There is an automated way to set up your Outlook to reduce your InBox size, and at the same time, not lose any email messages.

The first step is to create local Archive folders. I chose to create a folder per year to keep track of old emails. You should also create the folders in My Documents so they will follow you when you upgrade systems. For example I have created yearly Archive folders in \my documents\outlook\200X archive.pst.

To create these folders, select Tools—Options—Other tab—Auto Archive. You should see the Window below:

Then hit the Browse… button to get to the Window below. Go to My Documents. Once there select the yellow folder button near the top right to create a new folder, in my case I created Outlook. Create several folders within Outlook, if needed.

The last step is to select the folder you just created as your default archive folder. In my case that would be 2006 Archive.pst. Then exit by selecting OK.

The next step is making these folders visible, so you can access them for searching. To do this you select File—Open—Outlook data file…

If this is the first time you are Archiving, then you may want to split up your InBox into multiple folders. To do this select your InBox, then select File—Archive from the main menu.

From here you can divide up your InBox. In my case, using years, I would repeat this step, entering 1/1/2003, then 1/1/2004 etc, in the Archive items older than: box and selecting the appropriate Archive folder using the Browse…button for each year.

The last pointer I wanted to give was that you can have different Archive properties for each folder in you InBox. Let’s say you had a folder that was daily reports and there was no need to keep these for 3 months. You decided to keep them for 2 months, or less. You can right-click on the folder, select Properties—AutoArchive and adjust the time as per below.

The only maintenance that is required going forward, it to create a new folder each year (or as often as you choose) and set the default to this folder using step 1.

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