Using Outlook to Manage E-Mail

E-mail messages accumulate quickly in your Outlook Inbox. From a technical standpoint, this can cause problems. Storing lots of e-mail can slow mail slow down computer performance, or cause you to reach your server storage quota. When you approach that limit, you receive an automatic message warning that you must manage (delete or move) e-mail to reduce your Mailbox size. Otherwise, you will be unable to send messages.

The following tips help you reduce the amount of e-mail stored in your Mailbox and hence on the server.

Tips for Reducing E-mail

  1. Create Personal Folders – and Move E-mail to Them
    Personal Folders live on your computer, not the server. Thus, creating Personal Folders and moving e-mail to them from the Inbox allows you to free space on the server. In addition, it helps you organize e-mail by categories such as projects, sender/recipient, or dates. Using Personal Folders to manage e-mail must be done on a routine basis. If you don't already have any Personal Folders, thinking up useful categories or names for each folder and moving messages can take time, but the effort pays off in the long run. Also, having Personal Folders is key to being able to use other e-mail management techniques, such as rules.

    Note that messages stored in Personal Folders cannot be viewed via OWA since they actually reside on your computer.

    Watch this Microsoft tutorial learn how to use Personal Folders.

    How to Create personal Folders:
    • Right click on Personal Folders in the left-hand navigation pane.
    • Select "New folder."
    • Type in the name of your new folder in the empty field.
    • Click "OK."
    • The new folder will appear under Personal Folders.
    • Move messages from your mailbox to the Personal Folders.
  2. Empty Your Deleted Items Folder.
    When you delete a message, it is sent to the Deleted Items folder. You should regularly empty your Deleted Items. This is a fast way to free up server space.

    Setting Up Auto Delete
    • It is convenient to configure Outlook to empty the Deleted Items folder automatically each time Outlook is closed.
      • Go to Tools, Options, and Other.
      • Under General, select "Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting."

    Manually Emptying the Deleted Items Folder
    • Alternatively, you can manually empty the Deleted Items folder.
      • Right click on Deleted Items.
      • Select Empty "Deleted Items" Folder.
  3. Search for Large Messages – Delete Them or Move Them to Personal Folders
    Messages with attachments take up the most space, and large PowerPoint or Excel files can quickly fill up your space quota. At that point, an effective strategy is to search for the largest messages and then delete them, move them to a Personal Folder, or save the attachment to a file share or your computer (deleting the message and attachment). To search for large messages,
    • Go to Tools.
    • Select Mailbox Cleanup.
    • Select "Find items larger than."
    • Replace 250 with 5000.
      • Messages without attachments are between 1-100 in size
      • Any message over 1000 is considered large.
    • Select Find.
    • In the example above, Outlook will display a list of any over messages over 5000. If no messages are displayed, go back to Mailbox Cleanup and enter in 2500 or 1000.
    • To reduce your mailbox size, you can open the message and delete or move it.
  4. Establish Rules to Automatically Filter Certain E-mail Categories to Personal Folders
    You can direct certain messages to go directly to a Personal Folder upon receipt, so that they don't land in the Inbox. For example, if you regularly receive e-mail from a listserv, you can set up a rule to move any messages you receive from that listserv into a designated Personal Folder. It's easy to tell when there are new messages—the number of unread messages will appear in parentheses next to the folder name. To set a rule:
    • Go to Tools.
    • Select Rules and Alerts.
    • Select New Rule.
    • Generally you'll want to choose "Start creating a rule from a new template."
    • Step 1: Select "Move messages from someone to a folder."
    • Step 2: Click on each of the underlined values and specify who you’re creating a rule for and what folder you want it to go to. When you click on "People or Distribution List," you can either select someone from the GAL or Contacts, or type in an address in the From field at the bottom.
    • Click Next, and verify the settings.
    • Click Apply and OK.
  5. Filter Junk E-mail and Empty Your Junk Folder
    • When you notice spam in your Inbox, right click on the message, scroll down to Junk E-mail, and select Add Sender to Blocked Senders List. This will tell Outlook to automatically redirect any messages from this sender to the Junk E-mail folder.
    • Review your Junk e-mail folder daily to make sure no legitimate message has been sent there by mistake. Then empty the folder by right clicking on it and selecting Empty "Junk E-mail" Folder.