The tutorial explains how to archive emails in Outlook 365, Outlook 2021, 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, and other versions. You will learn how to configure each folder with its own auto archive settings or apply the same settings to all folders, how to archive in Outlook manually, and how to create archive folder if it doesn't appear automatically.
If your mailbox has grown too big in size, it stands to reason to archive old emails, tasks, notes and other items to keep your Outlook fast and clean. That's where the Outlook Archive feature comes in. It is available in all versions of Outlook 365, Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010 and earlier. And this tutorial will teach you how to archive emails and other items in different versions automatically or manually.
Outlook Archive (and AutoArchive) moves older email, task and calendar items to an archive folder, which is stored in another location on your hard drive. Technically, archiving transfers older items from the main .pst file into a separate archive.pst file that you can open from Outlook any time you need it. This way, it helps you reduce the size of your mailbox and get some free space back on your C:\ drive (if you choose to store the archive file somewhere else).
Depending on how you configure it, Outlook Archive can perform one of the following tasks:
To avoid confusion and to prevent questions like "Why doesn't my Outlook Auto Archive work?" and "Where are my archived emails in Outlook?" please remember the following simple facts.
Tip. Before archiving your Outlook items, it makes sense to merge duplicate contacts.
The Outlook Auto Archive feature can be configured to move old emails and other items to a designated archive folder automatically at a regular interval, or to delete old items without archiving. The detailed steps for different Outlook versions follow below.
Since Outlook 2010, Auto Archive is not enabled by default, though Microsoft Outlook will periodically remind you to do so:
To start archiving immediately, click Yes. To review and probably change the archive options, click AutoArchive Settings….
Or, you can click No to close the prompt, and configure auto archiving later at the time most convenient to you by performing the following steps.
The screenshot below shows the default settings, and the detailed info about each option can be found here.
When archiving is in progress, the status information is displayed in the status bar.
As soon as the archive process is completed, the Archives folder will appear in your Outlook automatically, provided you selected the option Show archive folder in the folder list. If you cannot find archived emails in your Outlook, please see How to display Outlook archive folder.
In Outlook 2007, auto archiving is turned on by default for the following folders:
For other folders, such as Inbox, Drafts, Notes and others, you can turn on the AutoArchive feature in this way:
And then, configure the AutoArchive settings as explained below.
As you already know, in Outlook 2010 and later, Auto Archive settings can be accessed via File > Options > Advanced > AutoArchive Settings… The detailed information about each option will help you take the process under your full control.
Microsoft states that this option is not checked by default, but it was checked on some of my Outlook installations. So be sure to uncheck this option if you want to keep expired messages until they reach the end of the aging period set for a given folder.
The default aging periods in all Outlook versions are as follows:
The default periods can be changed for each folder individually using the Mailbox Cleanup option.
Outlook determines the age of a particular item based on the following information:
If you want to archive items by received / completed date, please use these guidelines: How to archive emails by received date.
To prevent Outlook Auto Archive from running on a certain folder, or set a different schedule and options for that folder, perform the following steps.
Tip. You can use this method to automatically delete old emails from the Deleted Items and Junk E-mail folders. The detailed steps are here.
If you selected the Show archive folder in folder list option when configuring the Outlook Auto Archive settings, the Archives folder should appear in the Navigation pane automatically. If the above option was not selected, you can display the Outlook Archive folder in this way:
That's it! The Archive folder will show up in the list of folders straight away:
Once the Archive folder is there, you can find and open your archived items as usual. To search in Outlook archive, select the Archive folder in the Navigation Pane, and type your search text in the Instant Search box.
To remove the Archive folder from your list of folders, right click on it, and then click Close Archive. Don't worry, this will only remove the Archives folder from the Navigation pane, but won't delete the actual archive file. You will be able to restore your Outlook Archive folder any time you need it by performing the above steps.
To turn off the AutoArchive feature, open the AutoArchive Settings dialog, and uncheck the Run AutoArchive every N days box.
If you don't want any automatic archiving, you can archive emails and other items manually whenever you want. This way, you can have more control over which items to keep and which to move to the archive, where to store the archive file, and so on.
Please keep in mind that unlike Outlook AutoArchive, manual archiving is a one-time process, and you will need to repeat the below steps each time you want to move older items to archive.
If you want to archive all emails, calendars, and tasks, select the root folder in your Outlook mailbox, i.e. the one at the top of your folder list. By default, in Outlook 2010 and later versions, the root folder is displayed as your email address (I've renamed mine to Svetlana as shown in the screenshot below):
And then, configure a few more settings:
Finally, click OK, and Outlook will begin creating an archive immediately. As soon as the process is completed, the Archive folder will appear in your Outlook.
Tips and notes:
As you already know, Outlook archive is a type of Outlook Data File (.pst) file. The archive.pst file is automatically created the first time auto archive runs or when you archive emails manually.
The archive file location depends on the operating system installed on your computer. Unless you changed the default location when configuring the archive settings, you can find the archive file in one of the following places:
Note. Application Data and AppData are hidden folders. To display them, go to Control Panel > Folder Options, switch to the View tab, and select Show hidden files, folders, or drives under Hidden files and folders.
If you cannot find the archive .pst file in any of the above locations, chances are that you chose to store it in a different place when configuring the auto archive settings.
Here's a quick way to determine the exact location of your Outlook archive: right-click the Archive folder in the list of folders, and then click Open File Location. This will immediately open the folder where your archived .pst file is stored.
If you have created a few different archive files, you can view all the locations at a glance in this way:
In the first part of this tutorial, we have covered the Outlook Archive essentials. And now, it's time to learn a few techniques that go beyond the basics.
If for some reason you need to relocate your existing Outlook archive, simply moving the archived .pst file to a new folder will result in a new archive.pst file being created in the default location the next time your Outlook AutoArchive runs.
To move the Outlook archive properly, perform the following steps.
To disconnect the Outlook Archive folder, right click on the root Archive folder in the list of folders, and click Close Archive.
Tip. If the Archives folder does not appear in your list of folders, you can find its location via File > Account Settings > Account Settings > Data Files tab, select the archived .pst file, and click the Remove button. This will only disconnect the archive from your Outlook, but won't delete the archived .pst file.
Close Outlook, browse to the location of your archived .pst file, and copy it to the folder of your choosing. Once your Outlook archive is copied, you can delete the original file. Though, a safer way would be rename it to archive-old.pst and keep until you've made sure that the copied file is working.
To reconnect the archive file, open Outlook, click File > Open > Outlook Data File…, browse to the new location of your archive file, select the file and click OK to connect it. The Archives folder will immediately show up in your list of folders.
The last but not the least step is modifying the AutoArchive settings so that from now on Outlook will move old items to the new location of your archived .pst file. Otherwise, Outlook will create another archive.pst file in the original location.
To do this, click File > Options > Advanced > AutoArchive Settings…, make sure the Move old items to radio button is selected, click the Browse button and point it to where you moved your Outlook archive file.
To have delete old items from the Deleted Items and Junk E-mail folders automatically, set Outlook AutoArchive to run every few days, and then configure the following settings for the above folders:
Repeat the above steps for the Junk E-mails folder, and you are all set!
Note. Older items will be deleted from the Junk and Deleted items folders on the next AutoArchive run. For example, if you configured AutoArchive to run every 14 days, the folders will be cleaned out every 2 weeks. If you want to delete junk emails more often, set a smaller period for your Outlook Auto Archive.
The default settings of Outlook AutoArchive determine an item's age based on the received/competed or modified date, whichever is later. In other words, if after receiving an email message or marking a task complete, you make any changes to an item (e.g. import, export, edit, copy, mark as read or unread), the modified date is changed, and the item won't be move to the archive folder until another aging period is over.
If you want Outlook to disregard the modified date, you can configure it to archive items by the following dates:
Note. The solution requires making changes to the registry, so we recommend using it very carefully because serious problems may occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. As an extra precaution, be sure to back up the registry before modifying it. If you work in a corporate environment, you'd better have your admin do this for you, to be on the safe side.
For starters, check your Outlook version. If you are using Outlook 2010, be sure to install April 2011 hotfix for Outlook 2010, and Outlook 2007 users need to install the December 2010 hotfix for Outlook 2007. Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016 do not require any additional updates.
And now, follow the below steps to create the ArchiveIgnoreLastModifiedTime registry value:
For example, in Outlook 2013, it is:
If Outlook Archive or AutoArchive does not work as expected or you have problems with finding your archived emails in Outlook, the following troubleshooting tips can help you determine the source of the problem.
Most likely, you are using the Exchange Server mailbox, or your organization has a mail retention policy that overrides Outlook AutoArchive, e.g. it was disabled by your administrator as a Group Policy. If it is the case, please check the details with your system administrator.
If all of a sudden Outlook Auto Archive has stopped working, open the AutoArchive settings, and make sure the Run AutoArchive every N days checkbox is selected.
There are two frequent reasons for a certain item to be excluded from auto archive:
You can also add the Do Not AutoArchive field to your Outlook view to get an overview of items for which this option is selected.
If the Archives folder does not appear in the list of folders, open the AutoArchive settings, and verify that the Show archive folder in folder list option is selected. If the Archive folder still does not show up, open the Outlook Data File manually, as explained here.
When the archive.pst file is damaged, Outlook is not able to move any new items into it. In this case, close Outlook and use the Inbox Repair Tool (scanpst.exe) to repair your archived .pst file. If it does not work, the only solution is to create a new archive.
A full archive.pst or main .pst file can also prevent Outlook Archive from working.
If the archive.pst file has reached its limit, clean it up by deleting old items or create a new archive file.
If the main .pst file has reached its limit, try deleting some old items manually, or empty the Deleted Items folder, or move some items to your archive by hand, or have your administrator to temporarily increase the size of your mailbox, and then run AutoArchive or archive old items manually.
The default limit for .pst files is 20GB in Outlook 2007, and 50GB in later versions.
I hope this tutorial has shed some light on how to archive emails in Outlook. Anyway, I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!
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