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How to clean out your Outlook email

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How to clean
out your
Outlook email
Illustrated by your friendly MIS Department
What some users do not know about email is that when you delete an email from your
inbox, it isn’t truly deleted. And after a few months to a few years of email messages that
are never truly deleted, can slowdown and even stop your email experience. I have seen
mailboxes with thousands of messages in them, dating back to before the year 2000.
Think of your mailbox for a second. Think of your deleted items folder (where deleted
messages in outlook are stored) as a trash can. Now, when you throw something in the
trash it stays there forever, until someone takes out the trash. Outlook doesn’t take out the
trash for you, you must empty it every once and a while.
One may ask why does outlook do this? Well, have you ever thrown something out and
had to go trashcan, or even dumpster diving to retrieve whatever you were looking for?
So yeah, its there for a precaution, just in case you delete something you needed.
The purpose of this instructional manual is to teach users how to empty out their
mailboxes, and clean things up a bit.
*NOTE* - I would recommend emptying out your Sent Items and Deleted Items at least
once a year.
First off, start by loading Microsoft Outlook by double clicking on the Outlook icon
on the desktop.
Before I teach you how to delete emails and stuff, I am going to teach you how to save an
email message to you’re My Documents folder on the desktop, as there have been several
requests how to do so. And to be honest, it’s SUPER easy.
First off, position the Outlook window so that you are able to see your Inbox and the “My
icon on the desktop, similar to the image above.
Now, LEFT click and HOLD on an email that you want to save to you’re My Documents
Now, move the mouse cursor, while still holding down the left click button, and drag the
mouse over to the My Documents icon on the desktop. You’ll notice that the mouse
cursor now looks like , and the My Documents icon will be colored, like
Release the left mouse button and it saves a copy of that email message that you selected
to your My Documents folder.
This file (has the icon ) can be save to a floppy disk, burned to a CD, or emailed to
other people. If you double click on it, you can read it and view its attachments. This file
is a completely independent copy of the original email in your inbox.
Now we are going to show you how to delete your sent items. What sent items are is
every time you send out an email to someone, it saves a copy of the email message for
your records.
To get to your sent items folder, click on the “My Shortcuts”
side in Outlook.
button on the left
Click on the “Sent Items”
You will now see all the emails that you have sent out. Focus your attention to the bottom
left. For me, it says that I have sent out 241 emails since I last cleaned out this folder.
This may not seem like a lot, but after a few years of never cleaning out this folder, it can
become congested with many, many emails.
Also, if you look near the right side of Outlook, you will see a date and time when the
email was sent. Through this you can delete either the entire record of email you have
sent out, or all emails before a certain date. Both processes are similar.
*NOTE* - Make sure that your messages are sorted by date sent. You can check this by
looking at the “Sent” column and making sure it looks like:
, and NOT like
To select emails before a certain date that you want to delete, select the email that you
want to start with. Left click on that email, press and HOLD down the “SHIFT” key on
the keyboard, and while holding it down, I press the “END” key on the keyboard. This
will select all emails that I have sent out before June 1st.
Or, if you wanted to select all the messages in this folder, all you have to do is press and
hold the “CTRL” button on the keyboard, and while holding it, press “A” on the
Now you have the emails selected that you don’t want anymore (I have ones selected
before a certain date, but you might have them all selected). In order to delete them, you
can either press the “DELETE” button on the keyboard, or press the “delete” button in
The next step to cleaning out your inbox is to empty out the deleted items folder. You can
get to this folder by clicking on the “Outlook Shortcuts”
button (n) on the left
side of Outlook. Once you see the Outlook Shortcuts panel (o), you might have to scroll
down by pressing the down arrow
(p), press the “Deleted Items”
This is your Deleted Items folder. Everything that you have deleted gets store here until
literally, someone takes out the trash (empties out the Deleted Items). You’ll notice at the
bottom left how many items you have stored in the Deleted Items folder (I happen to
have 102). To permanently delete every single item that has ever been put in here, just
right click the Deleted items icon
the menu that appears.
, and select “Empty “Deleted Items” Folder” from
There will be
a popup
message that
comes up that
asks you if
you are sure
that you want
to permanently delete all the items in the Deleted Items folder. Click “Yes” if you are
sure. This CANNOT be undone once you click “Yes”.
*NOTE* - You can also delete emails received before a certain date. You can do this by
going back a few pages and following the steps for clearing out the “Sent Items” folder.
The only change that would need to be done is making sure you are in the “Deleted
Items” folder, and not the “Sent Items” folder.
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