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There comes a time to do a little spring cleaning, and for Outlook, that means getting rid of our old deleted messages. Remember that when you press Delete, it only moves it to the Deleted Items folder. By getting rid of old messages, we can reduce the amount of space Outlook consumes, speed up our searches, and keep our network administrators happy. Outlook gives us a few ways to do this. The first is simply by emptying the trash. By clicking the File tab, we can go Backstage where the Cleanup Tools button appears. I can choose Empty deleted items folder. Be careful though; when you choose this it will permanently delete every item in the Deleted Items folder regardless if you deleted it a year ago or yesterday.
So since clearing out the entire Deleted Items folder might be a little extreme, a more selective approach might be better. From the same menu, I can choose Mailbox Cleanup. Here I can specify criteria, such as age or size, and delete only those messages that are too old or too big; for example, let's specify messages that are older than 30 days. Clicking Find shows me the results, scanning the entire mailbox.
This means that it's going to show you e-mails that are older than 30 days if they're in your Deleted Items folder or any other folder. You might want to narrow this down to just those folders that you're trying to delete from. I'll click Browse and say just Deleted Items, clearing the entire mailbox. When I hit OK and choose to find again, only messages from my Deleted Items appear that are older than 30 days.
Here I can review those messages and optionally choose to right-click on any and move them to another folder if I want to. The ones that remain, I'm going to delete. I'll hit Ctrl+A to select all and then press Delete to permanently delete these messages. Since they're in Deleted Items, there is nowhere else for them to go. Once deleted here, they're permanently removed. Before doing this the first time, you might want to just double-check with someone from your IT department or help desk just to make sure you're doing the right thing. Next, let's check out a way to free up some of our time by putting Outlook to work for us.
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