How to archive your emails in Outlook

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How to archive your emails in Outlook

Not quite sure where the archive and auto-archive menu items are hidden? Here's how to do it in Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016 for Windows.

If you’re one of the thousands of Australians who use Outlook on Windows as your main office email client, you’re probably familiar with the perennial headache of an overflowing inbox.

When the problem raises its ugly head, someone will invariably suggest that you should probably archive your emails.

This is great advice in theory.

In practice, you will soon discover that Outlook’s email archive features are a datagraph like wild foxes in Tasmania – there’s no shortage of people who claim to have seen it once, yet no-one seems to know exactly where to find it.

Thankfully, help is at hand. Here are five simple tips to help you stay in control of your overflowing inbox:

1. Identify which version of Outlook you’re using

In its infinite wisdom, Microsoft has decided to rename features in different versions of Outlook, and in some cases place them in a different menu. And, of course, archiving emails is one of those features they’ve renamed and moved in different versions.

This means that the first step you need to take is to find out which version of Outlook you’re using.

You can do this out in one of two ways:

  • If the menu at the top has an option called ‘Help’ (it should be at the far right), click on it, and then ‘About Microsoft Office Outlook’.
  • If there’s no ‘Help’ menu at the top, then click ‘File’, then ‘Office Account’. There should be an option called ‘About Outlook’.

A window should then pop up which includes your version number. It might be Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013 or Office 2016. It’s helpful to write this version number down for future reference.

2. Manually archive a folder

Once you know which version of Outlook you have, it should be easy to track down where the archive feature is located in order to manually archive a folder:

  • In Outlook 2007, click on the mailbox or folder you want to archive. Then click ‘File’ and ‘Archive’. In the window that pops up, make sure the folder you want to archive is still selected. Towards the bottom of the window, you’ll notice the words ‘Archive File’, with a filename and a Browse button next to it. Click the Browse button and select the folder on your hard disk where you want to save your archive to and click ‘OK’. Then click ‘OK’ to start archiving.

  • In Outlook 2010 and 2013, click ‘File’, and then ‘Info’ on the left hand side of the window. There should be a button on the right called ‘Cleanup Tools’ that appears on the right. Click on it and another menu will appear. Click ‘Archive’. In the window that pops up, click on the email folder you want to archive. Towards the bottom of the window, you’ll notice the words ‘Archive File’, with a filename and a Browse button next to it. Click the Browse button and select the folder on your hard disk where you want to save your archive to and click ‘OK’. Then click ‘OK’ to start archiving.


  • In Outlook 2016, click ‘File’, and then ‘Info’ on the left hand side of the window. There should be a button on the right called ‘Tools’ that appears on the right. Click on it and another menu will appear. Click ‘Clean Up Old Items’. In the window that pops up, click on the email folder you want to archive. Towards the bottom of the window, you’ll notice the words ‘Archive File’, with a filename and a Browse button next to it. Click the Browse button and select the folder on your hard disk where you want to save your archive to and click ‘OK’. Then click ‘OK’ to start archiving.

3. A quicker way to manually archive a folder in Outlook 2016

If you’re using Outlook 2016, there is a quicker way to archive a folder. In the Home tab above your inbox, there should be a group of icons somewhere towards the left of the ribbon that looks like this:

Just select the folder you want to archive, then click on the archive button, and you should be set to go.

4. Automatically archive your inbox

Of course, it’s a pain to constantly have to manually archive your inbox. Here’s how to make Outlook automatically archive your emails:

  • In Outlook 2007, click ‘Tools’ then ‘Options’. In the window that pop ups, click on the ‘Other’ tab, and then the ‘AutoArchive’ button. A window will appear allowing you to set which folders you archive, and how often. Click to select the checkbox next to the words ‘AutoArchive every’, and then specify how frequently you want to archive your emails by typing a number in the days box. About half way down this window, you should see the words “Move old items to”, with a filename and a Browse button next to it. Click the Browse button and select the folder on your hard disk you want to save your archive to and click ‘OK’. Then click ‘OK’ to save your AutoArchive settings.

  • In Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016, click ‘File’, then ‘Options’, and a window should pop up. In the left-hand column, click on ‘Advanced’. Then, in the right-hand column, scroll down until you see a subheading called ‘AutoArchive’. Underneath this, there should be a button called ‘Auto Archive’. Click on it. A window will appear allowing you to set which folders you archive, and how often. Click to select the checkbox next to the words ‘AutoArchive every’, and then specify how frequently you want to archive your emails by typing a number in the days box. About half way down this window, you should see the words “Move old items to”, with a filename and a Browse button next to it. Click the Browse button and select the folder on your hard disk you want to save your archive to and click ‘OK’. Then click ‘OK’ to save your AutoArchive settings.

5. Back up your archive file

One final note for when you choose which folder to save your archive to. Make sure you select a folder that you regularly back up, or sync using DropBox, One Drive, Google Drive or similar tool.

This means if your computer crashes or another disaster occurs, you should still be able to recover your old emails.

Also, if you sync that folder to more than one computer, your email archives will be accessible no matter which machine you use.

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