Mailbox Cleanup

Delete What You Don’t Need

The first rule of good mailbox management is to regularly delete messages that we don’t need to keep.  Make a habit of cleaning out your mailbox on a regular basis, such as once a week or once a month.

A great way to make cleaning a lot easier is to sort your email by Sender, by Subject, or by Size instead of by Date.  This enables you to see a number of similar e-mails all in a row and quickly determine if they stay or if they go.  To change the way your mail is sorted in Outlook 2003, click View and then Arrange by… and then select an item from the popup menu. Or, right-click on the Arranged by text at the top of message list to change the sort order.

Once you’ve cleaned your Inbox, it is also extremely important to empty your Deleted Items folder and clean out your Sent Items folder.  It is possible that your Sent Items folder holds every message you’ve ever sent—and may be quite large.  This cleaning process becomes even more important if you send or receive a lot of attachments. Attachments can can fill your mailbox faster than anything, and may be better saved in a directory on your computer as opposed to leaving them in your mailbox.

  • A single e-mail with a 1 MB attachment takes up as much space as 200 e-mails without attachments.
  • If you forward the e-mail with the attachment, a copy also goes into your Sent Items folder, which doubles the space used in your mailbox.

Find Your Biggest Stuff

The easiest way to find all those large attachments lurking in the labyrinth of folders in your mailbox is to use the Mailbox Cleanup tool.

  • Click on Tools and then click Mailbox Cleanup
  • In the dialog box, select Find items larger than 250 KB, and then click Find.

The system will generate a list of every message in your mailbox with a file size over 250 KB (an e-mail message without an attachment is typically less than 5 KB). Click on the “Size” column to sort the list from the largest to smallest messages.  Then, click on the message to view.  It is likely that many of the messages may be deleted.  Or, save the attachments on your computer and then delete the message.