May 04, 2009, 5:24 PM — By far, the most common Outlook question we get at my company is how to free the application from the shackles of a full mailbox. If it has reached its max size, the ability to send e-mails is the first to go. For any corporate worker, that’s akin to not having a computer at all.
Often callers want help clearing enough space to send the e-mails that are waiting in the Outbox; they have no time to go over proper mailbox maintenance – deadlines are looming, meetings have started.
But with a tiny bit of set up and smattering of occasional maintenance, you will rarely, if ever, get another “mailbox full” warning. In the next few posts, I will cover the basics of keeping a tidy mailbox – using views, archiving and auto-archiving, and using rules to handle repetitive tasks.
Part 1, Room with a View:
The View menu is one of Outlook’s secret weapons. It allows you to arrange, filter and sort your mailbox contents every which way. You can view mail by size, date, flag status, attachment, and more. Also, Outlook has half a dozen built-in filters that make your mailbox more digestible.
View | Arrange By
Did you know that in addition to the actual mail messages you send, a copy of each file you attach also remains in the Sent folder? If you send (and receive, for that matter) PowerPoint presentations or image files on a regular basis, this can sap a substantial portion of your mailbox size.
For a quick fix, use the View | Arrange By | Size menu option to arrange whichever folder you are in by message size. If you have Show in Groups selected (very handy, also under View | Arrange By), you will be able to quickly identify the largest items. If you need to save particular messages but not the attachments (you likely already have those stored on your hard drive or on a network), you can strip the file from the message. To do so, open the mail, right-click on the attachment icon and choose “remove.” Close the mail and save it when prompted. No more space-hogging sidekicks.
If you need to save the mail and its attachment, create a folder in one of your PSTs and manually drag the largest files over. To create a new folder, right click on the PST, and then choose New Folder.
Other useful Arrange By items include: category, conversation, from, to, flag status and more. You can also choose custom fields (View | Arrange By | Custom).
View | Current View
This submenu takes mailbox-viewing one step further by filtering mail according to your criteria. For example, if you want to see only unread messages, go to View | Current View | Unread Messages in this Folder. You can select from a half-dozen filtered views or create your own using the Customize option.
Note: Current View uses filters to organize mail. Remember to clear the filter when you are finished, otherwise you may overlook important messages. Remove the filter by selecting View | Current View | Messages.
Next post: Exchange vs. PST, auto-archiving 101.