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Managing Your Mailbox Size in Outlook

Sorting through years of messages can be frustrating and a big waste of time. With mailbox quotas in the Exchange environment, cleaning up of messages and keeping a slim mailbox becomes a priority.

This article will offer advice on how to manage the size of your mailbox in Outlook.

Outlook cleanup tool

Outlook offers clean up assistance located under File> Cleanup Tools > Mailbox Cleanup. Some of the options are documented by Microsoft in their article on managing mailbox size.

The most useful options are:

  • View Mailbox Size will allow you to quickly locate which View or Folder has the largest size. Concentrate on cleaning up those folders first.
  • Find, can customize what you are looking for and remove unnecessary items right from the results view. Useful features include sortable columns, multiple selections, and other available actions by right-clicking on the selected messages.

Avoid large messages

The major culprit of space hogging in a mailbox are any messages you send with large files attached. Even if you do not save a copy in your Sent folder, large messages can propagate into other mailboxes. This increases the total amount of space used on the servers. Here are options for what you can do to minimize the space utilization in your mailbox.

  • Use OneDrive to share your documents. Avoid using email to send attachments as much as possible.
  • Upload a copy of the file to the Loop (or other web server you may have access to) and insert a link to the document in the email.
  • Avoid inserting images in the body of your email. Images, especially high-quality graphics can use up a ton of space.
  • Use the Outlook Rich-text editor to create formatted messages. Copy/pasting rich-text from other programs like MS-Word or Adobe, inserts extra coding unnecessary for viewing purposes.

These are just recommendations, it will be sometimes required to send larger messages. Being aware of alternatives is the first step in reducing your e-mail footprint.

Sent folder management

By default, Outlook saves a copy of every message you send, complete with attachments if any. This can quickly inflate your mailbox. A good practice is to save only what you may require in the future.

  1. For any non-critical message you write (including New Messages, Replies or Forwards), in the ribbon bar:
    • click Options
    • Click Save Sent Item to
    • Select Do Not Save.
    • Finish typing your message and Send normally.Web page snippet Outlook mailbox size

2. A faster way to access this Menu item is to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (above the Tabs).

  • Start a New Message
  • Click on Customize Quick Access Toolbar
    Web page snippet Outlook mailbox size

    • Click on More Commands
    • Change the drop-down to All Commands.Web page snippet Outlook mailbox size
    • Select Save Sent Item To
    • Click Add.
    • Click Ok.
    • A new icon will appear in your Quick Access Toolbar that immediately opens the Save Sent To pop up menu.

3. You can switch the behavior of Outlook to NOT save anything by default and then use the method above to override it when required. The very same action allows you to save to Sent (Default Folder) or a folder of your choice.

    • Select File
    • Select Options
    • Select Mail
    • Select Save Messages
    • Deselect Save forwarded messages and Save copies of messages.
    • Click Ok.Web page snippet Outlook mailbox size
    • Remember to manually use the Save Sent To option whenever you want to retain a copy of messages in your mailbox!

Is email the right choice?

Technology offers us an ever increasing variety of communication tools to support a business. Each has strengths and weaknesses but so do messaging systems like Outlook. Finding the right tool to communicate can be difficult sometimes but the research effort can be rewarding and boost your productivity. Minimally, consider these few alternatives:

  • Face to face: Walking over to a colleague can save you time, prevent misunderstandings, and it is also healthy!
  • Cisco Jabber: This Unified Communications tool has many features that help you communicate more effectively with peers such as:
    • Instant Messaging (Chat)
    • Presence Status
    • Voicemail integration
    • Outlook integration
    • Able to operate as your Voice or Video phone
  • Cisco Webex: Unified Communications tool supported at BCIT. This platform offers video conferencing, document and desktop sharing, and online meeting services.
  • Share: Other tools like the Loop and application platforms like Sharespace are readily available to everyone at BCIT to share ideas and information and work together.
  • Telephone: The telephone is still a critical tool and is sometimes underestimated. BCIT has deployed VoIP phones, which utilizes easy Directory Searches, Call logs, Conferencing, and more.

3rd party tools

There are dozens of add-ons for MS Outlook and many of them are designed to help you clean up your Folders. You need to be careful when installing these add-ons. Whether freeware or commercial software, many may be buggy or cause more harm than good. Overall, following the above recommendations should suffice to reduce your email footprint. IT Services doesn’t support any of these add-ons. Should you experience issues after installing them, disable them immediately. Here is an article on managing add-ons.

For any questions about this article or Outlook at BCIT, please contact the Technology Service Desk (604-412-7444 option 1).