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This page was last updated: 6/7/2007 12:18:24 PM

Large email folder (best way to clean up quickly)
The Large Mail Search Folder (best way to quickly delete large items from your Outlook message store)

You may be receiving an email message every night (like the one below) from "System Administrator" saying that your mailbox is over the size limit.

First, bear in mind that this automatically-generated message is not triggered by the number of messages in your email account, but instead by the size of your message database. Therefore, the best strategy for shrinking the size of your email database is to start deleting the largest items first!

Using Search Folders to locate large messages (this is the recommended first step)

The best way to do this is to use the Large Mail Search Folder in Outlook 2003 (This folder is a feature of Outlook 2003 and is not available in the Outlook Web Access client). The primary advantage of using this specialized search folder is that it looks through your entire message store (i.e. all of your folders, including Sent Items), as opposed to only showing you messages in your Inbox. Therefore, it quickly shows you the items that are having the biggest impact on your message store size.

One important concept to keep in mind: email messages themselves are not very large. It is the file attachment that can accompany email messages that are by far the biggest user of disk space. Messages with large file attachments are quickly identified using the Large Mail Search Folder.

To use this Search Folder, expand the Search Folders entry in the Navigation Pane (the folders in the left side of the Outlook Window), and then click the Large Mail Search Folder.

If the Large Mail Search Folder is not available, you can create it:

  1. In Mail, on the File menu, point to New, and then click Search Folder.
  2. Under Select a Search Folder, in the Organizing Mail section, click Large mail.
  3. By default, messages larger than 100 kilobytes (KB) will be included in this Search Folder. To change the limit, click Choose to specify a new number, and then click OK.

    Note: The size of messages includes attachments and the message text itself. A message with no attachments might be included in the Large Mail Search Folder because it contains embedded graphics or a large amount of text.

The new Search Folder is created in the Navigation Pane under Search Folders. You can rename the Search Folder by right-clicking the folder, and then clicking Rename.

Note: After deleting large items in Outlook, remember to empty the Deleted Items folder. You do this by right-clicking on the Deleted Items folder and selecting Empty "Deleted Items" Folder.

Tip: You can move any Search Folder to the Favorite Folders section at the top of the Navigation Pane by right-clicking the Search Folder, and then clicking Add to Favorite Folders.


Deleting Large Email Items from the Inbox folder only

You can identify large messages in your Inbox folder by sorting your messages by the Size column. That way you can easily spot and delete the largest items.

Your email is normally sorted by the date on which you received it. We want to temporarily sort it by size to make this task easier. To do this open Outlook and look for the size column (see figure below).

Click the on the word "Size". That will sort your mail by its file size. You must then move your slider (see figure below) up to go to the top of the list.

The items that appear at the top will be the largest. If you delete these items first it will make your task easier. To select more than one at a time for deletion hold down the control key and click on each item you wish to delete.

When you are through, click at the top of the received column (on the word Received).
Once again click the slider bar and drag it up. Your mail should now be sorted by the date received.

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