Archiving Emails with Outlook – Here's How it Works

Maintain an overview – even in your emails! Do you manage your email folders, calendars, and contacts with Microsoft Outlook? Then use Outlook archiving to archive old Outlook items such as messages, tasks, notes, or calendar entries in external archive files. This streamlines your email program – which is essential to keep Outlook running smoothly.

The program has two functions for archiving Outlook items:

  • Outlook AutoArchive
  • Manual archiving Outlook items

We’ll show you how this works in our step-by-step guide with helpful screenshots.

What are Archived Outlook Files?

Archived Outlook files are messages, drafts, tasks, notes, or calendar information that have passed a freely chosen aging period; they are moved from the email program to an external PST file (short for: Personal Store).


The PST files stored on your local hard disk can be opened at any time with your email program, if required, to display archived Outlook items.

Outlook AutoArchive

As an alternative to manually configuring Outlook archive settings, you can use the AutoArchive feature of the email program.

AutoArchive is enabled by default for some Outlook folders. Outlook items that exceed the predefined age are automatically moved to a PST file. Outlook’s default setting creates the PST file at the following location:

C:\Users\ \AppData\Local\MicrosoftOutlook

The following table shows all folders where Outlook AutoArchive is usually activated automatically, as well as the respective standard aging period.

Inbox and Drafts 6 months
Outbox 3 months
Calendar 6 months
Tasks 6 months
Journal 6 months
Sent items 2 months
Deleted items 2 months
Notes 6 months

If you don’t want to use AutoArchive, take the following steps to disable the feature:

Step 1: Open Outlook and go to the “File” tab.

Step 2: In the left sidebar, select the menu item “Options”. Outlook Options opens in a new window.

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Step 3: Navigate to the “Advanced” section and under AutoArchive, click the “AutoArchive Settings” button.

Outlook opens the “AutoArchive” window.

Step 4: Disable the “Run AutoArchive every x days” option to disable Outlook AutoArchive.

Alternatively, you can customise the default settings for Outlook AutoArchive to your individual preferences.

  • Define the interval at which AutoArchive should be performed.
  • Adjust the default period for Outlook items.
  • Determine whether old Outlook items are archived or permanently deleted after the aging period.

Manually Archiving Outlook Folders

If you want to selectively archive specific folders in your mailbox, it’s recommended that you select them manually and save them as a PST file to a storage location of your choice.

The following steps show you how to manually archive emails and other Outlook items:

Step 1: Open Outlook and go to the “File” tab.

Step 2: In the left sidebar, select the menu item “Info”.

Step 3: Click on the “Cleanup Tools” button and select “Archive” from the drop-down menu.

Outlook opens the “Archive” window.


If you use Microsoft in combination with an Exchange server and your organisation uses the online archive for Microsoft Exchange, the “Archive” feature may not be available to you in your Outlook desktop app. The same applies if the feature has been disabled by your Exchange server’s administrator.

Step 4: Choose one of two options:

  • Archive all folders according to your AutoArchive settings
  • Archive a selected folder and all its subfolders

Step 5: Enter a date next to “Archive items older than”. Any Outlook items that you have created, sent, or received before this date will be archived.

By default, Outlook stores PST files in the “Outlook Files” folder under “Documents”. If necessary, amend the storage directory by clicking the “Browse...” button.

If you also wish to include elements in the archive for which the option “No AutoArchive” is activated, place a checkmark in the corresponding box.

Step 6: Complete the configuration by clicking on “OK”.


Manual Outlook archiving will only be performed once with the settings you have entered. If you would like to archive selected folders regularly, we recommend that you configure Outlook AutoArchive accordingly.

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