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Outlook: Archiving Email

Emails in your account need to be retained for the retention period of the record series to which they belong. (For a refresher on how to tell which emails are subject to this, see the Email Management page.) You do NOT, however, have to keep them in your actual email account! Archiving your email (which in this context means saving them to another location) helps you stay under your inbox quota while making sure you have the email you need for retention or reference purposes.

There are several different ways to archive email, so this page is broken up into a number of sections. Click on the task you want to perform to go to that section. All email archiving tasks require use of the Outlook desktop client (go here to find out more.). Email with historical value should be exported in this way, then the export file should be sent to the archives.

I want to:

 Save individual emails to a folder



Highlight the email you want to save outside of your account and go to the blue File tab in the ribbon, highlighted above.



Select “Save As.” That’s it! You can save as a *.msg file (opens in Outlook, preserves connections to attachments) or as a plain text file if you’re only interested in retaining the content of the email itself.

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Export an entire folder to a CSV or PST file

If you have a large number of emails to save outside of your account, exporting entire folders may be an appropriate solution. This method is best for one-time email archive needs.


Go to the blue File tab in the ribbon, highlighted above.




From the File Menu, go to “Open & Export”, then select “Import/Export”.



Select “Export to a File” from the menu that pops up, then click “Next”.



Choose how to save your folder. Comma Separated Values can be read by any spreadsheet program and is a good option if you just want to preserve the text of emails and/or want to view them outside of Outlook. PST is an Outlook data file and is useful to preserve conversation chains, email formatting, and attachments. Then click “Next”.



Select the folder or folders you want to archive.If you do not have “Include Subfolders” checked, only the emails in the top-level selected folder will be exported. Then click “Next”.



Save your file somewhere you’ll remember, and with a descriptive name if possible. Clicking “Finish” will start the export to the format of your choice.

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Archive according to date

Archiving in Outlook is listed as a clean up tool, and allows you to export emails older than a specific date to a PST File.


From the file menu, select the “Cleanup Tools” button, then select “Archive” as highlighted above.



Select the folder or folders you wish to archive, and indicate the cutoff date for the archive process (e.g. the settings above will archive all emails in the ALI folder older than April 1, 2014). Select a location for your archive file to go and click OK.

You can also choose to manually activate AutoArchive settings for folders from this dialogue box (see below for information on setting these up).

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Set AutoArchive settings for an individual folder and default settings for account

AutoArchive does exactly what it sounds like– it automatically moves emails older than a certain date into your archive folder, with little or no prompting from you. The emails are no longer clogging up your inbox, but are available elsewhere when you need them.



Highlight the folder you want to archive and go to the “Folder” tab in the top ribbon. Click on “AutoArchive Settings”, highlighted above.



Specify an archive criteria. In the example above, when AutoArchive is run, items with a “Sent” date more than 3 months ago will be moved either to the default archive or to a specialized folder (this is useful when your folder has a longer retention period than other folders in your account.) Click “OK” to enable these settings for the next AutoArchive.



Choosing “Archive items in this folder using the default settings” will allow you to adjust those settings in the dialogue box above. Default behavior is to run AutoArchive every two weeks and to archive messages 6 months or older in the default PST file.

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