Organize Outlook emails by archiving them and clear your inbox

Is your email inbox full of emails demanding your attention? Is it so cluttered with messages that you can’t find an important one when you need it? Archive Outlook emails to clean up.

It is so easy for your inbox to become a confusing list of messages that you can hardly bear to face. Each morning there is another dozen or more messages freshly added to the inbox and if you don’t keep on top of them, you waste time and miss opportunities because you didn’t read a message or you read it and forgot to act on it.

How do you bring order to a chaotic inbox? One way is by organizing emails into folders and Outlook provides some ready-made folders like the Inbox, Sent Items, and Junk Email, but they are not sufficient. By using folders to store different types of emails, you can cut down on the clutter in the inbox and more easily find important messages when you need them. Messages are less likely to be overlooked and forgotten with a bit of organization.

One useful organizational feature in Outlook is the Archive feature. This is a folder, which is a place where you can store emails. It is up to you what messages you put in the Archive folder, but here are some suggestions:

  • Unimportant emails that you don’t want to delete, but don’t want cluttering the inbox
  • Emails you have dealt with in the inbox and don’t need to see again – the Inbox is your ‘to-do’ list and Archive is your ‘done’ list
  • Emails that require some action and are important in some way

There are probably other uses for the Archive and it is just a folder, but it is also a special folder because it is on many menus and buttons. Let’s take a look at how the Archive is used in Outlook.

Outlook is both a desktop application and an online webmail service and here I will be looking at webmail running in a browser. The Outlook app is similar though, so what you learn here can be applied offline.

Archive Outlook emails

Select an email in the inbox list and it can be moved to the Archive folder by clicking the Archive button in the menu bar or by clicking Move to and selecting Archive in the menu. Clear messages from the inbox to make it simpler and cleaner with less clutter.

Archive email messages in Outlook in a web browser

If you do not have an Archive folder, click New folder on the Move to menu and create it.

View archived emails

To see the emails messages that have been archived, just select the folder in the left panel. They are listed in the next column and selecting an email displays it in the preview pane.

View archived emails in Outlook in a browser

Emails can be dragged and dropped, so if you wanted to put an archived message back in the inbox, just click and drag it to the Inbox folder on the left. Messages can be dragged and dropped in other folders too.

Customise email actions

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of Outlook
  2. Click View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the panel
  3. Select Email on the left in the new window
  4. Select Customize actions
  5. Enable the Archive checkbox
  6. Click the Save button at the top
Customize the email actions in Outlook in a browser

Up to four actions can be added to the email inbox listing and you may find it useful to set one to Archive. You may need to deselect one of the others if four are already set before Archive can be added.

Archive an email in Outlook by using the quick actions button

When the mouse hovers over an email in the inbox, icons appear at the right hand side. Click the Archive icon to move it to the Archive folder.

The icon saves you having to move between email and Archive button at the top repeatedly and you can simply browse the inbox archive appropriate items.

Use Outlook Sweep to clean the inbox

Don’t you wish you had started archiving emails sooner? The box might have many messages that ought to be in the Archive folder and it would be tedious to have to go through hundreds or thousands of inbox messages manually archive them. Sweep them instead.

Use the Sweep feature in Outlook email to move messages from the inbox

Select an email in the inbox that you would like to move to the Archive folder. Click the Sweep button in the menu bar and there are several options. The first one moves all messages like this from the Inbox to wherever is specified next to Move to at the bottom. Select Archive and you can move all messages of this type to the Archive folder.

The other options enable you to move all future messages to the archive or all but the latest message, or those older than 10 days.

Using the Outlook Sweep tool you can clean up the inbox and move whole groups of messages to the Archive. Sweep the inbox clean.

Search and archive

Another way to clean the inbox is to perform a search. This can be for a specific sender or a keyword or phase. After performing a search, tick the checkbox at the top to select all messages, then click Archive.

Search for messages in Outlook email and move them to the Archive folder

If there are some search results you don’t want to archive, just deselect them before clicking Archive.

Don’t let the Archive folder become a dumping ground for everything because it will be no better than the Inbox. Use it for a specific type of email.