AutoArchive feature in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003 Print

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Your Microsoft Outlook mailbox grows as items are created in the same way that papers pile up on your desk. In the paper-based world, you can occasionally shuffle through your documents and store those that are important but that are rarely used. You can discard documents that are less important, such as newspapers and magazines, based on their age. 


You can quickly complete the same process in Outlook 2007 and in Outlook 2003. You can manually transfer old items to a storage file by clicking Archive on the File menu, or you can have old items automatically transferred by using the AutoArchive feature. Items are considered old when they reach the age that you specify. With the AutoArchive feature, you can either delete or move old items. Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2003 can archive all kinds of items, but it can only locate files that are stored in an e-mail folder, such as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or a Microsoft Word document, that is attached to an e-mail message. A file that is not stored in an e-mail folder cannot be archived. 


The AutoArchive feature has a two-step process. First, you turn on the AutoArchive feature. Second, you set the properties for the AutoArchive feature for each folder that you want archived. 


At the folder level, you can determine the items that are to be archived and how frequently they are archived. You can automatically archive individual folders, or you can configure a default AutoArchive setting for all folders and then configure AutoArchive settings for individual folders that you do not want to use the default AutoArchive settings. The AutoArchive feature runs automatically whenever you start Outlook. Outlook checks the AutoArchive properties of each folder by date and moves old items to your archive file. Items that are moved to the Deleted Items folder are deleted. 


By default, several Outlook folders are set up with the AutoArchive feature turned on. The following is a list of the folders that have the AutoArchive feature turned on and of each folder's default aging period:

  • The Calendar folder (6 months)
  • The Tasks folder (6 months)
  • The Journal folder (6 months)
  • The Sent Items folder (2 months)
  • The Deleted Items folder (2 months)

The Inbox, the Notes, the Contacts, and the Drafts folders do not have the AutoArchive feature turned on automatically. You cannot use the AutoArchive feature with the Contacts folder, and the Contacts folder does not have an archive property.


The Difference Between Archiving and Exporting Items

When you archive items, you can only archive the items to a personal folders (.pst) file. When you export items, you can export the items to many different file types, including .pst files and delimited text files. Your existing folder structure is maintained in your new archive file. If there is a parent folder above the folder that you archived, the parent folder is created in the archive file, but the items that are in the parent folder are not archived. In this way, the same folder structure exists between the archive file and your mailbox. Folders are left in place after being archived, even if they are empty. You can only archive one file type, a .pst file. 

When you export items, the original items are copied to the export file, but they are not removed from the current folder.


How to Turn On the AutoArchive Feature

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Other tab.
  2. Click AutoArchive.
  3. Click to select the AutoArchive Every check box, and then specify how frequently the AutoArchive process will run by typing a number in the days box.
  4. If you want to be notified before the items are archived, click to select the Prompt Before AutoArchive check box.
  5. In the Default archive file box, type a file name for the archived items to be transferred to, or click Browse to select from a list.
  6. Click OK two times.
  7. Now that you have turned on the AutoArchive feature, you must set the AutoArchive properties for each folder.


How to Set the AutoArchive Properties for a Folder

  1. In the Folder List, right-click the folder that you want to AutoArchive, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the AutoArchive tab.
  3. To set the AutoArchive properties for this folder, click to select Clean out items older than.
  4. To specify when the items must be automatically transferred to your archive file, type a number in the Months box.
  5. To specify a file for the archived items to be transferred to, click Move old items to.
  6. In the Move old items to box, type a file name for the archived items, or click Browse to select from a list, and then click OK.



  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager

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