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Start 2020 uncluttered and clean out your inbox. It’s like cleaning up your desk, you’ll feel better and you’ll focus better. Here’s six handy tips to clean out your inbox more quickly using built-in features of Outlook.

How To Sort Your Message View

Your Outlook inbox is normally sorted by the date email was received – and this makes sense for daily use. However when you’re trying to do a quick search and clean out sorting by different columns can make the job easier.

Simply click the top of any column and it will sort by that column. This is a super quick way to sort by who the email was from, by subject, or by size.

You’ll know which column is it sorting on by the pointer to the right of the column name. For example the screenshot above is sorted by Received. In fact it is sorted Descending since the arrow is pointing down. If you click the column again it will sort Ascending.

Give it a try!

How To Delete A Block of Emails

There’s a faster way to delete multiple emails than clicking each one and pressing delete.

Once you’ve sorted, click the first email you want to delete while holding down the Shift button. While still holding, click the last email you want to delete. All emails in between will also be highlighted. Here’s what it will look like:

Now you can release the Shift button and press delete.

Voila they are all gone!

How To Delete Selective Emails

You’ve sorted but you don’t want to delete all emails using the block method above? There’s another way.

Hold down the CTRL button and click each email you want to delete. Once the highlighted emails are selected you can release the CTRL button and press delete.

Remember your Sent and Deleted Folders

Too often we forget that Outlook also keeps a record of all the emails you sent. These are in the Sent folder.

What I usually do with the Sent folder is to go back maybe three months or six months and delete everything prior to that. Here’s how.

Make sure you are sorted by date. Scroll down and click the oldest email you want to keep. Now press CTRL-END and Outlook will highlight every message from the first one to the bottom of the list. One quick press of the Delete button and they are history!

Rinse and repeat with the Deleted folder.

How To Archive Your Emails

If you work in an industry where it is important to keep records then you may not be able to just delete what you no longer want.

However there is away in Outlook to remove these unwanted emails from your inbox – yet still have them available if you really need them: Archiving

Archiving can be set to automatically move emails from a certain date and older to the Archive folder, out of your other folders.

This is a whole separate process and you’ll want to plan a little before you do this. Here’s a good article about Outlook Archiving, here’s another.

One last thing – Compact

Now that you have taken the time to clean out your inbox you have one last step. Compact your Outlook file.

When using a POP or IMAP email system, Outlook will delete emails, but doesn’t actually clean out all the pointers in the PST file. This means even after you have cleaned out your inbox the size of your PST file is the same.

The solution is to compact this file. Go to your account settings and click the tab for Data Files. Double-Click the file associated with your email account and click the Compact Now button. Depending on how much you’ve deleted this may take a while, be patient.

(If you are using Office 365 or any Exchange based system then you don’t need to do this part)


Well done – you’re starting the year uncluttered!

Depending on the amount of emails you send and receive you may want to do this more than once a year. (I clean out my inbox every month or two)

Using the steps above, cleaning out your inbox doesn’t have to take a long time and the benefits are a streamlined Inbox and very often an Outlook program that is faster and more efficient.