Guide to Outlook Inbox Cleaning

Despised by many white-collar office workers, Microsoft Outlook isn’t the type of application people look forward to using. However, things don’t have to be this way, and, in this article, we explain how to clean Outlook so you can enjoy your Outlook mailbox in a way you’ve probably not thought possible.

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Microsoft Outlook Versus Windows Mail

Since Windows 8, Microsoft Outlook has competition in the form of Windows Mail, a simple email client with support for touch.

Before we go any further, we would like to explain that Windows Mail isn’t intended to replace Microsoft Outlook. Instead, it’s aimed at casual computer users whose email needs are fairly basic. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and it comes pre-installed with Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. It’s also very similar to Outlook.com, a web-based suite of webmail, contacts, tasks, and calendaring services from Microsoft.

Microsoft Outlook, on the other hand, is a personal information manager from Microsoft, available as a part of the Microsoft Office suite. It was first released in 1992, when it was called Outlook for MS-DOS. The Outlook you know today has very little in common with what Outlook was back then.

Modern Outlook includes a calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking, journal, and web browsing. It works as a stand-alone application or with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server for multiple users in an organization.

If your Outlook archive of emails is overflowing, switching to Windows Mail won’t help you. In the next section of this article, we explain how to archive emails in Outlook to get a step closer to Inbox Zero Outlook.

Help! My Outlook Is Overloaded

Microsoft forums are filled with messages posted by desperate Outlook users asking for help with their overloaded inboxes. Many of these users look for ways how to Outlook clean thousands of emails that have accumulated over the years and are now causing Outlook to run slow and be unresponsive.

It’s important to realize, however, that when Outlook displays the “Outlook inbox full” message, it means that a proper email management strategy hasn’t been in place. The cornerstone of any successful email management strategy must be regularity.

It’s not enough to archive inbox Outlook emails once every week or month. You should, ideally, aim for Inbox Zero, a completely clean inbox, and achieve it at the end of every day. Some people like to do their email when they eat breakfast, while others prefer to check it once every two hours or so.

Regardless of which frequency you ultimately settle on, don’t overdo it. By checking your Outlook inbox every few minutes, you would sooner or later open an important email when you don’t really have time to respond and risk forgetting out it.

How to Organize Outlook Inbox

Microsoft Outlook comes with a number of useful email management features, and you should learn how to use them to your advantage.

Outlook Focused Inbox

To help Outlook users deal with their messy inboxes, Microsoft enlisted the help of artificial intelligence and used it to develop the Outlook Focused Inbox feature. This feature proactively analyzes all incoming email messages to determine which are important and which can be safely ignored. It then places the important emails in the “Focused” tab and hides the rest in the “Other” tab.

So far, Microsoft has made this feature available to Office 365, Exchange, and Outlook.com users. The chances are that you already have Focused Inbox activated, but if you don’t you can follow the steps below and activate it manually.

Outlook Focused Inbox to organize emails

How to turn on Focused Inbox in Outlook.com:

  1. Go to your Outlook.com account.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Select the Settings icon and click on Focused Inbox.

You should now see both the Focused tab as well as the Other tab at the top of your inbox.

To turn off focused inbox in Outlook.com, simply click on the Focused Inbox option in the Settings menu again.

How to turn on Focused Inbox in Outlook for Windows:

  1. Open Outlook on your computer.
  2. Select the View tab.
  3. Click on the Show Focused Inbox option.

The Focused tab as well as the Other tab should appear at the top of your inbox.

To turn off Focused Inbox in Outlook for Windows, select the View tab and click on the Show Focused Inbox option again.

How to turn on Focused Inbox Outlook on the web:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Select the Settings icon at the top of the page and click on Focused Inbox.

When you look at the top of your inbox, you should see the Focused and Other tabs.

You can turn off Focused Inbox in Outlook for the web by selecting the Focused Inbox option from the Settings menu again.

Warning: With Focused Inbox active, it’s easy to miss emails flowing to the Other tab. Sometimes, the artificial intelligence algorithm used by Microsoft to determine the importance of email messages makes the wrong decision and sends an important email to the wrong tab. That’s why you should check the Other tab from time to time and mark all important emails that end up in it as such. When you do so, you teach the algorithm to make better decisions, improving the Focused Inbox experience for all Outlook users.

Outlook Email Folders

A good start is to separate emails into folders into their corresponding folders. This allows you to separate your email management into more manageable chunks that take just a few minutes each to organize.

How to create email folders in Outlook.com:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Click on the New folder button located on the bottom of the left panel.
  4. Enter the name of the folder in the blank text box.
  5. Hit the enter key on your keyboard to confirm.

How to create email folders in Outlook for Windows:

  1. Open Outlook on your computer.
  2. Move the mouse cursor above the left panel and right-click.
  3. Select the New Folder option.
  4. Enter the name of the folder in the Name box.
  5. Hit the enter key on your keyboard to confirm.

How to set up folders in Outlook in 2020

How to create email folders in Outlook for the web:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Right-click the folder in which you want to create a new folder (right-click the Inbox if you want to create a new folder there).
  4. Choose Create New Folder from the context menu.
  5. Enter the name of the folder in the Name box.
  6. Hit the enter key on your keyboard to confirm.

Outlook Email Filters

With Outlook email filters, you can automatically sort incoming emails to relevant folders using email filters, which are basically rules that tell Outlook what to do with emails that arrive in your inbox.

How to create email filters in Outlook.com:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Select the Settings icon and go to View all Outlook settings> Mail> Rules.
  4. Click on the Add new rule button.
  5. Configure the rule and press Save to create it.

How to create email filters in Outlook for Windows:

  1. Open Outlook on your computer.
  2. Open an email from any sender you want to filter.
  3. Click on the Rules button located in the Message tab and select Create Rule.
  4. Configure the rule.
  5. Select OK when you're done

How to filter emails in Outlook in 2020

How to create email filters in Outlook for the web:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Right-click on a message from any sender you want to filter.
  4. Select the Create rule option.
  5. Configure the rule and select OK when you're done.

Archiving Emails in Outlook

You should also learn how to archive in Outlook 2016 and other versions, which is a superior email management method compared with simply deleting old emails. When you archive an email, it leaves your inbox but doesn’t disappear completely. Instead, it goes to the Archive folder, and you can decide to leave it there, retrieve it, or delete it.

How to archive emails in Outlook.com:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Open any email you want to archive.
  4. Select the Archive option from the toolbar at the top of the page.

How to archive in Outlook

How to archive emails in Outlook for Windows:

  1. Open Outlook on your computer.
  2. Select one or more messages in your Inbox or another folder to archive.
  3. Choose Archive in the Delete group.

You can also use the Backspace key to immediately archive one or more selected messages.

How to archive emails in Outlook for the web:

  1. Open Outlook on the web.
  2. Log in with your username and password if prompted to.
  3. Open any email you want to archive.
  4. Select the Archive option from the toolbar at the top of the page.

Outlook Cleanup Tools

Alternatively, you can go to File and Info and click on the Cleanup Tools option next to Mailbox Cleanup and select Archive. Outlook will then let you select which folder you would like to archive and create a .pst file with the content of the selected folder and all of its subfolders. Sometimes, even Outlook’s powerful email management features aren’t enough to clean up a neglected Outlook inbox, which is where email cleaning tools such as Clean Email come in handy. In the next section, we introduce Clean Email as the best email cleaner for Outlook and describe how you can use it to organize thousands of emails in a few minutes.

How to Clean Up Outlook Inbox with Clean Email

Clean Email represents a convenient way how to clean up any overloaded Outlook inbox with a few simple clicks.

  1. Sign up for Clean Email and connect your Outlook inbox.
  2. Let Clean Email automatically sort your emails into easy-to-organize bundles.
  3. You can then instruct Clean Email to apply various actions to the bundles, including archive, delete, or move.

How to clean up Outlook with Clean Email app

Clean Email comes with automatic inbox cleaning capabilities, allowing you to apply certain actions automatically to emails as soon as they arrive to your inbox. For example, you can mark certain emails as read so that you know that you can skip them without missing anything important, or you can group all important emails together for greater visibility.

Clean Email’s automatic inbox cleaning capabilities are as easy to use as they are useful. Whereas many other similar applications have a steep learning curve, Clean Email is simple enough even for computer neophytes yet so powerful that many consider it to be a complete game-changer.

Since you can try Clean Email for free without any major limitations, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

Conclusion

Microsoft Outlook offers a selection of powerful email organization features, but even they are often not enough to help users achieve Zero Inbox. When built-in email management tools fail, Clean Email comes to rescue. With it, you can quickly and easily clean up your Outlook mailbox and ensure that it will never become so full as to make Outlook unusable.

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Clean Email is built to work from any device and for all email clients, with additional functionalities and support added on a regular basis as new services emerge and new devices become available. One Clean Email subscription covers your mailbox across ALL your devices!

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