How messy is your inbox? Is it stuffed full of messages about projects long finished and donuts in the break room long ago eaten? And you don’t do anything about it until you get a message saying you’re over your limit and you won’t be able to send messages until you clean things up?

You’re normal, but you can change. Outlook offers several features that help you tidy up with minimal effort.

View | Arrange By

The View menu is one of Outlook’s most powerful tools. It allows you to arrange, filter and sort your mailbox contents every which way. You can view mail by size, date, flag status, attachment, and more. Also, Outlook has half a dozen built-in filters that make it easy to identify the stuff you no longer need. The View menu is the next best thing to processing messages as they come in.

It you need to clean up fast because you’re over your limit, focus on your attachments. If you send PowerPoint files back and forth through e-mail it can eat up your limit fast. Use the View | Arrange By | Size menu option to organize the messages from biggest to smallest.

If you can get rid of the entire message, do that, of course. If you need the message, but not the attachment, you can delete just the attachment. (The attachment is what hogs all the space anyway.) Here’s how: Open the message, right-click on the attachment icon and choose “remove.” Close the message and save it when asked.

Other useful Arrange By items include: category, conversation, from, to, flag status and more. You can also choose custom fields (View | Arrange By | Custom). Use these fields to seek and destroy messages about old products and now-stale baked goods.

View | Current View

This submenu gives you even more options to organize your inbox. For example, with just a few clicks, you can see all of your unread messages. Here’s a tip: if the message is several months old and you haven’t bothered to open it, it can probably go.

In addition to the Unread Messages filter, you have a half-dozen other filters that you may find useful. You can also create your own filter with the Customize option.

What’s hiding in your Sent Items?

Did you know that in addition to the actual mail messages you send, a copy of each file you attach also remains in the Sent folder? If you send (and receive, for that matter) PowerPoint presentations or image files on a regular basis, this can zap up a lot of your space allotment.

Avoid this problem next time

Once your account-limit crisis is averted, think about how you can avoid this problem next time. Try to get to a point where you’re handling each message only once. If you don’t need it, delete it so that you don’t have to find it and delete it later. If it contains information you need, move it to SharePoint or OneNote. And remove attachments in your sent items – or remove the entire sent item if you don’t need it.

 

Suzanne