Often I get a calls from clients complaining that Microsoft Outlook is just too slow – what can they do to speed it up? Here is the list of questions I usually ask upon hearing this question:
- How many emails are in your Inbox? (so far the record is 16,000)
- Have you emptied your Deleted Items folder lately?
- Have you checked your Junk E-mail Folder lately?
- When was the last time you archived?
- What is the overall size of your Mailbox?
Out of all these questions, #5 is the kicker because it will be affected by #1-#4. Here is how to tell what the overall size of your Mailbox is:
- Right click on either your Mailbox or Personal Folders (depending on whether or not you are on Exchange server) and then select Properties from the Pop up menu
- In the Properties window, click the Folder Size button in the bottom left hand area of the General tab
- The folder size window will pop up, but it may take a few minutes to finish calculating the size of your mailbox depending on how large it is. The value you want to look for is “Total size (including sub-folders)” which should be listed in KB.
The number you are looking for is something less than 300,000 KB. Don’t worry if your number is way over that – I have one client who was over 4,000,000 KB and we were able to get him sorted out without too much pain. My initial question list is a great place to start if you find yourself in the large end of the mailbox size range. Here is a list of things you can do to get the size of your mailbox down and your Outlook processing speed up:
- Empty your Deleted Items folder – If you don’t have Outlook set to automatically empty your Deleted Items folder, you have to do it manually by right clicking on the folder in your Outlook folder list and selecting Empty “Deleted Items” Folder from the pop up menu. You can configure Outlook to automatically empty your Deleted Items folder each time you exit Outlook by selecting Tools/Options on the Outlook menu bar and then checking off the “Empty the Deleted Items folder upon exiting” check box on the Other tab of the Options window.
- Cleaning out your Junk Email folder – You should get in the habit of checking your Junk Email folder every once in a while to make sure no good emails are landing there. If you do find emails in the Junk Email folder that are not junk, right click on those emails and select “Add Sender to Sender Safe List” from the Junk Email sub menu of the pop up menu. The rest you should clean out, by right clicking on the Junk Email folder and selecting Empty “Junk Email” Folder. This will place the emails in the Deleted Items folder so you will still need to empty that folder before you will see a change in the overall size of your Mailbox.
- Cleaning items out of your Inbox – Do you really need all those emails? Can some of them be deleted? Emails with attachments are a great place to start. Attachments can some times be very large – especially if they include graphics. Although email is a great way to send files, Outlook is really not meant to be a document filing system. Right click on attachment icons in your emails and select Save As from the pop up menu to save them out in your filing system where they belong. You can then delete the email they were sent in if it does not contain other pertinant information. There are a lot of great Outlook add-ins available that will remove attachments from emails without deleting the email text if you want to keep a record of the email being sent or received – check out the Attachment Save add-in by Sperry Software which removes attachments from emails and replaces them with URLs that take you to the attachment out in your file system.
- Don’t forget your Sent Items folder – Some of the largest items bogging down your Outlook mailbox reside in your Sent Items folder – can you eliminate some of them? The easiest way to find the large offenders in your mailbox is to go to the Large Mail sub folder in your Search Folders. Search Folders can be found in your Outlook folder list – if the Large Mail sub folder is not visible as a sub folder to Search Folders, then right click on the Search Folders folder and select New Search Folder from the pop up menu. The New Search Folder window will open – you can scroll down the folder list to Large Mail which is listed under the Organizing Mail sub heading then click the OK button. In the Large Mail folder you can see which emails are the largest residing in your mailbox and what folder they reside in.
- Archiving – Even is you are religious about performing steps 1-3, you are going to amass a large number of emails over time. The only way to keep your Mailbox manageable over time is to Archive on a regular basis – by default Outlook will prompt you to archive every 2 weeks. Most Outlook users are afraid of archiving because they are worried they will never see archived emails again – this is an unwarranted fear if you know how to properly archive.
Since archiving is a large topic in itself, I’m going to save it for the next Arrow-Tip. In the mean time, leave a comment with your favorite trick for keeping the size of your Mailbox manageable.
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