TechRepublic Tutorial: Archive Outlook folders to keep it neat

How to archive folders in Outlook

We’ve all got those overflowing file folders in Outlook named Miscellaneous or To Be Filed. Periodically, we have to sort through them to find the things we need to keep and get the rest out of our way.

Outlook has a feature that will do your sorting, filing, and deleting for you, managing your e-mail either manually or automatically. It’s called archiving, and teaching your students about it will help them to stay organized and avoid excess clutter. And if your students don’t already know about archiving, it may also explain the mystery of some “disappearing” messages.
This article is the fifth in a series about Outlook training. Catch up on the series by reading: Joys and pitfalls: Teaching beginning Outlook, Folders keep the Inbox clutter-free, Using the Address Book, and E-mail formats and signatures. Watch for next week’s installment about using Outlook’s public folders.
Out with the old and in with the new
Many of us are reluctant to throw anything away. The pack rats of the world are the ones with the notoriously full Inbox. That’s where archiving comes in.

Archiving moves old items to a storage file. To archive a particular folder, such as the Inbox, just select it in the Folder List, click the File menu, and choose Archive. The Archive dialog box opens.

The Archive dialog box

Make sure the radio button next to Archive This Folder And All Subfolders is checked, and verify that the folder containing the items you want to archive is checked. A default folder will be listed in the Archive File box. You may choose to use it, type a filename for the archived items to be transferred to, or click Browse to select from a list. In the Archive Items Older Than box, enter a date—items older than this date will be archived.

AutoArchiving fights clutter and saves time
To save your students the time and effort of archiving information in a catch-as-catch-can manner, show them how to use Outlook’s AutoArchiving feature. AutoArchiving uses an age that you specify to decide when it’s time to move an item to its Archive folder.

The specifications for AutoArchiving can be set at the folder level, so you can set up different parameters for different folders. You also may choose to have the AutoArchive function simply delete items when they reach a certain age. That means you can tell Outlook to send Inbox items to an archive folder after they’re one month old but permanently delete things in the Deleted Items folder after they’re one week old. How’s that for efficient?

To set up AutoArchiving, you must first turn this feature on. Start by going to Tools | Options. Click the Other tab and then click AutoArchive. Place a check mark in the AutoArchive Every box and set the number of days. If you’d like a pop-up message before Outlook performs the function, place a check mark in the Prompt Before AutoArchive box. If you’d like the items deleted out of your folders once they’ve been copied to the Archive folder, place a check mark in the Delete Expired Items box. If you don’t check this box, you are, to some extent, defeating the purpose of the AutoArchive feature.

You must turn on the AutoArchive feature.

Once that’s been done, you are ready to set your AutoArchiving preferences for individual folders. Several Outlook folders are set up with AutoArchive turned on. These folders and their default aging periods are Calendar (six months), Tasks (six months), Journal (six months), Sent Items (two months), and Deleted Items (two months). Inbox, Notes, Contacts, and Drafts do not have AutoArchive activated automatically. You’ll definitely want to show your students how to set up archiving for their Inbox and how to modify the settings on the Deleted Items folder.

To set AutoArchiving for any folder, right-click the folder in the Folder List and choose Properties. Click the AutoArchive tab and select the Clean Out Items Older Than check box. Enter a number in the box and use the drop-down list to choose Days, Weeks, or Months. This tells Outlook how old items in this folder should be before they’re transferred to your Archive file. Make sure there’s a check mark in the Move Old Items To box, and either type a filename, click Browse to select a file, or use the default filename.

The AutoArchive tab in a folder’s Inbox Properties box allows users to set up AutoArchiving preferences.

What dates count?
It’s important to understand which date AutoArchive references when it chooses items to be archived. Outlook’s Help files contain the following list that gives the archive date for particular items. Note that in every case (except Contact, which is not archived), the last-modified date is the one AutoArchive will reference. That means your students need not fear that files they use often will be archived.

Dates referenced by AutoArchive.

How do I retrieve my items?
I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you will never need anything that is archived. If you didn’t use it before it got archived, you probably won’t need it after. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that you can retrieve items in two ways: by importing the Archive file or by opening the Archive file.

If you import the Archive file, you may choose to move all the archived items back into the folders they came from or import the archived items into a new folder. If you open your Archive folder, it is automatically added to your Folder List, and you can access your items from there.

Need more Outlook help?
If you need more help on archiving, importing, and exporting, or any other issue, Microsoft’s Web site is a great source of information. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Outlook’s Help files, the Office Assistant will always offer the option of finding help on the Web. If you are doing a search with the Office Assistant, look for the More Help On The Web option. It takes you to a searchable database of information about Microsoft products.

The Microsoft site also offers articles and updates for Office products. For an overview of ways to create copies of Outlook information, read Ways to Back Up Outlook 2000 Data from the Microsoft Web site.
What has your experience teaching Outlook been like? What tips and tricks do you offer for other trainers or for your students? What area causes you the most grief when you're teaching Outlook? Write and let us know or post your comments below.

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