How to automatically delete deleted messages in Outlook

Contents
  1. Automatic email cleaning works when you are online
  2. Automatically delete deleted messages in Outlook
  3. Manually clean up deleted messages

Automatic email cleaning works when you are online

Outlook does not immediately delete messages in the Deleted Items folder. This gives you the option to recover any items in the folder that were accidentally deleted. However, messages pile up in the Deleted Items folder until the messages are manually erased or automatically deleted on a set schedule every week or so.

The instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, and Outlook for Office 365.

Automatically delete deleted messages in Outlook

To automatically clean messages in Outlook’s Deleted Items folder:

  1. Open Outlook and select a folder Deleted items

  2. Go to the tab folder and select Auto archive settings

  3. In the dialog box Deleted Item Properties select Archive this folder with these settings

  4. Change the setting Delete items older than to increase or decrease the time to final cleanup of deleted items.

    Give yourself time to recover messages that have been accidentally deleted. Set a purge delay of a few days, a week, or a month, depending on how long you want to keep deleted messages in the Deleted Items folder.

  5. Select Permanently delete old items

  6. Click Okay to complete and save your settings.

  7. Deleted messages are moved to the Deleted Items folder and marked for deletion. After the set time, the messages are automatically deleted.

Outlook does not automatically delete messages when you are offline. Messages are deleted when you open Outlook while browsing the web.

Manually clean up deleted messages

If you don’t want to delete messages automatically, use the manual approach:

  1. Right click on folder Deleted items

  2. Select Empty folder

  3. In the confirmation window, select Yes

  4. All items in the Deleted Items folder will be deleted immediately.

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