Archive in Outlook for Windows

Archive in Outlook for Windows

There are several ways to archive messages in Outlook 2016. The methods you can use depend on whether you use Outlook 2016 with an Office 365 for business account, an Exchange account, or other types of accounts such as, Gmail, POP, or IMAP accounts.

All accounts in Outlook 2016 have access to an Archive folder. The Archive folder is one of Outlook's default folders, like Inbox, Sent Items, and the Deleted Items folder. You can't delete the Archive folder. If you use Outlook with an Exchange or Exchange Online account, folder policies such as retention policies apply to the Archive folder.

Using the Archive button to move messages to the Archive folder doesn't reduce your mailbox size. If you need to reduce your mailbox size, you can use Online Archive in Office 365 for Enterprise or Archive items manually.

Archive messages with a single action in Outlook 2016

You can use the Archive button in the Delete group on the ribbon to move one or more messages to your Archive folder without deleting them. There are several benefits to using Archive.

  • Archived items remain easy to find from the search box or by navigating to your Archive folder. When you type a term in the Search box, by default, Outlook 2016 searches all folders in your mailbox.

  • Items are still available on your phone or other devices via the Archive folder

Archive items in Outlook 2016

  1. Select one or more messages in your Inbox or other folder to archive.

  2. In the Delete group, choose Archive. You can also use the Backspace key to immediately archive one or more selected messages.

    One Click Archiving

    Note: Your Archive folder already exists, even if you've never used the feature before. You'll find it in your Outlook folder list. If you don't see the folder and you're using Outlook 2016, go to File > Office Account > Update Options > Update Now.

  3. Your message(s) will be moved to the Archive folder. If you archive a message by mistake, go to the Archive folder and move the message back to your Inbox.

Note: The Archive button is only visible in Outlook 2016. Older versions of Outlook do not have the Archive button on the ribbon.

Archive messages using the keyboard

You can archive one or more selected messages by clicking the Backspace key. If you click the Delete key, the messages go to the Deleted Items folder. You cannot change the behavior of the Backspace key. 

Note: If you have a message open in its own window rather than the Reading pane, the Backspace key will not archive the message. You'll need to close the message and view it in the Reading pane for the Backspace key to archive the message. When the message is open in a new window, the only way to archive the message is by using the Archive button on the ribbon.

How do I find the Archive folder?

Your Archive folder is in the folder list. To display the folder list, select View Folder Pane. and choose Normal.

On the Folder Pane menu, Normal is selected.

How do I search the Archive Folder?

By default, when you search for Outlook items by using the Search Current Mailbox feature at the top of your folder list, Outlook searches your entire mailbox.

Search your mailbox

If you'd like to scope the search to your Archive folder only, first select the Archive folder in the folder list. Your search box will now search only the Archive folder.

Search Archive folder

How is this different from Online Archive?

Online Archive is a feature for Office 365 enterprise customers who have uncommonly large mailboxes. These customers can use an Online Archive to avoid deleting old mail. A user’s Online Archive acts somewhat like a second account in Outlook with its own folder structure. As a result, it isn’t included in searches performed from the Inbox.

If an Online Archive is enabled, administrators and users can set up their mailbox to automatically move old messages to the Online Archive using Archive Policies.

When should I use Archive and Online Archive?

We recommend using the Archive feature to keep your Inbox clearof messages you’ve already answered or acted on. Think of the Archive like a file folder. You can store items in the Archive folder and still access them easily. You can also delete messages or move them to specific folders if that’s more your style.

For users with large mailboxes in an Office 365 Enterprise organization, we recommend administrators set an Archive Policy that moves items to an Online Archive after one year or less if users are reaching their mailbox quota faster. This ensures users don’t have to delete old mail to make room for new mail. Mail older than the specified time can be moved from both the Inbox folder and the local Archive folder.

Frequently asked questions about archiving

No. The Archive folder is one of Outlook's default system folders and cannot be renamed, moved, or deleted.

Archive is a well-understood feature that is already available in Outlook Mobile, Outlook Web App, and, and even other email providers such as Gmail. Because this is an established name, and because Online Archive is an existing feature, we decided to keep both the same.

AutoArchive is an older Outlook feature that allows automatic moving of old mails to a .pst file. This means the mails are removed from the server and are harder to find through search. If the hard drive containing the AutoArchive.pst becomes unusable, these mails are lost. Online Archive is an enterprise-grade replacement for AutoArchive.

AutoArchive can still be used if you don’t have an Online Archive, and if your IT department doesn’t disable the functionality. For more information about AutoArchive in Outlook 2016, see Archive older items manually in Outlook for Windows.

Archive is widely available on Outlook for Windows, Outlook Mobile, Outlook on the web, and The Archive feature can’t be disabled by using Group Policy.

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