Working with message folders in Outlook Web App

By default, messages that are sent to you are stored in your Inbox. But you can organize your messages into a hierarchical folder system and adjust it as your needs change.

In this article

Default folders

Right-click menu for folders

Creating folders

Moving folders


Assign retention and archive policies

The Deleted Items folder

What else do I need to know?

What if I want to know more?

Default folders

Your account starts with these default folders:

  • Inbox Incoming messages arrive in your Inbox unless you’ve created an Inbox rule to redirect them to another folder, or they’re identified as junk email.

  • Drafts If you create or respond to a message, but can’t finish it right away, it will automatically be saved to your Drafts folder. You can come back to the message later to continue editing it, and then send it.

  • Sent Items By default, a copy of every message you send is put in your Sent Items folder.

  • Deleted Items When you delete a message, it’s moved to the Deleted Items folder.

  • Junk Email Messages that have junk email characteristics but that aren’t blocked by a spam filter before they reach your mailbox will automatically be moved to this folder. Learn about junk email and phishing has more information about your Junk Email folder.

  • Notes This is a read-only folder. You must use Outlook to create or edit items in this folder.

You may see other folders that have been created by your administrator.

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Right-click menu for folders

Most of what you can do with a folder will be found in the right-click menu. Actions you can take by right-clicking on a folder include:

  • Create new folder Use this to create a new subfolder in the folder you right-clicked.

  • Rename Rename the folder. You can’t rename the default folders, such as the Inbox folder.

  • Delete Delete the entire folder. Delete will move the folder and its contents to the Deleted Items folder.

  • Empty Deletes everything in the folder, including any subfolders.

  • Add to Favorites Adds the current folder to your Favorites.

  • Move Opens a window where you can select a folder to move this folder to. You can also move a folder by selecting it and dragging it to where you want it.

  • Mark all as read Marks every item in the folder as read.

  • Assign policy This feature may not be available to you. If it is, you can use it to assign a retention or archive policy to messages in the folder.

  • PermissionsYou can give other users access to folders in your mailbox.

Right-click folder menu

Note:  Some features may not be available in your account.

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Creating folders

You can create additional folders to organize your messages any way you want. For example, you can create a folder for a specific project, or for all messages sent by a particular person, or all messages sent to a distribution group that you’re a member of.

To create a new folder, right-click the parent folder you want to create the new folder in. If you want a top-level folder (a folder at the same level as your Inbox), you would use your mailbox as the parent folder.

To create a folder that’s a subfolder of your Inbox:

  1. Right-click your Inbox.

  2. Select Create new folder.

  3. Type the name you want to use for this folder.

  4. Press Enter.

Use right-click to create a new folder

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Moving folders

There are two ways to move a folder.

  • Select the folder you want to move and drag it to where you want it.

  • Right-click the folder you want to move and select Move. A window will pop up that you can use to choose what folder to move the folder into. Select the folder you want to move to and select Move. Or select Cancel to close the move folder window without moving the folder.

    Move folder window

  • You can even create a new folder to move the folder into by right-clicking the parent folder you want and selecting Create new folder.

    Create folder in move folder window

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It’s not unusual to end up with so many folders that it can be hard to keep track of the folders that are most important to you. To make it easier to keep track of those folders, you can add them to your Favorites. Favorites don’t appear in your folder list until you’ve added at least one folder to Favorites. Adding a folder to Favorites doesn’t move the folder, but creates a link to it.

  • To add a folder to Favorites, right-click it and select Add to Favorites.

    Right-click to add a folder to Favorites

  • You can re-order folders in Favorites by selecting and dragging, or by right-clicking and then selecting Move up in list or Move down in list.

  • To remove a folder from Favorites, right-click it in Favorites and select Remove from Favorites. This only removes the link to the folder from Favorites; it won’t delete the folder from your mailbox.

    Right-click in Favorites

You can add a public folder to your Favorites folders in Outlook Desktop. Then in Outlook Web App, you can perform certain functions within those same public folder. Note that these actions can be done in Calendar, Contact, Mail and Post public folders only.

After you add a public folder to your Favorites in Outlook desktop, you can use Outlook Web App to perform the following tasks in the public folders:

  • Create items

  • Retrieve items

  • Update items

  • Delete items

For information about how to create a public folder in Outlook desktop and add it to your Favorites, see Create a public folder in Outlook.

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Assign retention and archive policies

Archive policies and retention policies can be used to automatically move or delete messages after they’ve been in your mailbox for a certain amount of time. To learn more about policies and how to assign them, see Retention and archive policies in Outlook Web App.

Note:  Policies are controlled by your organization’s administrator. Policies may not be available for your account.

The Deleted Items folder

When you delete a message, it’s first moved to the Deleted Items folder. You can either let messages stay there, or you can set Outlook Web App to automatically empty your Deleted Items folder when you sign out. Your administrator may have set up a policy to empty items from your Deleted Items folder after they’ve been there for a preset number of days. For example, there may be a policy that removes anything that’s been in your Deleted Items folder for 30 days. For more information, see Recover deleted items.

Right-click menu for the Deleted Items folder

To configure your Deleted Items folder to empty when you sign out:

  1. Select the gear icon Settings icon > Options > Settings > Mail.

  2. Scroll down to Message options.

  3. Check Empty the Deleted Items folder when I sign out.

  4. Select Save to save your change.

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What else do I need to know?

  • The folders you create can be at the same level as your default folders, for example, the Inbox or Sent Items folders. Or, you can create subfolders within any existing email folder. For example, you can create subfolders within your Inbox.

  • You may need to refresh your browser to view a folder that you just created in the folder list.

  • The default folders (Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items, and Deleted Items) always appear at the top of the folder list. Other folders that you create at the same level will appear in alphabetical order below those four. Subfolders always appear in alphabetical order in their parent folder.

  • Folders that you add to Favorites can be arranged in any order that you want.

  • Some folders, for example, the Inbox, can't be renamed. If the folder can't be renamed, the Rename option in the menu will appear dimmed.

  • When you delete a folder, it's moved to the Deleted Items folder. The folder isn't permanently removed until you empty the Deleted Items folder or delete the folder from the Deleted Items folder.

  • You can use Inbox rules to automatically move incoming messages to specific folders based on criteria you choose.

  • If messages are going into a folder other than your Inbox folder, you’ve probably created an Inbox rule that’s moving them.

  • You can move messages from one folder to another by selecting them in the message list and dragging them to the folder you want to move them to. You can also right-click on a message to see a menu of options.

  • If you need to move messages out of your mailbox but want to save them, you can use Outlook and set up a .pst file to move those message to. The messages will be available only when you’re using Outlook and can access the .pst file. For more information, see Introduction to Outlook Data Files (.pst and .ost), and Create an Outlook Data File (.pst) to save your information. Once you’ve created a .pst file, you can use it just like any other folder in Outlook.

  • A copy of every message you send is automatically stored in your Sent Items folder.

What if I want to know more?

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