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How do you automatically delete sent email in the Sent Items folder?

SearchExchange.com expert Brad Dinerman explains two options for automatically deleting email in a Microsoft Outlook Sent Items folder that is older than a specified date.

How do I create a rule that will automatically delete all email messages in a Microsoft Outlook Sent Items folder that are older than 30 days?
If you are looking to implement the solution from the workstation, then do the following at the workstation:
  1. Open Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Right-click the Sent Items folder and select Properties.
  3. Select the AutoArchive tab.
  4. Click the radio button for "Archive This Folder Using These Settings."
  5. Set the value of "Clean Out Items Older Than" to 30 days.
  6. Click the radio button for "Permanently Delete Old Items," or one of the other options if desired.

You can also manage (enforce) the purging from the Exchange server. To do so:

  1. Start Exchange System Manager.
  2. Expand the Recipients node in the left pane.
  3. Right-click once on Recipient Policies and select New -> Recipient Policy.
  4. Select Mailbox Manager Settings and click OK.
  5. Provide a convenient name for the policy, such as "Delete Old Stuff from Sent Items."
  6. Click the Modify button, and select the users to whom you want this policy to apply, then click OK. (Make certain that you specify your filters very carefully here. You don't want your policy to apply to the incorrect users!)
  7. Select the Mailbox Manager Settings (Policy) tab.
  8. Select the desired action from the "When Processing A Mailbox…" dropdown list. You should generate a report your first time around to make sure that the policy does what it is supposed to do.
  9. Clear all checkboxes, except for the one next to Sent Items folder.
  10. Select Sent Items from that list and click the Edit button.
  11. Clear the checkbox next to Message Size, since you only want to delete items based on age. Click OK.
  12. Click the checkbox next to Notifications, and then click the Message button if you want to generate an email alert each time this policy runs.
  13. Click OK when complete.
  14. Right-click the server object in the left pane (under Administrative Groups/Servers) and select Properties.
  15. Select the Mailbox Management tab.
  16. Set a schedule for when you want the policy to run, a reporting action (if desired) and browse to the account to which you want the report delivered.
  17. Click OK.
  18. If you don't want to wait for the scheduled time to run the policy, you can right-click the server object again and select Start Mailbox Management Process. It will begin immediately, and you can then listen to your end users' cries of anguish as they wonder what happened to those emails from 1997!

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information on deleting email:

  • Tip: Email management best practices
  • Expert Advice: Setting age and size limits on users' Deleted Items folders
  • Expert Advice: Setting up a folder to keep messages for "x" days?
  • 15 tips in 15 minutes: Managing recipients
  • Reference Center: Mailbox management tips


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