397 Deleting many Outlook emails at the same time

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Sometimes when I see a client’s computer, I look at Outlook and see 15,000 or more emails in the inbox. And 12,000 have never even been opened. There’s a way to get rid of them efficiently.

MS Outlook


Your Outlook inbox is not designed to efficiently store many thousands of emails. If you have emails you need to actually save for future reference, that’s what folders are for. Create a folder (or several folders) and save your emails that way.

But for a lot of people, the excess emails in the Outlook inbox are not ones that are needed. They’re just sitting there because they never got opened and never got deleted. And after a little while, there are so many in there that it’s easy to just ignore them and plan on cleaning them out “someday”. Well, guess what – today’s the day!

One reason people tend to ignore that growing quantity of need-to-be-deleted emails is because it takes so long to delete them individually. And that’s true – it would take a very long time if you had to do them one at a time. If you had 15,000 emails in Outlook that need to be deleted, and you spent just 2 seconds deleting each one, you’d have to spend 8 hours non-stop on that project in order to complete it! No wonder it gets ignored.

But the good news is that there’s a huge shortcut for that dreaded process. You can delete hundreds or thousands at a time.

Here’s how (we’ll just delete 10 at once in this example, but once you know the process you can choose how many to delete at a time):

First, you need to make sure your emails are sorted by date received. They probably already are, but if not, click on the Date column to make sure they’re sorted that way.

Now, scroll down to the oldest email in the Inbox and click once just to highlight it.

Then, scroll up to the 10th-oldest email (10 emails away from the oldest one). Hold the SHIFT key on the keyboard, and click the 10th one.

Now, you can see that there are TEN emails that are highlighted. Make sure these are emails you want to delete, and just tap the Delete key on your keyboard. Or you can click the Delete icon in Outlook. Either way, those 10 emails are all deleted with just that one click.

And now that you know the process, you don’t have to do just 10 at a time. You can do hundreds or maybe even 1000 at a time. If you try to do more than that at once, it might take your computer a while to process each group. Don’t worry, just let it work. But I wouldn’t try to do 5000 or 10,000 at once – if your computer is a bit older, it might not be able to handle that much processing at once.

There are a couple of things to consider in this process:

First – when you do this, the emails are not being deleted from Outlook. They are just being moved to the Deleted Items folder. If you really want to get rid of them permanently, then after you delete them from your Inbox, go over to the Deleted Items folder and do a right click and choose to empty that folder.

Second – you probably have a lot of emails that you got rid of that had never even been opened. You need to go into one of those emails, scroll to the bottom, and click on the Unsubscribe link. It doesn’t help to get rid of the piles of unopened email, if those emails are just going to keep coming in and never get opened. Before long, you’ll have the same problem. Stop the flow of emails you are not going to read.


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