Managing your personal folders in Outlook

What is a .pst file?

The .pst file is the personal folder in Outlook containing emails, contacts, and calendar events.

Why should I care about the size of your .pst files?

Microsoft removed the 2Gb cap for .pst files with the release of Outlook 2003 and implemented a 20Gb cap instead. However, the larger the .pst file, the more likely you’ll run into file damage and it becomes harder and even less likely that you’ll be able to repair it. As such, we recommend keeping your .pst files below 2Gb regardless of the version of
outlook you are using.

How do I know how big my .pst file is?

There are 2 methods of doing this. You can right click on the personal folder and select Data File Properties. From there click on Folder Size and look at the Total size appearing in KB. 1,000 KB is approximately 1 MB and 1,000 MB is approximately 1 GB. So, 2,000,000 KB is roughly 2 GB. The other method is to go to the Windows folder containing your .pst file and hover your mouse over the appropriate file. A box will
appear that includes the size of the file in an easy to read format. Click here for information on how to find your .pst files.

So what do I do about it?

With a bit of initial work, keeping your .pst file size down only requires a little light maintenance.

Step one is to empty your Junk E-mail folder by right clicking and selecting empty. Then you’ll want to empty your Trash in the same manner. These two folders tend to fill up without our even noticing and you’ll want to repeat these steps every so often as part of your maintenance. You can reduce how often this needs to be done by preventing spam, which we will tell you how to do next week.

Next, you’ll want to create some new personal folders.  Select your version of Outlook below for instructions on creating a new personal folder.

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You’ll want to keep some type of organization in mind when you do this so that you’ll know where to find your messages. For example, you might create one for work and one for personal emails. Or arrange them by date. How you want to organize them is up to you, just keep in mind that the more exact it is, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for later.

You will then want to create subfolders in the personal folders by right clicking the personal folder and selecting New Folder.

At this point, you can drag emails or folders down if you’re in a hurry. However, to reduce the maintenance work later on, I would recommend creating rules now.

Outlook rules are instructions Outlook follows when it comes across a pre-defined event. For example, you can create a rule that says all emails sent from a certain email address should be moved into a folder for that person. Or that all emails with “TPS Report” in the subject will get moved into the “Work” folder. For instructions on creating rules, click on your version of Outlook below.

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Once you’ve followed these steps, managing your .pst size is a matter of emptying your Junk E-mail and Trash folders once in a while and creating the occasional rule as changes occur in the type of email you’re receiving.

Archiving

Another method of managing your .pst file size is to use Outlook’s AutoArchive feature. I prefer not to use this method as it’s less organized. However, it’s very easy to set up and requires no maintenance.

To set up Outlook’s AutoArchive select your version of Outlook below.

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