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How to set Retention Policies for your Folders in Outlook

You are an Exchange user and want to set various Retention Policies in Outlook. Basically, you want to expire (delete) emails after a set amount of time.


This is typically done for two reasons: Legal/Compliance and Mailbox Management.

With Mailbox Management, you may know that a folder gets full quickly and you want to purge unread emails. The prime example: Your Newsletters folder. So let’s use that as an example.

For me, I use an Outlook Rule so that all incoming newsletters go into a folder named Newsletter. From my history, I know that if I don’t read the newsletter within 1 month, that I will never read it. So instead of having a Newsletter folder with 1000+ items, why not auto-purge emails older than 1 month?

  1. Open Outlook 2007+.
  2. Right click on your Newsletter folder.
  3. Click on Properties.
  4. Click on Policy.
  5. The default for Folder Policy is normally “Use Parent Folder Policy”. Since Newsletter is at the top-level, this is probably “Forever” in reality.
  6. I changed this to “1 Month Delete (30 days)”.
  7. Click Ok.

Now, any email in that folder will purge after 30 days.

This is super useful for any mailbox folder that fills up quickly, e.g., newsletter, mailing lists, incoming service requests updates, automated jobs and their emails, etc.

A quick note for Office 365 users: It can take a solid week for this to take effect.


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