Friday, April 22, 2011

Clean up Outlook 2010 and gmail via IMAP

I use Outlook 2010 to access my gmail. 


One of the problem is that the .pst file grows so fast. I just found one of the culprit: Sent Messages!


In order to clean it up, I did the following:

  1. Create a label (a folder in Outlook) called "Sent Messages"
  2. In Outlook, open [Google mail]/Sent Mail
  3. Move all emails (or just the large ones, or the old ones) to the folder "Sent Messages". This will move them but not remove the cached copy from your computer (in the .pst file)
  4. Through the gmail web interface, rename the label "Sent Messages" to e.g. "Sent Messages22"
  5. In Outlook, right-click on your mailbox (the top folder in the hierarchy) and select "Update Folder list". This will remove the local cached copy of all messages in "Sent Messages"
  6. Through the gmail web interface, rename back the label "Sent Messages22" to  "Sent Messages". Note that you can use this technique for any folder that uses up too much space. To find out which folders are the largest, right click on the mailbox, go to "Data File Properties", then click on the button "Folder Size". If Outlook was a finished product, you should then be able to sort be size but now you just need to browse to find out which ones are large. You can then rename them all on the web interface (just click on the label), update the folder list, rename them back to their original names and compress the outlook data file.
It is pretty unsettling that in 2011, there is no easier way to do it, but deleting your Outlook .pst file will make you lose all kinds of information, such as email groups, part of your address book, your email accounts, etc. (I tried...).


Note: if you try to move messages via the web interface, note that it will move the whole conversation, not just the message, like in Outlook!

If you have any other idea or comment, feel free!

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