How to Clean Up Outlook 2010 Folders and Conversations

Cleaning your inbox can be a long and involved process. But a new feature in Outlook 2010 makes it much easier.

Cleaning up your inbox can, at times, be a really long process. Especially for those in the Corporate environment where a single issue can turn into a few dozen emails while we talk about the issue and possible solutions. Trying to wade through which email is a reply in the chain or a separate discussion we should keep can be time-consuming. And fills up the inbox since my day is spent reading emails, not deleting them. The good news with Outlook 2010 is it has the ability to auto-clean conversations for you.

Clean Up Outlook 2010 Folders and Conversations

Important: This is an article for Outlook 2010. If you are looking for modern versions, check out our article on how to clean your Outlook inbox fast. It has been updated for Microsoft 365 (formerly O365).

Under the Home ribbon, click the Clean Up tool, and you’ll have three options.

  • Clean Up Conversation – just one chain of emails
  • Clean Up Folder – entire inbox or other folders
  • Clean Up Folder & Subfolders

clean up your folder or conversations in outlook 2010

Select the option that suits your needs; if you are new to Outlook 2010, I suggest you start with cleaning conversations to avoid accidentally erasing the wrong emails from your inbox. With either option, be sure to select which folder or conversation you would like to clean up.

outlook 2010 conversations and folders

After clicking the Clean Up option, a small dialog box will appear. In this box, click the Settings button.

clean up folders and subfolders settings outlook 2010

The Outlook Options window should automatically open up to the Mail tab. Scroll down to the Conversation Clean Up section, and here you can completely customize the Clean Up tool. Most of the settings are straightforward but keep in mind that cleaned-up emails will go to the Deleted Items (Trash) folder by default, but you can change that if you click Browse and select a different folder. Click OK to save any changes you make.

mail options outlook 2010 conversation clean up

Now that we have things set up the way we want click the Clean Up button on the dialog box that first appeared.

outlook 2010 clean up

Summing Up

Outlook will go through your folder or conversation and clean out all of the conversations that it considers useless according to the settings you entered in Step 3.

If you were successful at cleaning out some emails, you wouldn’t see any notifications. Instead, the cleaned-up emails will be moved to your Deleted Items folder or wherever you specified they should go.

If there were nothing to clean, you’d see a dialog box appear alerting you that “No messages were cleaned up.”

outlook 2010 deleted items folderimageoutlook 2010 no emails to clean up

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