Use Conversation Clean Up to delete redundant messages

Applies to: Outlook for Office 365, Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Office for business, Outlook 2013.

The Conversation Clean Up feature in Outlook can minimise the overall messages in your mail folders. Redundant messages throughout a Conversation are moved to the Deleted Items folder.

What is a conversation?

You might know a Conversation by the term email thread. A Conversation is the complete set of email messages from the first message through all responses. The messages of a Conversation have the same subject.

For example, when you send a message to someone and then they reply, a Conversation results. In many Conversations, there might be many replies back and forth. Multiple people might reply to different messages in the Conversation.

What does Conversation Clean Up do?

Conversation Clean Up assesses the contents of each message in the Conversation. If a message is fully intact within one of the replies, the former message is deleted.

Conversation Clean Up is most useful on Conversations with many responses back and forth, especially with several recipients.

Remove redundant messages

  1. On the Home tab, in the Delete group, press Clean Up.
  2. Select one of the following:
    • Clean Up Conversation – The present Conversation is reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.
    • Clean Up Folder -All Conversations in the specified folder are reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.
    • Clean Up Folder & Subfolders – All Conversations in the chosen folder and any folder enclosed are reviewed, and redundant messages are deleted.

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Change Conversation Clean Up options

You can state which messages are exempt from Clean Up and the location of messages when they are deleted.

  1. Pick the File tab.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Choose Mail.
  4. Under Conversation Clean Up, do any of the following:
  • To edit where items are moved, for Cleaned-up items will go to this folder, pick Browse, and then choose an Outlook folder. Automatically, messages are sent to the Deleted Items folder. With several email accounts in your Outlook profile, every account has its own Deleted Items folder. Messages are assigned to the Deleted Items folder that matches with the particular email account.
  • To replicate the folder structure of items Clean Up deletes (when you use the Clean Up Folders & Subfolders command), click When cleaning sub-folders, recreate the folder hierarchy in the destination folder.

Note:  This option is not available if the destination is the Deleted Items folder.

  • To always retain any unread message, check the Don’t move unread messages check box. We recommend that you don’t choose this option. The remaining Conversation messages will contain any messages that are deleted, such as those that you might not have read.
  • To always keep any categorised message, click the Don’t move categorized messages check box. We recommend that you select this option. Categories relate to specific messages, and deleting a categorised message would lead to the loss of the categorised message.
  • To always save any flagged message, check the Don’t move flagged messages check box. We recommend that you select this option. Flags correspond to specific messages, and deleting a flagged message would cause the loss of the flagged message.
  • To always retain any digitally signed message, clickt the Don’t move digitally-signed messages check box. We recommend that you select this option.
  • To always keep the original message if someone changes the message when it is included in replies, select the When a reply modifies a message, don’t move the original check box. We recommend that you select this option. This ensures that you have a complete record of all content in the Conversation, especially if someone modifies a message that is contained inside a reply.

This information was compiled using information courtesy of © Microsoft 2020. All rights reserved.

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