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MS Outlook 2010: Keeping Your Conversations Clean

Anyone who uses e-mail with any frequency can understand the frustration (not to mention overwhelming feeling) of having multiple messages in your Inbox that are nothing more than the back and forth of a conversation you’re having with someone.

You send a message… they reply with your original message at the bottom… you reply back and now your message and theirs is at the bottom… they reply back… well, you get the idea.

After a while, maybe even days later, you have a very long message containing the entire conversation but you also have all the previous ones.

Do we really need all that redundancy cluttering our Inbox?

I can’t speak for you, but I definitely think not.

The question begs to be asked, how do we get rid of the prior messages?

I mean, we kept them for reference but now they’re in our Inbox and they are spread out among all the other stuff that we’ve been working on for a few days. I really don’t feel like scrolling through to find and delete them individually nor do I feel like sorting the messages in a different way to lump them all together for a quicker, and yet still a manual, deletion.

Manual deletion of however messages is not high on my priority list, so what does Outlook have to offer?

Fortunately, it has a pretty good and much faster way to get rid of all the redundant information contained in the string of messages. Specifically we’re going to “Clean Up” the conversation.

It’s a simple process…

First, select a message that is a part of the conversation you need to clean up.

On the Home tab of the Ribbon locate the Clean Up button in the Delete group.


As you can see, when you click the button a list of choices opens.

You can actually choose to run the Clean Up feature on an individual conversation, a folder or a folder and its subfolders. (While my example is for a conversation, I’m sure you get the gist of the other choices.)

Once you choose Clean Up Conversation, a dialog box may open asking for confirmation of your decision – click OK. (If you don’t want to see the confirmation each time, be sure to check the “Do not show this message again” option.

That’s all there is to it.

Outlook will go through the Inbox (or whatever folder you were in) and move all messages from the conversation that are completely included in a later message to the Deleted Items box.

Almost as a bonus – if you’re only going to clean up a conversation (not a folder) then with the message selected simply use Alt + Delete to start the process.

Removing redundant information from your Inbox has never been so quick or easy!

~ April