Outlook’s archived e-mail only a click away

Question: I have used the archive function in Outlook 2000 to store old e-mails. Now I want to look at an e-mail that’s been archived. How do I do this? —C.M.

Answer: Archiving old e-mails in Microsoft Outlook 2000 and Outlook 2002 is a good idea. It reduces the size of your e-mail file, called outlook.pst, and makes it easier to manage and move your messages, should you change computers.

(If you use Microsoft Outlook Express, please see the bottom of this column.)

For those who have not found this trick, go to the File menu in Outlook and choose Archive, then follow the instructions. You’ll notice that the archive is saved by default to a file called archive.pst, though you can name the file anything you want. In fact, if you’re really organized, you can archive selectively.

For example, you could save all e-mails to and from your grandma to an archive called grandma.pst, and perhaps all your business e-mails to another archive called business.pst.

Once e-mails are archived, they are inaccessible until you reinstate them, or open and browse their .PST file.

To open and browse the archive file, click the File menu, then Open, then Outlook Data File.

This will create a folder for the archive in Outlook’s e-mail folders list on the left side of the program. You can browse through it just as you would the e-mails in your Inbox.

When you’re done, right-click on this archive folder and select Close filename, where filename is the name of the archive folder.

You can also retrieve items from an archive file by importing it back into Outlook 2000/2002.

If you want a commercial product to simplify the above processes for you, try OutBack Plus.

If you import the archive file, you can either transfer all the archived items back into the original folders they were archived from or you can import them into a specific folder.

Here’s how:

If you want to import the archive into a new folder, first create a new folder in Outlook. Do this by right-clicking on a folder in the left pane of Outlook. If you right-click on Inbox and choose New Folder, the new folder will be created as a subfolder of your e-mail Inbox.

Next, click on the File menu, click Import and Export.

A wizard will start up. This is not a man with a pointy hat, but a step-by-step box that walks you through the process.

From the first box in the wizard, choose Import from another file or program. Click Next. Select Personal Folder File (.pst). Choose the archived PST file by browsing to it on your hard drive in the wizard. (Use the Browse button to find it.)

Answer any remaining questions the wizard asks you, and the e-mails from the archive will be reinstated. There will be options on whether to reinstate the archive to its former folder, or to import them to the new folder you created at the beginning of the process.

One note of caution: If you choose to reinstate the items from the archive, you’ll have to use the Archive command from the File menu to purge them.

A further note for those using Microsoft Outlook Express, the free e-mail program that comes with the Internet Explorer web browser: There is no archive function in this program, but you can shrink the size of the e-mail files by using the Compact function. Go to the File menu, choose Folder, then Compact or Compact All Folders. If this command does not exist in your File menu, upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Outlook Express by going to the Microsoft Outlook Express Support Center.