One of the main problems that most Outlook users face is that it is very slow and consumes a lot of memory on their systems. I have a 1.5GB Outlook file, but Outlook is fast and not using all the resources of my computer! Why?
The point is that I optimize my Outlook by doing a few mundane tasks to make sure it stays clean and thin. Instead of dealing with Outlook crashes, crazy error messages, memory overloads or wasting time waiting for Outlook to load, why not follow my advice below to make Outlook fast and responsive.
One thing you want to understand about Outlook is that it runs entirely from a database. All your emails, tasks, calendar items, business contacts, etc. are stored in a database file. To reduce memory usage and keep Outlook fast, this database needs to be small and optimized.
Reduce Outlook’s memory usage
Rule 1. First, make sure AutoArchive is enabled in Outlook. You will probably never look at these letters from five years ago again? Instead of having thousands of emails in your Inbox, AutoArchive will move the old ones to a new PST file and keep your current PST file thin. You can always find these old letters later by doing a search.
Click File, then click Tools and then Mailbox Cleanup. You will see several options as shown below. I would check the mailbox size and if it is over 500MB you should turn on autoarchive or delete all emails that take up a lot of space. Also, don’t forget to empty your deleted items folder afterwards, as it still takes up space.
It’s also worth noting that you must do this for each mailbox configured in Outlook. This is why it is recommended to enable AutoArchive, because it will take care of it automatically, without any intervention.
If you don’t want to do this, at least move all your old emails to a different folder so Outlook doesn’t download thousands of emails every time they arrive in your Inbox, which will increase memory usage.
Rule 2. Make sure you only use the required Outlook add-ins. Many programs like to automatically install add-ons to Outlook like Adobe, EverNote, Wunderlist, etc. Even Microsoft adds a bunch of things that I usually disable like Skype, OneNote, SharePoint, etc.
If you are not using them, get rid of them! They must be loaded into memory when Outlook starts and also slow down the program. To actually disable an add-in, you have to select “COM Add-ins” in the combo box at the bottom and click Go. Another window will appear in which you can uncheck those items that you do not need.
Rule 3. Outlook comes with the speech and handwriting recognition features that are part of Windows. If you don’t use this, disable it so it doesn’t load every time Outlook starts. This will also prevent your system from crawling email, etc.
You can go to Control Panel, Speech Recognition and then click Advanced Speech Options.
In the User Preferences section, clear the Check documents and mail for more accuracy check box.
Rule 4. Use a different program for RSS feeds and Internet calendars. Yes, Google Reader was great, and now that it’s gone, why not use Outlook to manage your feeds? Bad idea! There are many more good online and offline RSS readers that you can use besides Outlook.
Outlook just wasn’t designed to handle RSS feeds that well, so anything more than a couple will slow down Outlook. You can use Google Calendar for any internet calendars you want to keep track of.
Rule 5. People for some reason forget about their folders for spam and garbage. Empty them! Someone like me gets hundreds of spam emails a day! This is all stored in the Outlook database and slows things down. Empty your spam folder and trash frequently.
Rule 6. Compress the PST file from time to time. You can do this by going to File, then Data Management. Then click on the PST file and select Preferences. Then click the Compress button.
In newer versions of Office, you need to click File and then Account Settings. Click the Data Files tab and double-click the data file you want to compress.
Outlook will do this automatically in the background, but only starts when your computer is idle and Outlook is open. Sometimes this situation never occurs, so it is recommended to do it manually from time to time.
Rule 7: If you have really large Outlook files and search indexing is enabled, it can cause Outlook to slow down significantly. It might be a good idea to turn off search indexing for Outlook until you need it, or delete and rebuild the index just in case. In any case, you should reduce the size of your main data files to reduce the index.
Just click start and enter search. Click the Change When Windows Search button to remove Outlook from the search index.
Rule 8. Another big slowdown for Outlook is any antivirus program that scans all of your emails. This is now very useful if you tend to click on malicious links or fake emails. Unfortunately, even the smartest users are sometimes fooled, so additional protection is helpful.
However, depending on the antivirus program, it can actually slow down Outlook. If you’re having this problem, it’s advised that you disable your antivirus for Outlook and see if the problem goes away. If so, you should consider another program that is more efficient at scanning.
Rule 9. This tip only applies to Microsoft Exchange accounts, so it will not work for POP or IMAP accounts. Basically, you want to enable Cached Exchange Mode, which means emails are stored locally and can be accessed faster.
Go to File, Account Settings, and then double-click your email account on the Email tab. Select the Use Cached Exchange Mode check box.
Hopefully these steps will reduce the memory footprint of Outlook and make it run faster! Also, make sure you have the latest updates and service packs for Office and Windows as they help fix performance issues and memory leaks! Enjoy!