Jun 10

The measly 350MB mailbox quota allotted by my corporate IT department has me being creative with the storage of my email. Many of the other information workers I know suffer the same plight. If you are a Microsoft Entourage (the Mac OS X cousin to Microsoft Outlook) like me and like to avoid paying for tools (like EEAX or MailSteward), I hope this how-to helps assuage your mail storage, archival and backup woes. In my opinion, how to Archive Your Data by Microsoft Entourage Help and other articles like “In Entourage, how do I archive my mail?” do a mediocre job of informing us about the caveats involved in archiving mail. The two native export options I’ll speak of are:

  1. archive Entourage mail using mbox files
    • an mbox file contains a set of mail messages that you can import back into Entourage or into some other mail applications.
  2. archive Entourage mail using .rge archives
    • an Entourage archive file (.rge) can contain email messages, contacts, events, notes, tasks, and project files.
    • .rge files have high compression ratios, which saves on your disk space.

I promulgate using the latter of these options to archive your Entourage mail is the solution of choice and here’s how I suggest doing so:

Suggested Solution

To clean up your mailbox in a comprehensive Time Machine and Spotlight-friendly way, use a combination of Mail Views (Saved Searches), a .rge archive and multiple identities. To ready your mail for archiving, you’ll first want to organize mail for export. Entourage will export data, but in a limited number of ways. One way to do this is by creating and assigning a category to your mail. Like others before me, I’ve chosen to archive my mail on an annual basis (I don’t know why, since I reach my mail quota well ahead of reaching the end of the year – I may need to archive every 6 months).

1. Use Categories to Organize Email for Export

Mail Views for Received and Sent Archives

Mail Views for Received and Sent Archives

I suggest creating two custom Mail Views (last group in the folders pane, below Microsoft News Server) one for Received Mail and for Sent Mail.

  1. To create a mail view for Received Mail, select the folder you want to search in (probably your Inbox), then go to to Edit > Advanced Search (⌥⌘ F)
  2. Set the option to “Match if any criteria are met”
  3. From the dropdown, set “Date Received”
  4. From the next dropdown, set “Greater Than” and then enter the preferred email age. This will find all email older than the specified number of days in the date received field. In the example screenshot, I was 151 days into the 365 day year when creating this archive.
  5. Mail View to Archive Email by Date Sent

    Mail View to Archive Email by Date Sent

  6. Entourage will find all the matching mail. Scroll through and make sure all the mail you want is in the view and from all the folders you wish to archive. Save the search.
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 for your Sent Items using the parameters “Date Sent”, “Greater Than”, .
Setting Category on Entourage Mail

Setting Category on Entourage Mail

2. Create an “Archive” Category

Once you’ve verified these two mail views to filter out the mail you wish to archive, create a new category to put them in.

  1. Go to Edit > Categories > Edit Categories and edit your categories to make an “Archive” category
  2. Right-click on your Mail Views, then assign your new category “Archive” to those items.

3. Export Mail to .rge Archive

  1. Go to File > Export
  2. Select the option to export “Items that are in a category”.
  3. Choose your custom “Archive” category. Then select the item types, mail, tasks, etc., that you want to archive

Export Entourage Mail to rge Archive

Export Entourage Mail to rge Archive

Delete Entourage Archived .rge Mail

Delete Entourage Archived .rge Mail

4. Create Another Identity

If you want quick access to your archived mail, I suggest creating a new Identity that will allow you to quickly “Switch Identities” to view old mail.

Identity Creation Option 1
  1. Go to your ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2008 Identities/your identity
  2. Your Identity is named Main by default.
  3. Duplicate your current Identity and rename it. Now, you have a duplicate Identity folder structure with your old mail that you can quickly switch to for easy searching.
  4. Remove old mail messages from your current Identity using a custom Mail View. You may wish to leave at least 60 days of old mail. You will have some duplicates but this may be preferable to switching Identities constantly to find recent mail.
Identity Creation Option 2
  1. Go to Entourage > Switch Identity
  2. Select “New”
  3. Choose a name for your new identity and click “Next”
  4. Skip the Assistant that comes up to import any files or set email account options.
  5. Go to File > Import
  6. Choose “Entourage information from an archive or earlier version”
  7. Choose “Entourage archive (.rge)”
  8. Select the .rge archive file that you have exported from Entourage and allow Entourage to import the archive

You may want to drag and drop your folders from the auto-created Archive.rge folder into folders within your existing Inbox structure.

Now you can switch back and forth between identities (Switch Identities ⌥⌘ Q) if you want to access an archive. Here’s why using the latter two solutions are a poor choice:

Alternative Solution

  1. Create a custom Mail View you can drag any view out of Entourage to create an .mbox file of the messages in that view.

caution-sign-small The message Received timestamp is lost on export.

Use a combination of Mail Views and MBOX file(s). Once your mail is organized into a categorical, meaningful saved searched, simply click and drag the view to your desktop. This creates an MBOX file (which can be opened with a text editor if you don’t mind reading through Internet headers in your mail and HTML converted to plain-text). Dragging mail to an MBOX file does not remove the mail from your mailbox. If you want to free up space in your mailbox, you’ll need to delete the contents of your Mail View separately.

tipDrag your MBOX files into a new Identity, then switch Identities to search old mail. This keeps your regular database lean and more responsive.

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