How To Archive & Restore Email from Outlook 2011 for Mac

Ben Greiner -

How To Archive



Prepare a place to archive the email:

  1. Connect to your server  (or other archive destination).
  2. Create a new folder for the archived email.
  3. Check for missing IMAP folders: Outlook 2011 for Mac - Missing IMAP Folders


Archive email folders as .mbox files. This allows you to easily restore complete folders in the future.

  1. Select the folder that you want to archive.

    NOTE: Unfortunately, as of this writing, Outlook does NOT allow the selection of multiple folders, so archiving one folder at a time is necessary.
  2. Drag the selected folder to the Desktop or a folder in the Finder (your archive destination).

    NOTE: Be sure this destination is part of a backup system or redundant archive system! (Be sure your version of Outlook is fully patched because early versions didn't allow you to drag folders to the Desktop.)
  3. Wait for and verify that all your folders copy successfully to the destination location as .mbox archives on the server.

    NOTE: Large folders will take a long time to copy and there will be no progress indicator. Very large folders will appear to stall both Outlook and the Finder. Be patient. It will work. Also be sure to copy the top-most folder and any subfolders because just copying the top folder will not copy any of the subfolders.

    IMPORTANT: Outlook will truncate the copying of any folder larger than 2.15GB. If you're folder is larger than 2.15GB, then you must split it in half to ensure you don't miss any messages. Ideally, split the folder directly on the email server (rather than via Outlook).


Also archive email as individual emails (this provides for easier searching and quick access to single messages).

  1. Choose an email folder in Outlook that you want to archive. You can only perform this action with one folder at a time.
  2. Select all of the emails in that folder by clicking on one email then pressing the Command-A keys, or choose Select All from the Edit menu.
  3. Click and hold on the selected messages then drag-and-drop (copy) to the folder you created on the server. 


The previous two steps will NOT delete items from Outlook; they will save a copy of the selected emails to the network/server directory you chose. The final step — once you're confident the copies are complete — is to delete the archived folders from Outlook. Right-click on the folder you wish to remove and select 'Delete'.

How To Restore

When you need to restore messages from the email archive you have two options:


Restore entire folders (Step 2 above) 

  1. From Outlook choose File > Import, select from a text file > .mbox 
  2. Choose the .mbox you want to import from the archived email on the server and it will import into the On My Computer section of Outlook 2011. (Once again, the simple folk at Microsoft have not provided a progress bar so it's best to take bets on when the import will complete.)


Restore Individual Emails (Step 3 above) 

Simply double-click the archived email on the server to open the messages in your default email program. 

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    Ed Twohey

    glad this is finally explained someplace. I see you have enjoyed your new outlook experiences with us.

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    Here's another option for managing archiving of mail. An AppleScript that emulates the auto archive feaure commonly found on Outlook Windows....more details here

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    Mike - I would also like to run an auto archive and following your link I downloaded and tried the AppleScript. 

    I received the following error message

    'Microsoft Outlook got an error: Can’t get item 1 of every exchange account. Invalid index.'

    Can you help? 

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    Ben Greiner

    Mike, thanks for sharing your script! Eileen, you might want to post this question to Mike's site.

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    Hi Ben

    Just an update, I've written a new Mac application for archiving in Outlook Mac 2011. Even supports real-time archiving to the cloud such as a gmail account for backing up your archives.

    You can read more about the tool here:

    You can download a demonstration version for free. It also offers site level licencing for larger roll outs.

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    Ben Greiner

    Thanks for the update Mike! (Yes, my thank you is only 6 months late. :)

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    Ethan Gold

    I was in the same boat and stuck with lost messages in outlook mac. Tried rebuilding, reinstalling outlook, downgrading outlook but all in vain. At last gave a try to third party application by the name Outlook Mac Database Recovery and it successfully read my emails from corrupted outlook identity. I extracted my data back and m a happy camper now.
    I feel anyone stuck with outlook mac issues should definitely give Outlook Mac Database Recovery a try: