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Posted on May 12th, 2008 by Tim Danton

Self-deleting sent emails

An email deluge - but how do you cope with itI’m not sure if it’s the worst thing about being editor of a national magazine or the best thing, but I get many, many emails from readers every day. Sometimes they’re nice; other times they’re not. And sometimes they’re quite simply useful – such as this one.

“Hi, I am looking for a program for deleting (my) sent emails over a short period of time. I have heard of such programs, but I do not know if there is one out yet/name of it.

“Ex: send an email to a person and have the message self delete over a X amount of days or hours (self set parameters). Maybe you or one of your colleague’s know. I appreciate your time and efforts.”

Now I didn’t know the answer to that one, but it forced me to do some digging and find out the answer. As ever, Outlook’s Help system is never one to give you a straight response when it can talk in riddles, but it’s all down to AutoArchiving.

Step 1: Right-click on the Sent Items folder

Step 2: Click Properties

Step 3: Select the AutoArchive tab

Step 4: Select the “Archive this folder using these settings” radio button, and then choose your settings as you desire.

Obviously, you can do exactly the same thing for any folder in Outlook.

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5 Responses to “ Self-deleting sent emails ”

  1. Tim Says:
    May 13th, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I think you’ve missed the point – your emailer wants them to self destruct on the other persons PC not on his own PC!

  2. Paul Ockenden Says:
    May 14th, 2008 at 7:34 am

    That’s what I thought, too.

  3. Tim Danton Says:
    May 14th, 2008 at 8:42 am

    You’re quite right… so does anyone know the answer?

  4. Paul Ockenden Says:
    May 14th, 2008 at 10:58 am

    With ‘open’ SMTP / RFC 822 style email there’s not a lot you can do – there’s no ‘time to read’ parameter, and even if there was there’s no guarantee that a client would obey it.

    Third party systems are available (e.g., but that’s obviously only suitable for email between a few trusted parties, rather than something like a B2C campaign.


  5. Simon Jones Says:
    May 15th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM) add-on for Windows and Office will let you set a whole host of restrictions on what the recipient can do with a document or email, including content expiration, but it requires patches to both Windows XP and Office on the sender’s and recipients’ machines and recipients need access to one of your servers which hosts the access keys.

    See and for details.

    Simon Jones
    Contributing Editor
    PC Pro Magazine


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