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The one trick I use to start my inbox with a clean slate every year

Are you that person whose inbox is always empty? Or maybe you have unread emails in the thousands staring you down every time you open up your account. A bulging inbox with little order is a stressful sight, especially if it’s full of annoying spam messages.

If spam has taken over, tap or click here for help cleaning up your email. Bottom line: A messy inbox makes finding specific messages a total struggle. You don’t have to grit your teeth and bear it — I’ve got just the trick you need.

If you’re ready to step into 2021 with a clean slate, I’ve got a quick and easy fix that works no matter what email provider you use.

Clear out your inbox

The trick is simple: Archive your inbox. You’ll be surprised at how effective this is at giving you back some digital headspace.

So, what is email archiving? Basically, this keeps a record of everything you’ve sent and received — so you’ll always have a copy of any of your messages and attachments — but they won’t be sitting in your inbox.

Sure, you can file all your emails away into carefully sorted folders, but what are the chances you’re actually going to keep up with that level of organization? Archiving is a great gift to give yourself going into the new year. Plus, it’s an easy New Year’s Resolution to keep. Just click a few buttons, and your life is already easier!

Whether you use Gmail, Yahoo or Microsoft Outlook, here’s your step-by-step guide for fighting clutter in your email inbox.

Follow these steps to archive in Gmail

First, open up your Gmail account on a computer, and click the Inbox folder on the left side.

Above your emails, there’s an empty checkbox. Click the small arrow next to it, and choose All. This selects only the conversations visible on the screen.

To select all your emails, click Select all (number) conversations in Inbox. Then hit the Archive icon (folder with a downward pointing arrow).

Gmail will take some time to process your request. Be patient. You may have to do this step a few times to get everything.

Once you’ve archived a message, you can hit All Mail to the left, right under Inbox and your other email folders to find it. Though, your best bet is searching by a term you know was in the email or by the sender.

Of course, you can also create specific folders in Gmail, which is a great way to stay organized. Tap or click here for five of my favorite shortcuts that will change the way you manage your email.

Got a Yahoo email? Here’s what to do

Yahoo Mail has a handy feature just for this purpose. Hold your mouse over Inbox in the left panel, and click the dropdown arrow that appears. From the options, choose Clean your Inbox.

A pop-up window will appear. Choose Archive emails. Be warned, this might take a while.

Want to take a message out of the archive? Open the Archive folder, tap on the email you want and select Restore to Inbox.

How to archive emails in Microsoft Outlook

Unlike Gmail and Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook doesn’t put archived messages into a separate folder. Instead, they’ll go straight to a data file you can access whenever you want.

Select File > Cleanup Tools > Archive, then hit Archive this folder and all subfolders. Choose the folder you want to archive. In this case, your inbox.

Under Archive items older than, enter your date. For example, you may want to archive everything before 2012. Then, check the box that says Include items with “Do not AutoArchive.” Click OK, and you’re good to go.

After this, the archive will run. You’ll see emails disappear from your inbox and subfolders. Now they’ll be under the Archives heading. How convenient!

Your inbox should be clean as a whistle

Now that you know my secret, your inbox is sure to look a whole lot cleaner to start the new year. Worried you missed something? Here’s my tip: If it’s really important, that person will email you again.

As a side note, remember that even if you archive emails, they can be subpoenaed for legal cases. We don’t give legal advice, so it’s best to consult a lawyer if you have any questions about this.

Here’s another digital to-do you should cross off your list: Make sure your email address isn’t being used to spread malware. Tap or click here to find out if your email is being used for spam.

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