How to Reduce Outlook Memory Usage

One of the major issues most users have with Outlook is the fact that it gets really slow and eats up a lot of memory on their systems. I have a 1.5 GB Outlook file, but Outlook runs fast and doesn’t hog all the resources on my computer! Why?

Well, it’s because I optimize my Outlook by doing a few things to make sure it stays clean and sharp. Instead of dealing with Outlook crashes, crazy error messages, memory hogging or waiting several minutes for Outlook to load, why not follow my advice below to make Outlook fast and responsive.

outlook memory hog

One thing you want to understand about Outlook is that it’s completely run from a database. All your emails, tasks, calendar items, business contacts, etc are stored in a database file. To reduce memory usage and make Outlook fast, follow these pointers:

Rule 1. Firstly, make sure you have AutoArchive turned on in Outlook. You’re probably never going to look at those emails from 5 years ago again are you! Instead of having thousands of emails in your Inbox, AutoArchive will move the older one to a new PST file and keep your current PST file slim.

If you don’t want to do that, at least move all older emails to another folder so that Outlook does not have to load thousands of emails every time it comes to the Inbox, thus causing higher memory usage.

Rule 2. Make sure you are only using essential add-ons for Outlook. A lot of programs love to install add-ons to Outlook automatically, such as Adobe, Xobni and screen capture software. Even my notes application, Evernote, installed it’s own add-on to Outlook.

If you don’t use them, get rid of them! They have to be loaded into memory when Outlook is started and they make the program slower also.

Rule 3. Outlook comes bundled with the Speech and Handwriting Recognition features that are a part of Windows. If you don’t use this, disable it as it’ll not load every time Outlook starts.

You can go to Control Panel, Date Time Language and Regional Options, click on Languages tab, then Details, and under Installed Services, remove Speech Recognition. On the Advanced tab, click Turn off advanced text services.

Rule 4. If you are running Outlook 2003, you should minimize Outlook every once in a while. Why? Apparently, if you just leave the main window up all the time, it constantly takes up more memory.

The memory is only released when the program is minimized. Weird huh! So minimizing the program will help reduce the amount of memory Outlook uses.

Rule 5. For some reason, people forget about their spam and trash folders. Empty them out! Someone like me gets hundreds of spam emails a day! That’s all stored in the Outlook database and slows it down. Empty your spam folder and your trash folder often.

Rule 6. Compact your PST file every once in a while. You can do that by going to File, then Data Management. Next click on the PST file and choose Settings. Then click the Compact Now button.

Outlook will do this also in the background, but only runs when your computer is Idle and Outlook is open. Sometimes this situation never comes up, so it’s good to do it once in a while.

Hopefully, these actions will reduce your Outlook memory footprint! Also, make sure you install the latest service packs for Office as these tend to help with performance and memory leak issues! Enjoy!

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Comments [2]

  1. Hi Aseem,

    I created a utility called AutoMinimizeOutlook.exe that will minimize inactive Outlook windows (every 60 seconds by default). This helps to work around the high-memory-usage issue in Outlook 2003.
    http://jonaquino.blogspot.com/2009/11/autominimiz

    Jon

  2. Alkis says:

    Aseem, this post has been very helpful. By only following rules 3 and 4, I have already gained 140'000kb of memory usage. Many thanks!

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