Like many, I'm locked into using Exchange server emails for work via Outlook on Windows XP at my work place.

In my case there is absolutely no opportunity to use a different client at all ever.

Is there a way to permanently delete emails while I'm away on leave?

By using Rules and Alerts, I found that the permanent deletion is a client-side only rule, which won't work while I'm away.

  • 1
    Just out of curiosity: Why is it so important to permanently delete the mail right away? Why not just delete them when you're back? Or just have your mailbox deactivated while you're away? Also, won't you need some of the mails when you are back?
    – sleske
    Sep 6, 2015 at 22:52
  • 1
    Because my inbox has a size limit and when the hard limit is reached I can no longer receive mail.
    – Lisa
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:29
  • 1
    Thanks for the reply, and nice that you're still around :-). From what you write, that frankly looks more like a workplace problem. If the hard limit makes you lose mail, that's something your sysadmin or boss should address. Either the mail really is important, then you need more space - or it is spam or stupid newsletters, then they should help you to filter/delete incoming mail (maybe install a server-side spam filter, or whatever). Just tellling you to read your email, but not giving you enough space is not gonna work.
    – sleske
    Feb 13, 2019 at 5:56

5 Answers 5


Short answer: Nope -- In Outlook/Exchange land, permanent deletes are client-side only.

Possible workaround:

If you want to do it without leaving you Outlook open, you'd probably need to set up a regular (server-side) Delete rule in Outlook, and then write a script (say with Powershell) to empty your Deleted Items folder.

This script would need to be scheduled to occasionally run on the Exchange server itself (or from a workstation that's on while you're away and has remote management access to the Exchange server).


You could set a retention policy that automatically deletes messages in the Deleted Items folder or an alternate folder if you move the messages there.

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    This is an answer that does work. I'm using it myself after coming across the same problem. The rule is applied on the Exchange server and runs without anyone needing to log in. Is there a problem with answering old questions?
    – Dan Buhler
    Sep 8, 2015 at 5:59

I am using outlook 2016 and came here to find that it is not possible; however I then continued to proceed with my rule to send certain items to the deleted items and on 2016 there is now an option to then permanently delete items after sending to deleted items.

Step 1 - select conditions

Step 1 - select actions - when selecting to move to deleted items folder the option became available to tick for permanently delete.

  • Thank you very much. I'm not sure if I should change this to the accepted answer?
    – Lisa
    Jul 26, 2016 at 7:06
  • "Step 2"? Is this setting within Outlook or the Office 365 portal? Please clarify Apr 10, 2019 at 23:18

Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 is unfortunately correct: there's no way to set up a rule that will permanently delete an email while Outlook is not running. Your options are either a) create a client-side rule in Outlook that will process all the permanent deletions at once when you next open it, on your return (prior to which, your inbox will fill up with crud), or b) create a server-side rule, via Outlook Web Access, that will delete those emails so that, when you next open Outlook, they will be in your 'Deleted Items' folder. The latter is likely preferable here.

Note: I realize you said "there is absolutely no opportunity to use a different client at all ever", but it's unclear whether that includes the web-based version of Outlook Web Access (since, after all, that's still Outlook). OWA comes with Microsoft Exchange and while I'm sure it's possible that there are organizations out there that use Exchange but do not implement OWA, I've yet to come across one.


You can do it from accessing your outlook account through internet without the client application, using simple browser also called as outlook web app. You might be having webmail access to your outlook account, as the new mails received and some of the mails in inbox are stored at the server of your organisation, which gets auto deleted when you dont archive it.

So, your client machine accesses that account and retrieves the mails and other settings from the organisation's server and also gets the new mails if any received when you were offline.

So if you delete any mail, by login into webmail account, and if you delete any mail from there then the mail is permanently deleted.Additionally you have to ensure that the mail is deleted from the "Deleted Items" folder.

P.S :

  1. This will only work for the mails which are not archived in your local client machine.

  2. If you have webmail account login link.

  • Thanks for the answer but I was very explicit that "there is absolutely no opportunity to use a different client at all ever" and that includes a web client.
    – Lisa
    Jul 8, 2013 at 1:00

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