I recently consulted an Entourage 2004 user who complained that his email program was unresponsive and unstable. He said that he frequently has to Force Quit Entourage to regain control of his Mac. In analyzing his situation, I learned that his email program was managing more than 80,000 messages and that the size of his Entourage Database exceeded 8.5 gigabytes. While Entourage 2004 doesn’t impose a maximum limit on file size, most users agree that a leaner database will usually reduce the likelihood of major problems and improve overall performance.
We worked out a plan where I would split his Entourage database into two distinct identities that could be switched at will: one identity would contain messages prior to 2006 and another (his Main Identity) would include more recent data from 2006 and 2007. These instructions are detailed below:
1). In Entourage 2004, click the down arrow next to the New button in the toolbar. Choose Custom View to create a new folder that will contain old messages selected by date criteria.
2). In the Edit Custom View window, complete the Name field (suggestion: “archive”). In the Item Types section, add a check mark next to Messages and leave the other boxes unchecked. To save both time and disk space, leave the “Include Deleted Items” box unchecked. In the Criteria section, click the drop-down menu labeled “Subject” and choose “Date sent” from the list of available options. In the adjacent menu, choose “is greater than” and enter the number of days back you want to use as a cutoff date. Click OK to begin processing.
3). Click the new folder called archive (or, whatever you named it in Step #2 above). The messages that fit your date criteria will begin to populate the view window on the right. At this point, Entourage may become unresponsive while it is figuring out which messages should be displayed in the custom view folder. When you can reassert control over Entourage, drag the archive folder to the Desktop to create a backup (.mbox) file. The backup procedure may take some time. BE PATIENT! Let the process complete, then proceed to Step #4.
4). From the Entourage menu, choose Switch Identity.
5). Click the New button and enter a name (suggestion: archive) in the Identity name window. Click OK to create the identity.
6). In the Entourage Setup Assistant window, select the radio button entitled, “I want to start using Entourage without importing anything,” then click the red circle in the upper left corner to dismiss the setup assistant.
7). Hide Entourage temporarily using the Command-H shortcut.
8). Double-click the archive.mbox file to open a Entourage dialog window that will ask whether you want to import the messages into a new folder. Click the Import button to begin importing.
9). Entourage will not be responsive to key commands during the import process. When the procedure completes, you will see your old messages stored in a new folder below your Inbox called “Archive messages.” These messages may also appear in subfolders under Mail Views.
10). To switch back to your current identity, select Switch Identity from the Entourage menu and then choose Main Identity from the list.