IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Managing UW Deskmail Email Storage Space

Service notice: Deskmail (aka UW Email, Alpine, Pine) — the UW’s legacy email system — will be retired by the end of 2018. View timeline and details.


IMPORTANT: The information on this page is valid for the UW Deskmail Email Account.

This page does not apply to UW G Suite, UW Exchange, or email services offered by departments (e.g., that are not managed by UW-IT. Furthermore, it does not cover storage usage for services such as the UW Web Publishing Service.

  • If you read email using any of the Alpine email software programs (Web Alpine, Unix Alpine, PC-Alpine) then you are using the UW Deskmail system.
  • You can determine if you are using UW Deskmail by checking the Email Forwarding page of the “Manage Your UW NetID Resources” dashboard. If you are using UW Deskmail, the page will show a checked radio button to the left of “Forward to UW Deskmail”.

Getting back under the email storage quota

Email over quota system and notices

When your email service storage usage exceeds your allocated storage quota, you will receive a warning message via email with the subject line:

“ALERT: Your UW Email will be shut off unless you act!”

If your email service quota remains over quota for 7 days or your email service usage exceeds your quota by 150%, then email delivery will stop. Email will be returned to sender and you will receive a notice with the Subject:


When you clear sufficient space, email delivery will resume and the next email message that arrives will trigger an email notice with the subject line:

“Your UW account is back under quota for storage (disk) space!”

Clearing email storage space

  1. StepsActions
  2. Determine what is taking up space using the Storage Space Usage viewer. It will display your current storage quota and usage as well as a list of your email folders in descending order by size.
  3. Open your email software, find and open the largest folders, and then sort each folder by size to see the largest messages (usually those with attachments).
  4. Delete what you can. This process varies depending on the email software that you use to read mail. Consult the help for your email software, but most email software uses one of two methods:
    • Mark messages for deletion then expunge them (some software expunges email when you exit the email software).
    • or
    • Delete messages; then empty the Trash, Deleted Items, or Deleted Messages folder.

    Then exit your email software and turn off any mobile device configured to read your email. That enables Deskmail to reconcile any files marked for deletion. Once reconciled, the quota system can update your changes. If folders are locked by email software or a Smartphone application, then changes you make will probably not result in reducing your usage. If your software uses a Trash folder your usage may even rise!

    TIP: If you are using Web Alpine use the “Sign out” icon at the upper right to exit email; if you click the “X” at the upper right corner then the Web browser will close but the email connection may persist such that quotas may not update.

  5. Return to the Storage Space Usage Viewer and click “UPDATE” to force the system to update your storage usage. If you do not see changes in your storage usage, then make sure you have emptied the Trash folders and/or expunged messages that you have marked for deletion and exited your email software and turned off your Smartphone to release the locks on folders so that the folders sizes can be updated.
  6. The next incoming email message should trigger the delivery of an email notification from help with the subject line:

    “Your UW account is back under quota for storage (disk) space!”

  7. If the process fails, the UW Information Technology Service Center is available to help.

Adjusting your email storage space or purchasing more

You can adjust your email storage space to the maximum entitlement or purchase additional storage space online using a link from the Your Usage of UW Email and File Storage Space page or from a link on the Manage Your UW NetID Resources page.

Archiving email

You may want to create a copy of email folders on your local desktop and then delete them from your email service to save space. Remember that if the personal computer to which you archive your folder is not backed up, you risk losing the folders. Some email software (such as Web Alpine) will let you “Export” a copy of your folder. Others (e.g., Thunderbird) will let you create local folders as copies of your server folders.

  • Web Alpine — From the “View/Manage folders” screen, select a folder then, at the top under “More Actions” choose “Export Email from Folder”. This will download the folder to your desktop computer. You can later import the folder if you need it. Do not make changes to the exported folder with an editor, as that may make your copy unreadable by Web Alpine.

    TIP: To export your INBOX, first select all the messages; then at the top of the menu select “COPY” and “To Folder”. Choose a new unique folder name, for example, “copy-of-inbox”. Once that folder has been populated with the contents of your INBOX it can then be highlighted in the list of folders on the “View/Manage folders” screen and exported to your desktop. After you have exported a folder, you can then select and delete the messages you have downloaded. Be sure to empty the trash and click “Sign out” so the quota system can update.

  • UNIX Alpine and PC-Alpine — Open any folder, select messages (;) then apply (a) export (e). This will create a desktop folder if you use PC-Alpine. It will create a folder on the Homer or Dante file system if you use UNIX Alpine. You can then download the copy on Homer or Dante to your desktop using secure file transfer software such as SFTP or WinSCP. Set the download options to “binary” to preserve special characters in the exported email file.
  • Desktop email software — This varies by the desktop email software you are using. Most will let you create local folders on your desktop. You can then select messages to drag and drop from the server folders to the local folders.

    TIP: Do NOT drag folders from the server to the desktop; this may destroy both copies!

Getting help

  • How to delete and expunge email: See the help section for your email software or try a Web Search using Google, Bing, or other Web search tool to find help and tips. Your local departmental computer support staff may also be your best resource.