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Outlook.com introduces the most sophisticated rules in webmail

When it comes to getting organized, Outlook.com has you covered. Starting today, we are releasing Advanced Rules and three other features, all to help you keep your inbox in top shape and make it even easier to see the email that matters to you.

The average person has 184 emails in their inbox, and receives 28 emails each day.* This can be a lot to handle, so helping you get to the email you care about is one of our top priorities. Outlook.com already has a number of features to help you do this. For example, Sweep (one of our most popular) helps you quickly delete multiple unwanted emails.

The following new features, which are rolling out today, build on our commitment to give your inbox new and better ways to do the heavy lifting and help you save time.

Advanced Rules

With Advanced Rules, you now have more control over how your emails are sorted, filed or bumped to the top of your inbox. You can create multi-condition and multi-action rules and set your inbox to organize itself automatically. Advanced Rules allow you to combine your existing rules together and customize them to suit you. We’ve included a number of optional conditions that are unique to Outlook.com, including time constraints, email tallying, checking read/unread state of emails, and checking if the sender is a contact you know.

Here’s an example of an Advanced Rule:

If an unread email is older than 3 days and is from one of your contacts, mark it as important and flag it.

This rule brings any emails you might have missed, from real people you know, to the top of your inbox.

Create rule page

Undo

We all make mistakes. Billions of emails in Outlook.com are moved from one folder to another every week. Occasionally, you’ll drop an email into the wrong folder or hit Delete by accident. Now it’s even easier to undo mistakes in range of commands—delete, categorize, flag, mark as junk, or move—for one email or a whole group. Just click the undo button, or type Ctrl+Z, to bring them right back.

Undo button

In-line reply

Outlook.com customers use the Reply button almost 8 million times a day. With in-line reply, you can directly respond to an email thread without launching a new view. In-line reply can help you save time, and track your conversations more easily.

In-line reply

More personal messaging

One thing we heard from customers was that starting a chat session with friends wasn’t as easy to find as it could be, so we’ve made several improvements to the experience:

  • Find recent conversations and other contacts you can chat with in the bottom left of your inbox. One click will launch you straight into a conversation with them.
  • If you’re chatting with a friend on one service, but want to continue the talk on another service, now you can switch over from right inside the chat session.

Chat switch

  • You can now browse your People by filtering what service they’re using (Skype, Facebook etc.). You can even see who’s currently available–Icons will now appear alongside names, so you know who’s able to Video, Call or just chat.

Contacts switch

These improvements will be rolling out to our customers in the next few weeks, so if you don’t have access to them yet, check back again soon. Give them a try and let us know what you think, by tweeting to @Outlook or leaving a comment below.

—Mike Schackwitz, Principal Director of Program Management, Outlook.com

*Both studies conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. (www.radicati.com)

 

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41 comments
  1. The features are awesome.. nice update. However, can you please include calling to landline or mobile directly from web mail i.e. outlook.com ?

    • @harshjs – I’m glad you like the new features. We’re always looking for feedback so thank you for the calling suggestion.

  2. Awesome! This “undo” option is a thing I was really missing.
    I don’t think I have any other reason to go back to Gmail.

  3. Nice features. But what many users are lamenting that with ActiveSync Outlook.com/Outlook 2013 is unable to synchronize the reply state? There is no Reply/Forward State sync both ways. This means when users use outlook.com they don’t not know if they replied or forwarded an email if they answer is with Outlook.com. Is this going to work with EAS in future?

    • I have nothing to share on future updates but we’re always looking for ways to improve the service, so thank you for the feedback, David.

      • Hi James,

        thank you very much for your reply! Are you able to get in touch with the development-team of outlook.com to discuss this case. I would be so thankful if this “bug” would be fixed or the feature would be added!

        David

        • Absolutely! I’ll be passing all feedback to our engineering team.

          • Thank you! This would be so great if this would work.

  4. The advanced rules feature is something I’ve been looking forward to.

    As a Windows Live Domains user, I’m sad that I am going to be forced to move to the Office 365 platform. I much prefer the simplicity of the Outlook.com interface over the O365 Outlook Web App. I would even pay to continue with Windows Live Domains instead of Office 365.

  5. Have you fixed the incredibly annoying behaviour of the outlook.com IE window popping up when you receive a new skype message ? this has been going on for a month or so and it makes it completely unusable.
    When you receive a skype message, IE pops up on the foreground disturbing whatever you are doing.
    Please fix !

  6. 4 updates, but still missing a basic request from one of their most populated Threads … Ability to “add photos to contacts”.

    This is the last big feature that has been keeping me from switching from Gmail.

  7. Advanced rules are brilliant, thank you. When will we be able to save contact or “People” avatars/photos without linking to external services? I want to take a photo of a person on my Android phone and save it to their contact record which syncs with Outlook.com via EAS.

  8. Great updates, but please look into taking In-Line reply a step further. Often times I have to refer to another contact’s email and to do that I have to switch from my current reply draft and refer to it. I know I can always open another tab for Outlook but it would be more convenient if we didn’t need to switch at all. Gmail opens a separate window within the tab for composing and I find that extremely convenient.

    The Skype implementation is great but it is also troublesome for a lot of users. I find it extremely annoying when I receive a call in Outlook.com in the middle of composing an email. If I set status to invisible in Outlook, then the desktop application also changes to invisible (instead of Busy).

    It’s possible to unlink Skype and Outlook, but I can’t do it cause my Skype was hacked over 4 years ago but has been recovered since. However when I try to unlink it, I get an error and tech support wants me to verify details from 2008 before they unrestrict my account. I have no way of recalling those info, if I had known there would be such annoyances with linking it in the first place, then I would not have done it.

    • PS: I just signed up and the password email was in my Outlook Junk mail.

  9. UNDO SEND.

    Do this and it will be perfect.

    Oh, and how about adding the ‘swooooosh’ sound like Apple mail does? You know, the mail winds up and sends, and you get whooooooooosh.

    Cool.

    • Yea undo would be great could. I’ve noticed errors so many times right after hitting send. A configurable delay in sending would be great.

  10. i like the update cant wait for the update to be released but outlook.com team what making outlook.com fit more into the mobile browser on ios devices and and they could work on making a better recover system like what gmail has more better i just like microsoft email service now

  11. Now can we PLEASE just have the option to decide the order of threaded conversations? I prefer to have messages in chronological order from oldest to newest (opposite of current default). Seems like an easy option to allow people to switch.

  12. I’d like to see in Outlook.com (only because: infrastructure first), and then on Windows Phone, the ability for Cortana to take a recent contact in the call log I’ve just entered data for, and make an appointment out of it. She would fill in the Subject with the name of the contact, and then fill in the Location with the address I just entered for the contact. She would ask for the time and date. It would be good if I could specify a default reminder time for appointments that would propagate everywhere I’m logged in (2 computers and my phone).

  13. Great features

    I’m waiting for three things
    - a way to schedule an email
    - a snooze feature
    - the ability to transform an email into a task

    • Like Mailbox :D It is very interesting

  14. The advanced rules feature is awesome. Please consider the following suggestions:

    1 – Reading pane is really convenient, except that after deleting/moving a message the next message is automatically shown and that one gets marked as read. When using the reading pane, automatically marking the next message as read isn’t convenient. Therefore i would like to suggest the following: Add ‘Show a message only after I select it after deleting/moving a message’ (like the already existing option for Reading Pane ‘When you first open your inbox or another folder, set the reading pane to: Show a message only after I select it’)
    2 – Add a Format Painter feature to the ‘toolbar’ of the composing/reply pane
    3 – The option to toggle between “Reply” and “Reply All” as the default option is convenient, but please add a toggle to switch between reply/reply all/forward *after* having started to reply
    4 – Add a snooze option for messages so you can choose when a message reappears in your inbox (e.g. at noon,, this evening, tomorrow, this weekend, next week, in a month, “select a date”) instead of leaving messages unread in my inbox, so that I know that I still need to act on them
    5 – Add ability to save attachments directly to SkyDrive
    6 – Enable dragging and dropping files to save them locally
    7 – Multiple (custom) signatures according to the send-as address. E.g. if I want to send email from my outlook.com address, it should use my outlook.com signature. If I send email with my aggregated address, it should use that signature.
    8 – Notification (visually and maybe by sound as well) when new mail arrives like Outlook desktop notification (sender and subject), even when no browser is currently running. Now you only see Outlook (#) – x@outlook.com or when pinned to taskbar and IE window is opened, the number of new messages (as an overlay over the outlook.com icon)
    9 – Option to request a Read Receipt
    10 – Enable continuous (infinite) scrolling though the messages list (like Office Outlook), instead of needing to click on next / back.

    Keep up the good work. Thanks in advance!

  15. @ronaldt I would add

    - Notification for coming appointments in the Calendar, just like on OWA

  16. What about sending from my own smtp server? Gmail does this so I can use my own domain name, meaning my IP matches my DNS so that is doesn’t flag up to the spam trap.

  17. The email service is taking a very interesting way, the only thing I miss are customized for use in contacts, for example, in Brazil we have many operators field, and I know that I’m calling a person of the same operator I change the field “phone number” by the carrier, it is very important to us :) Think about this setting ;)

  18. Instead of replying to everyone separately, I wanted to add a general note that we are listening to all the feedback you leave here – so thank you!

  19. Sweep should do more than simply delete messages. Sweep should also allow all the same features it does, but include a move action as well as a delete. It should also allow specifying an arbitrary time length instead of just “older than 10 days”. Allow the user to specify the length of time. It should also include instead of just the sender’s address, sweeping the sender’s domain (with wildcards), so I can say “For all email from *.ru delete all from Inbox and block future email”. That would be “sophisticated”.

    • Brian, we do have some of this. If you select a message and click “Move to”, the option at the bottom is Move All From. This is move version of Sweep. You will be able to do a number of the customizations you want in the new versions that is rolling out now.

  20. I’m an AOL mail user. I’m getting those “Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: # that mail is not currently available” messages. The email is identified by its # (8, 690, and 1782, for example). I get 8 of these messages for 8 different emails each time Outlook refreshes. Is there a way to use advance search to find the offending emails so that I can delete them? Please!

  21. Finally I can make some useful rules in outlook.com, but may be I’m expecting too much about the undo feature. Please, please, please, give me something similar to Gmail “undo send” feature, this feature in Gmail saved my life many many times and I just need this before I completely switch to outlook.com.

    By the way, please allow us to define different signatures for different “send as” address. I’m mixing my personal and work email in one single outlook account, when sending email using different email address, I really need a different signature for that.

    Thank you outlook team, keep up the good work! :D

  22. When will these changes roll out in India?

    • These changes will be rolling out to all customers, worldwide, in the next few weeks.

  23. Currently, one cannot make a forwarding rule in Outlook.com that will use your contacts, particularly your groups, as the forwarding address. Currently, the address must be name@domain. I hope the “sophisticated” rule engine will allow access to contacts on rules and that specifying more than one forwarding rule will be possible.

  24. I’d also like to see the ability to specify a list of recipients, whether contacts or manually entered addresses, in the “Forward to” box of the forwarding rule.

  25. Great new features! Thanks for continually updating! If you could look at making it easier to get to OneDrive for Business within Office 365 web app and iPad app.. that would be great! tons of clicks and complication is pushing my users to use Google Docs instead of OneDrive we provide them… :-(

  26. 1. Yahoo and AOL contacts should be added to messenger.
    2. A windows icon could be added to the top right corner which would display Microsoft related services e.g. Bing, MSN, Microsoft Store etc.
    3. Color coded categories

  27. Not to ask a silly question, is there anything required to be done to make these new features available?

    I visited my outlook.com account today and don’t see any of the features mentioned.

    Cheers Gareth

    • It’s not a silly question – nothing needs to be done to make these features available. They are rolling out to all customers gradually, and if you don’t have them yet, they will be showing up in the next few weeks.

  28. This is a very nice interface.

    I like the Advanced Rules but the matching is too restrictive. For example there is only “Subject contains” not “Subject starts with” or “Subject ends with”.

    Also I cannot create a “Subject contains” rule with certain characters such as asterisk.

    Extending the advanced rules with these (and any other good ideas!) would be very welcome.

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