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With the large quantity of mail that I receive every day it can be a chore to keep everything organized. I like to keep the most important mail in my inbox, and then filter everything else out into sub-folders for triaging later. To accomplish this, I make use of Outlook rules quite prolifically. Michael blogged before about how to use rules to manage meeting responses, but in this post I’ll show you how to use rules to move normal e-mails automatically.
Most of the time, I realize that a certain class of mail should be sorted somewhere together and I decide to make a rule on the spot. For example: I just signed up for a new distribution list, and when I got the first mail, I realized that I wanted to keep these mails out of my inbox and in a new folder. To do this quickly, I right-click the message in the message list, and select Create Rule… from the context menu.
You can also use the toolbar button at the top of the screen:
The following dialog pops up:
This dialog has the most popular reasons to file mail already listed, so hopefully one of these is the reason you want to create a rule (otherwise, the Advanced Options button will be really useful).
Since this is a rule for a distribution list, I’ll go ahead and select the Sent To field (which Outlook has already populated with the values from the message), and choose the name of the list that I want moved to a different folder. Note that I selected the Sent To field, and not the From field. Selecting the wrong field here is a common mistake; when mail gets sent to a distribution list, you create rules for it by putting the name of the list in the To field and not in the From field.
Sometimes, distribution lists will ask people who post to put a tag on the subject line (such as “FOOD:” or “SOCIAL:”) so, if I wanted to sort the mails based on that subject tag, I could also check that box and fill in the appropriate value. For now, knowing that it was sent to the list is enough.
I’ll also check the Move the item to folder box, and use the Select Folder button to make a new folder and select it. Then I press OK, and I’m done. Outlook will now move all of my future mail that matches the criteria I set to the new folder (or play a sound or Display a New Item Alert window, if that is what I chose).
This dialog is useful because it has only the most popular rule actions. There are plenty more available, and Advanced Options allows you to customize your rule more. Being a prolific rule user, Advanced options is an invaluable tool for me. But we’ll cover that dialog in a following blog post.
Find the rules that work for you. Think of this dialog as a set of building blocks: you can build whatever you want!
Hope this helps!
Derek Brown Software Design Engineer in Test
Its a nice feature, but needs a few more options. I am a var, with quite a lot of clients using outlook. The commonest treatment I've seen is one folder per client or supplier. This is laborious to achive with the above system as you create a rule for each direccion, rather than one for the domain. You need a 'From field contains' option to be able to say - When from field contains @microsoft.com', then file the email in folder MS. This does exist in the rule creation wizard and works well.
What this feature is really lacking is the option to select "Stop Processing More Rules". Without that, the dialog isn't useful. (Because if you don't set "Stop Processing More Rules" on all of your Outlook rules, the rules just don't work in the way you expect).
What is so frustrating to me is that I have to go into the Advanced options to turn off 'On This machine Only'. I frequently move my PST file from my laptop to my desktop, and the rules will only propogate if this checkbox is turned off.
I'm trying to set up a rule for a distribution list but I keep getting a message that this feature doesn't work for a "personal distribution list." How do I make the list not personal? Or does this mean the rule only works if I'm on Exchange Server and have Global Distribution Lists?
I would love the option to file emails after X days from my inbox. Is this in the works?
I would also like to hear about, what Jennifer asked. We would like an option about time period.
What I need is an easy way to manage rules. I have a couple of hundred rules and there is no easy way to sort rules, find rules set for a specific person, do search and replace. Each check box must be checked manually. You have to manage rules in a tiny little box, without any overview.
Is it possible to create a rule which rejects all incoming emails which have not been digitally signed? I think this is a very important use case that is not there.
Yes, you can create such rule. In Outlook, go to Tools/Rules and Alerts.
In the Rules and Alerts dialog, select New Rule.
In the New Rule dialog, select the “Check messages when they arrive” template.
In the conditions step, do not select any condition, click Next. A message will be displayed : “This rule will be applied to every message you receive. Is this correct?”. Click Yes.
In the action step, select the desired action – , you can choose to move it to the Deleted Items folder, Delete the message, or Permanently Delete the message. Click Next.
In the exception step, select the “except if it uses the form name form” exception. At this point in the lower area of the Rules Wizard dialog, click on the underlined “form name” section of the condition.
The Choose Form dialog will appear. Select “Application Forms” in the dropdown list at the top left of the dialog, then click on the “Digitally Signed Message” form, and click on the “Add” button. Click the “Close” button.
At this point the rule in the Rules Wizard dialog should read like this: Apply this rule after the message arrives
except if it uses the Digitally Signed Message form This should address your needs. -Alessio
Nice easy article! I wrote an article on creating an advanced microsoft outlook rule to shutdown your computer when you receive an email with a special subject line. Here is the link:
I am trying to move certain messages from my inbox to a designated folder. It's working, except that it leaves a copy of the message in the inbox. How do I stop this?
Joanne: A couple of things may be happening: 1) You selected "Move a COPY" instead of "MOVE" in the rule. Double check that. 2) It may also be that you have another rule (or more than one) that's interfering with this one, meaning that two things are happening to the same message. If neither of those seems to be the case, try this: select the checkbox "Stop Processing More Rules." If I've been completely unhelpful (hey it happens) try Microsoft Answers: answers.microsoft.com/.../outlook Hope this helps -- Annik (Outlook blog curator)