How to use Outlook Rules

If your inbox is filled with plenty of emails and it gets difficult to have eyes on important ones, then you can use Outlook rules to add filters and labels to the emails to separate emails. Outlook rules present a great way to organize your emails and never miss any important emails. In this blog, we present a comprehensive guide on how to use Outlook rules and set up filters.

Setting Up Basic Rule

You can set up basic to complex rules in Outlook as per your needs. As a beginning to our guide, let’s first discuss how you can set up a basic rule in Outlook. Let’s assume you frequently receive emails from your manager and you want to separate them via putting them into a specific folder. To do that, follow the below steps:

  1. Right-click one of your manager’s emails, click “Rules”, and then click “Always Move Messages From”. Alternatively, you can go to the “Home” tab, click on “Rules” under the “Move” section, and then click “Always Move Messages From”.
  2. As you want to create a new separate folder, so you can click “New” and set up the folder. Afterward, you can select it and click “OK”.

This way, all your manager emails will go to that specific folder from now onwards.

Setting Up More Advanced Rule

The above one is just a basic and common rule that most Outlook users set, but there are other advanced rules that you can set. Suppose you receive a daily email from your employee that shows the product inventory status with the email subject mostly related to “Product Inventory Status”. But the same employee also sends you other types of emails too. So, you want to separate the product inventory emails from others. In this case, the above rule won’t work because you are looking for a specific email to separate not all the emails from that person.

To separate one particular type of email, you have to set up an advanced rule. Follow the below steps on how to do it:

  1. Select the email for which you want to set the rule, go to the “Home” tab, click “Rules”, and then click “Create Rule”.
  2. In the pop-up window, tick the “Subject contains” checkbox and type “Product Inventory Status”.
  3. If you don’t want to miss out on this email, then tick the “Display in the New Item Alert window”. You can also set up a specific sound for this email by ticking the “Play a selected sound” and picking the sound of your choice.
  4. If you want to move this type of email to a specific folder, then tick the “Move the item to folder” checkbox and select the folder where you want to move.

Once all done, click “OK”. A prompt may appear that says that this rule will run only in case Outlook is running. It is because if you have ticked the checkboxes shown in step 3, then that requires Outlook to run continuously. It means if you open Outlook on the web from another device, the rule won’t work. So, if you are still willing to proceed with those checkboxes, then click “OK”. This way, next time you receive the email about product inventory, it will pop up the alert, generate the sound, and put the email in its specific folder.

Manage Rules

Now that we have created two rules, it’s time to see how you can manage them. Go to the “Home” tab, click on “Rules” under the “Move” section, and then click “Manage Rules & Alters”. There you will see the two rules you recently created. If you click on any of the rules, you will see the “Rule description” section, which is basically the working code behind the rule. From there, you can change the name or folder if you want to update it with the new ones. In addition, the “Change Rule” option helps you to change different settings of the rule. You can even set high and low priority for the rule if you think they might overlay each other.

Setting Up Extra Advanced Rules

Outlook rules are meant to give you complete control over how you can filter your emails. That’s why you are set up simple rules as above or use the full potential of Outlook rules to set up extra advanced rules. For example, let’s assume that one of your company partners sends a newsletter monthly to all company-associated individuals about the new updates in the business field associated with your company. Assuming that these newsletters are not important to you and you would prefer to delete them automatically. The same person also sends other important emails, so you want to hear about them but want to delete the newsletter ones automatically. To set up such an advanced filter, follow the below steps:

  1. Go to the “Home” tab, click on “Rules”, and then click “Create Rule”.
  2. As the requirements are complex this time, so click on the “Advanced Options” button.
  3. It shows a list of checkboxes that presents different conditions that you want Outlook to check. You can read them and find the ones that fulfill your requirement. For the current case, we can tick the “From XYZ” checkbox. Afterward, click “Next”.
  4. It now asks what you want to do with the message. As our target is to delete the message, so tick the “delete it” checkbox. You can also tick multiple checkboxes. Afterward, click “Next”.
  5. Now, it asks you if there are any exceptions you want to include. As our target is to delete only the newsletter emails, so click on “except if my name is in the To or Cc box”. It is because when the person sends a newsletter, it is sent to all the company representatives. So, this field will easily allow other emails from the same person, while deleting the newsletter-related ones. Afterward, click “Next”.
  6. Give a name to the rule, tick the “Run this rule now on messages already in Inbox” checkbox if you want to apply the rule on existing messages. Once done, click “Finish”.

This way, you have successfully created an extra advanced rule. This is just an example to show how you can use the full capacity of Outlook rules.

Activate Rules

Once you have created some rules, you can easily activate/deactivate them as you like. To do that, go to the “Home” tab, click on “Rules”, and then click “Manage Rules & Alerts”. Now tick/un-tick the checkbox in front of the rule name to activate or deactivate the rule. Once done, click “OK”.

Export/Import Rules

If you bought a new computer or want to place the same rules on another computer, you can easily export/import them. To do that, go to the “Home” tab, click on “Rules”, and then click “Manage Rules & Alerts”. Click on “Options” and from there you can use the export/import options as you like.

Wrapping Up

Inboxes can sometimes become quite messy with unimportant emails, so it’s best to set up rules to organize them out automatically. Outlook has made the rule creation process convenient and easy to implement, as all it takes is just a few minutes and clicks to set up the rules perfectly.

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