In this age of email and the internet, we tend to find our inbox can get clogged with a lot of email from various different sources. A great way of sorting through this content is using the built-in rules available within Microsoft Outlook to automatically sort your incoming mail messages into specified folders.
This particular function works really well if you receive regular emails from mailing lists, retail shops, and even your favourite website (like me!) and it allows you to store email from a particular sender in one location where you can read at your own leisure. This is also a great way of keeping a well-organised inbox.
In this example I want to setup Outlook so that it automatically moves any emails from iTunes to a specific folder in my Outlook profile.
To create a rule, follow these steps:
- Open Microsoft Outlook
- Firstly you need to locate an email within your Inbox which you would like to automatically move. Open the email and copy the senders email address located in the From field
TIP: Right mouse click on the address and select Copy
- From the Home tab on the Ribbon, locate the Move group of icons
- Click the Rules button and choose Manage Rules & Alerts
TIP: You can select Create Rule however the Manage Rules & Alert dialog box gives you more options on what you can do with your mail messages
- The Rules and Alerts dialog box will appear:
- Click the New Rule button
- The Rules Wizard will now begin
- The first screen displayed is Step 1: Select a template
- Outlook includes some pre-defined template rules that are already set up and allow you to customise the necessary options. This makes rule creation really quick and straight forward. If you want to create a rule from scratch you can still do that using the last two items listed under the Start from a blank rule category
- Whenever I demonstrate this feature to training participants I always say “The best way to understand rules is to read them like a story”. The bottom half of the dialog shows the Step 2: Edit the rule description. Here is where you can read the rule, just like a story and as you change or select options the story will grow.
- We are going to create our rule from scratch using a blank rule so select Apply rule on messages I receive and click Next
- Now you will see at the top of the wizard the question: Which condition do you want to check? Essentially Outlook needs to know what condition or criteria it needs to look for:
- Because we want to move any emails we receive from a specific sender to a folder within our Outlook profile, tick the box for the from people or public group option
- You will see the Step 2: Edit the rule description area at the bottom of the window has now added that criteria to our “story”
- Anytime you see words with a blue underline, exactly like a hyperlink, click on it because it allows you to specify that part of the rule
- Click on the words people or public group displayed in the Edit the rule description area
- The Rule Address dialog box will appear allowing you to select a person from your contact list or you can paste or type any email address into the From field at the bottom of the dialog box
- Right mouse click inside the From field and select Paste
- When you paste the email address ensure that the display name and any additional symbols are not accidentally included. E.g. When I select Paste, the full email display address of Apple <firstname.lastname@example.org> is inserted, I then have to manually remove the display name “Apple” and the greater than/less than symbols which are wrapped around the email address.
- Click OK
- Your rule should now be starting to take shape
- Click Next
- Now you will see at the top of the wizard the question: What do you want to do with the message?
- From the options available tick the box for Move it to a specified folder
- This option will now be added to your rule at the bottom of the window:
- Click the link for the word specified
- Now browse your folders and select the location you wish to move these particular email messages
TIP: If needed you can create a whole new folder by clicking the New button
- Click OK
- The rule is almost done
- Click Next
- Now you will see at the top of the wizard the question: Are there any exceptions?
- For this rule we won’t need to implement any exceptions so just click Next
- The final part of the rule will now ask you to specify a name for this rule and you can also specify a few other options:
- For the Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, make sure you give it a meaningful name such as Move iTunes emails
- You have the options to run the rule on email already in the Inbox, if you wish to do this just tick the checkbox
- Ensure the Turn on this rule box is selected so this rule will be enabled and applied to all new incoming email
- Click Finish and click OK on the Rules and Alerts window
- Your rule is now finished and will now be active for any new incoming emails
- When the next email arrives from the specified sender, Outlook will automatically move it to the folder you specified
Congratulations, you have created a rule to organise your Inbox! Be sure to check out my other Outlook post on how to automatically forward email messages to colleagues using rules or other Microsoft Outlook articles.