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Inbox Magic

Telling people you're away is only half the battle. At the bottom of the OOO Assistant dialog box is the innocent little button Add Rule. Click it, and you can do magic (see Figure 1).

By creating a series of "rules," you can get Exchange to take care of business while you're taking care of a pina colada. Rules let you do tricks like these:

  • Forward messages from critical clients to the person covering the account while you're away.

  • Reply to designated messages with your personal template.

  • Summarily delete everything with references to a certain little blue pill in the subject or body.

Figure xxxFigure 1 Tell the Out of Office Assistant that you're headed out, create a rule or two to tell Exchange how to handle your mail, and leave your worries on the doorstep.

Suppose you've decided to pass on OOO. Even so, thanks to the Rules Wizard—which helps you to design rules from simple to elaborate for coping with incoming messages—you can still let Exchange deal with your mail while you nap on the beach (see Figure 2). Like OOO, the Rules Wizard lives on the Tools menu.


Note that if your system administrator hasn't enabled OOO to the Internet, the Rules Wizard still won't let you reach outside your internal network.

Figure xxxFigure 2 The Rules Wizard makes it easy to specify how to handle incoming mail.

Use rules to let Exchange do the heavy lifting while you laze around at the cabana, hoisting a cool one. Exchange can do an assortment of tasks such as these (see Figure 3):

  • Forward mail to internal recipients, according to all sorts of criteria

  • Sort mail into server folders as it arrives (a handy way to get mailing list traffic out of the way so you can see your business messages when you get back)

  • Delete or segregate the nasty stuff

Figure xxxFigure 3 Select from a variety of options—store the message in a special folder, fling it at someone else's inbox, drop the thing like a hot coal...

You can have 32KB worth of rules, which works out to about 40 rules (including any OOO rules), according to Microsoft Knowledge Base article 241325.


In the newly-minted Outlook 2003, the Rules Wizard becomes a Tools menu selection called Rules and Alerts, but it still can wave its wand and do the same magic as its wizardly predecessor.

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