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Managing Incoming Messages with Rules

How would you like to set a few rules for your email messages, such as telling all the emails from a certain friend to go jump in a Boring folder, or put all the messages from your boss into a Do This Now folder? You can set rules in Outlook that help you sort through your email and put them in special locations, among other actions. Rules can help you move, copy, delete, reply to, forward, and redirect your email. You can choose from Outlook’s preset rules or create brand new ones. Are you ready to lay down the law? Let’s break out the rule book.

You can build rules with help from Outlook’s Rules Wizard, a step-by-step process for creating a rule (click the Advanced Options button in the Create Rule dialog box to summon the wizard for help). However, one of the easiest ways to build a rule is to grab an example of an existing message you want to create a rule for, such as an email from a certain person that you always want routed to a certain folder, and build on it. With the Mail module displayed, follow these steps:

  1. Select the message you want to turn into a rule.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click Rules (see Figure 5.10).

    FIGURE 5.10

    FIGURE 5.10 Activate the Rules menu to find the Create Rule command.

  4. Click Create Rule to open the Create Rule dialog box, shown in Figure 5.11.

    FIGURE 5.11

    FIGURE 5.11 The Create Rule dialog box is the place to set criteria for a message rule.

  5. Use the conditions check boxes to set the criteria for the email. You can specify messages from that particular sender, identify subject matter to recognize, or who the message was originally sent to, for example.
  6. Under the Do the Following group, choose what you want Outlook to do when it encounters these same message types in the future, such as moving them to a specified folder.
  7. Click OK and the rule is set for any incoming messages resembling the criteria you specified.
  8. Outlook asks if you want to run the rule immediately. Click the check box and click OK to do so, or click OK to exit without running the rule yet.

You can manage any rules you create with a little help from the Rules and Alerts dialog box, shown in Figure 5.12. To find your way to this box, click the Rules drop-down arrow on the Home tab and choose Manage Rules and Alerts. You can also access the box through Outlook’s Backstage view; click the File tab, click Info, and then click Manage Rules and Alerts.

FIGURE 5.12

FIGURE 5.12 Manage your rules with the Rules and Alerts dialog box.

  • To turn off a rule, deselect its check box.
  • To remove a rule, select it and click the Delete button.
  • To edit a rule, select it and choose Change Rule, Edit Rule Settings.
  • To add a new rule, click New Rule.

When you finish with rules, click OK to exit the dialog box.

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