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How to: Manage your email using rules

Are you overwhelmed by the number of e-mail messages in your Inbox? Instead of constantly organizing an ever-growing number of messages manually, use the Rules Wizard to help you automatically process and organize your messages. After you use the Rules Wizard to create a rule, Outlook applies it when messages arrive in your Inbox, or when you send a message.

What is a rule?

In Microsoft Outlook, a rule is a set of conditions, actions, and exceptions that processes and organizes messages automatically and that is triggered by an event.
An action specifies what should be done with qualifying messages. You can select one, many, or no actions. For example, you can select delete it if you do not want to read messages that have the word "jokes" in the Subject line.
An exception specifies which messages will not be affected by the rule. You can select, one, many, or no exceptions. A rule is not applied to a message if any one of the exceptions you specify is met. For example, you can delete all messages with the word "jokes" in the Subject line, except those from your cousin (whose jokes you like).

What can I use rules for?

You can automatically:
  • Move messages to a particular folder based on who sent them.
  • Move certain kinds of messages, such as Out of Office messages, to another folder.
  • Delete messages in a conversation.

  • Flag messages from a particular person.

  • Set up a notification, such as a message or a sound, when important messages arrive.
  • Redirect a message to a person or to a distribution list.

  • Move messages to a particular folder based on your different accounts.
  • Assign categories to messages you send based on the contents of the messages.
  • Delay delivery of messages by a specified amount of time.
  • Start a program.

How can I make rules run more smoothly?

Order the sequence in which your rules operate

  • Order your rules with the following in mind: Rules running on the server, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, always operate first, followed by those running in Outlook on your computer.
  • Within these two categories, you can change the order in which your rules operate by moving them up or down in the Apply rules in the following order list in the Rules Wizard. Just select a rule, and then click Move Up or Move Down.
  • To apply rules only to the messages on your computer, select on this machine only as a condition.
  • To avoid multiple rules operating on the same message, especially if you don't want the bottom-most rule to prevail when multiple rules apply, select stop processing more rules as an action.

Avoid inadvertent errors when you create rules

  • To avoid mistyping, create rules based on a message. Open a message, and then on the Actions menu, click Create Rule. Many conditions and exceptions are filled in for you.
  • To test newly created rules, select Run this rule now on messages already in "Inbox".
  • To back up your rules by exporting them to an .rwz file, in the Rules Wizard dialog box (Tools menu, Rules Wizard command), click Options, and then click Export Rules. You can even import this file to another computer or to a laptop, so you don't have to recreate your rules and risk introducing errors in the process.

Speed up processing your rules

  • Avoid conditions and exceptions that search for words in the message body. Unless your e-mail messages are short, this search could take a long time.
  • Select with specific words in recipient's address or with specific words in sender's address as a condition instead of sent to people or distribution list or from people or distribution list. Searching for a specific name or word in the To or From field is faster than searching through distribution lists.  

Rules in action with some examples

Example 1- Managing messages if you have got more than 1 email account on the same PC

Scenario: You have got 2 email accounts one from blueyonder and 1 from burak.me.uk .You want to send emails from blueyonder to blueyonder folder and from burak.me.uk to burak.me.uk folder. To do this;

i )  We want to create two folders in the Inbox folder, right click to Inbox under All Mail Folders on the left menu.

   

 

ii)  Folders are created now we can start setting up our rules.

  • On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts
  • Click New Rule
  • Select "Start from a blank rule" option
  • Click Next
  • In Step 1: Select Actions Select boxes "on this machine only" and "through the specified account"
  • Click specified in Step 2 : Edit the rule description
  • Choose the account "burak.me.uk" then click OK
  • Click Next
  • In Step 1:  Select "move it to the specified folder"
  • Click specified then choose the folder that you have created burak.me.uk then click OK
  • Click next
  • Click next again
  • Specify the name of the rule ex: Burak.me.uk.rule
  • If you want to run the rule for the emails already in the inbox select the box "Run this rule now"
  • Click Finish
In images:

iii)  Repeat step ii for Blueyonder account

iv)  It is all sorted now. When you send & receive you will see the emails automatically going to relevant folders. If you have any difficulty getting this rule to succeed, please post your query in the forum.

Example 2 : Move your messages to a particular folder based on who sent them

Scenario :  You receive lots of emails from eBay and you want them to be delivered to a specified folder when you receive them without need of a click.

i)  We will do this in the quickest way instead of creating a new rule from Rules & Alerts window. Right click on the email which you want to setup a rule for then select Create Rule .

ii)  As seen on the picture above 1st select From, 2nd click on Select Folder, 3rd click OK .

iii)  Select "Run this rule now already in the current folder" then click OK. You are done. Next time when you receive emails from that specified contact they will go to the specified folder you have just chosen.

Example 3 : Move your messages to a particular folder based on domain or company name

Scenario : In the example 2 we sorted out emails from certain person or contact. We want all eBay emails altogether in the same folder regardless of email addresses they are sent through. Some of the eBay email addresses are member(at)ebay.co.uk, emailnotif(at)ebay.co.uk, SecondChanceOffer(at)ebay.co.uk, endofitem(at)ebay.co.uk, listconfirm(at)ebay.co.uk ... By using example 2 you must create rules for all different email addresses of eBay, do not worry there is a practical way of saving all those emails into the same folder with only one rule. By following the steps below you can create this rule

  • On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts
  • Click New Rule
  • Select "Start from a blank rule" option
  • Click Next
  • In Step 1: Select Actions Select boxes "with specific words in the sender's address"
  • Click specific words in Step 2 : Edit the rule description
  • Type @ebay.co.uk then click Add then click OK
  • Click Next
  • In Step 1:  Select "move it to the specified folder"
  • Click specified then choose the folder that you have created eBay then click OK
  • Click next
  • Click next again
  • Specify the name of the rule ex: All_Ebay_Emails
  • If you want to run the rule for the emails already in the inbox select the box "Run this rule now"
  • Click Finish

You are done. When you run the rule you can see all emails coming through ebay domain are going to eBay folder that you have created. After implementing the rule successfully you can easily copy the rule for all other domains. You only need to change specific words to e.g.: @company.com . It is that easy. If you have any difficulty having success with this rule, then please post your query in the forum.