Outlook Rules: Do things automatically

Outlook rules allow you to automatically process emails as they are received or sent and then perform actions in Outlook if the messages meet a set criteria. One common use for rules is to move emails from particular people to a specific folder outside of the inbox.

Outlook Rules are made up of three main settings. The first setting is the criteria a message should meet for the action to take place, the second setting is the action itself, as in, what should happen when the email is received or sent, and the third setting is the exceptions; are there any circumstances where the rule shouldn’t trigger the action even when the message matches the criteria. As an example, in this article we will create a rule that will move any emails with the word “unsubscribe” in the body of the email to a special folder, unless the email has “RE:” in the subject, which could indicate the message is a reply to a message you have sent. Emails with the word “unsubscribe” in them are usually marketing emails, so this will help keep your inbox clear.

Go to the Home tab in Outlook and click the Rules dropdown list and select “Manage Rules & Alerts”. Click the “New Rule” button and then select “Apply rule on messages I receive” from the “Start from a blank rule” section. Click the Next button and the list of conditions or criteria will open, which is the first setting for this rule.

Tick the “With specific words in the body” option and then click the blue underlined words in the Step 2 box. Type the word “unsubscribe” in the box and click the add button, then the OK button. Click the Next button to move to the next setting, which is the action we want to take, and tick the “move it to the specified folder” option.

In the step 2 box, click the underlined word to select the folder you want to move these emails to. If you don’t already have a folder, you can create one clicking the New button. Click the next button to set the exceptions. Tick the “With specific words in the subject” option and click the blue underlined “specific words” link in the box below.

Type the word “RE:” in the box, click the add button and then the OK button. Now click the Finish button and this rule will be active. By going back to the “Manage Rules & Alerts” window, you can see the rules you have created and edit them by double clicking the rule, or delete them by selecting the rule and clicking the delete button.