How to: Set rules in Outlook

A rule is an action that Outlook will run automatically on incoming or outgoing messages, based on conditions that you have specified. This helps reduce manually filing or taking the same action when similar messages arrive in your inbox. Here at Think Concepts, we like to use rules to separate internal and external emails. 

Outlook's 'Rules Wizard' includes templates for the most frequently used rules which include the following: 

  • Stay Organised: These rules help you file and follow up on messages. For example, you can create a rule for messages from a specific sender to be flagged for follow-up, categorised under a title, and moved to a folder. 
  • Stay Up to Date: These rules notify you in someway when you receive a particular message.
  • Start from a Blank Rule: These are rules that you can create without a rule template - one you can completely customise. 

To use Outlook's rule templates:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. In the right pane, click Manage Rules & Alerts.
  3. In the Rules and Alerts box, on the E-mail Rules tab, click New Rule.
  4. Under Step 1: Select a template, select the template that you want from the Stay Organised or Stay Up to Date list of templates.
  5. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value. For example, if you click the people or public group link, the Address Book opens.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Under Step 1: Select condition(s), select the conditions that you want the messages to meet for the rule to apply.
  8. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any condition that you added, and then specify the value.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Under Step 1: Select action(s), select the action that you want the rule to take when the specified conditions are met.
  11. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any action that you added, and then specify the value.
  12. Click Next.
  13. Under Step 1: Select exception(s), select any exceptions to the rule, and then click Next.
  14. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click an underlined value for any exception that you added, and then specify the value.
  15. Click Next.
  16. Under Step 1: Specify a name for this rule, enter a name.
  17. Under Step 2: Setup rule options, select the check boxes for the options you want.
  18. If you want to run this rule on messages that already are in the Inbox, select the Run this rule now on messages already in “Inbox" check box.
  19. The new rule is now automatically turned on. To turn off the rule, clear the Turn on this rule check box.
  20. To apply this rule to all email accounts set up in Outlook, select the Create this rule on all accounts check box.
  21. Click Finish.