How To Set Up Rules In Outlook (With Types And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Microsoft Outlook is an important tool for sending and receiving correspondence in the office. You can maximise the efficiency of this tool by setting up rules to help you organise and manage your emails. Understanding how to set up rules in Outlook can help you organise your correspondence and improve your efficiency and productivity. In this article, we define Outlook rules, explore how to set them up, review the types, explain how to manage them, list the benefits of setting these rules and provide tips for managing your messages on Outlook.

What is a rule in Outlook?

A rule is an action or condition you may set to organise your sent or received emails on Microsoft Outlook. For instance, you may apply an Outlook rule to save emails into a specific folder from a distribution list using certain subject words or tags. The rules in Outlook allow you to flag, move and respond to emails automatically.

An easy way to create rules in Outlook is through messages. The rules apply automatically to sent or incoming messages to meet the conditions you choose. You may choose these actions and conditions from the rules wizard. These rules apply only to unread messages, and you may be unable to apply them to previously opened messages.

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How to set up rules in Outlook

Follow these steps if you are not sure how to set up rules in Outlook:

1. Create a rule on a message

Follow these points to create a rule:

  • Open your Outlook window, right-click on an existing message and select 'Rules' from the drop-down menu. Then select the 'Create Rule' option.

  • You may go for the available options or click on 'Advanced Options.' For example, you may configure Outlook to move messages with a title or sender to a different folder by selecting 'Subject Contains' and clicking the checkbox for 'Move the Item' to a folder.

  • Next, select a condition from the available options and choose what you want to do with the message based on the condition. For instance, if you want to move messages within a select folder, you may select the 'Subject Contains' option and the 'Move the Item to Folder' option to move the message to a new folder.

  • You may select OK when you finish creating the rule. For example, if you wish to use the same rule instantly for a message, you may select the 'Run this New Rule Now on Messages Already in The Current Folder' option and select 'OK.'

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2. Create a rule from a template

Follow these points to create a rule using a template:

  • Start by selecting the 'File' option when you right-click the message. Then select the 'Manage Rules and Alerts' and 'New Rule' options.

  • Next, select a template. For example, if you wish to flag a message, you may choose 'Flag Messages from Someone for Follow-up.'

  • The different template options can help you stay up to date and help you remain organised. You may also choose a template from scratch.

  • You may also edit the template to effect certain changes. Select a value, pick your preference and select 'OK.'

  • Click on 'Next' from the menu. Then select the conditions, and input the relevant information.

  • Select 'Next' to finish the rule setup. It is important to name the selected rules, set up your rule options and review your rule descriptions.

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Types of rules on Outlook

The two broad classes of rules in Outlook are:

  • Server-based rules: Server-based rules operate on email on the server even when Outlook is not running. It applies only to messages sent directly to your mailbox, as the rules do not apply until the messages go through the server.

  • Client-only rules: These rules run on your computer only instead of your server. It is important to note that these rules only run when Outlook operates.

How to manage rules in Outlook

Some steps you may take with rules in Outlook are:

1. Import rules

The steps you may take to import rules in Outlook are:

  • First, click on the 'File' tab at the left of the navigation ribbon.

  • Then select the 'Manage Rules and Alerts' window when you open Outlook.

  • Click on the options in the 'Manage rules and alert' window.

  • From the list of options, select 'Import rules.'

  • Then choose the rules file you intend to import.

  • Finally, click 'Open.'

2. Export rules

Here are the steps to export rules in Outlook:

  • First, click on the 'File' tab at the left of the navigation ribbon.

  • Then select the 'Manage Rules and Alerts' window when you open Outlook.

  • Click on the options in the 'Manage Rules and Alert' window

  • Then, select 'Export rules.'

  • Next, choose and name the folder where you want to save the file.

  • You may select the older versions of Outlook from the 'Save as Type' list to make the rules compatible with older versions.

  • Finally, click 'Save.'

3. Edit or delete rules

You can edit or delete rules in Outlook with the following steps:

  • First, open an Outlook window and select the 'Change Rule' option from the top left corner of your screen.

  • Then, from the drop-down menu, you may select delete a rule.

  • Alternatively, you may select the 'Edit Rule Settings' option to allow you to edit the actions in a particular rule.

4. Run an existing rule manually

Some of the steps you can take to run an existing rule are:

  • First, select the folder tab from the top left corner of the navigation panel on the outlook window.

  • From the 'Clean Up' group, select the 'Run Rules Now' option.

  • Next, select the checkboxes for your preferred rules under the 'Select Rules to Run' option.

  • You may then click on the 'Select All' or 'Deselect All' option to change your selections.

  • Select a new folder where you wish to apply the new rules instead of the 'Run in Folder' option.

  • You may also apply the rules to all unread or read messages.

  • Finally, click on 'Run Now' to launch.

Benefits of setting up message rules in Outlook

Some of the benefits of setting up rules in Outlook are:

  • Increased efficiency: Setting up rules in Outlook can help you focus on the more important emails.

  • Organise mail by title: The rules in Outlook can help you sort emails into folders by their email title or folder name.

  • Saves time: Sorting your messages into titles and folders can help you save time you may otherwise spend sorting through lots of emails.

  • Monitor messages: The message rules in Outlook can help you monitor messages from different email threads.

  • Arrange messages: It can also help separate particular project messages from general work communications.

  • Organise mailbox: Selecting rules on Outlook can help keep your mailbox organised and increases efficiency for modern business.

  • Create email folders: You can arrange messages in different folders based on content and timeline with outlook message rules.

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Tips for using Outlook

Here are some tips on how to use Outlook to help you keep your inbox organised:

  • Create labels: Creating labels helps you sort your messages into different tags. For example, some common labels in Outlook are follow-up, priority and low priority.

  • Flags for reminders: You may use the flag option to create reminders and ensure you get due notice. The flagged emails also appear on the daily task list in the Outlook calendar and Outlook to-do bars.

  • Create sections: You can create multiple sections in your mailbox based on the time frame, urgency, importance and project type. Creating these sections can help you keep out spam and promotional emails.

  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists: Unsubscribing from promotional and mailing lists can help you reduce the volume of emails you receive. As a result, go through your emails and retain only the important newsletters.

  • Use Outlook email templates: If you send similar emails often, you use one of them as a template and use it as a reference in the future. To access your pre-saved templates, go to 'File,' then click on 'Save As...,' select 'Outlook Template,' then click on 'Items,' select 'Choose Form...,' and click on 'User Templates.'

  • Save emails, events and notes on your desktop: Saving important notes, events or messages can help you de-clutter your inbox and allows you to access important messages quickly. You can drag the object you want to save from your inbox and drop it on your desktop or in a folder.

  • Display emails as conversations: This feature can help you quickly read lengthy email threads by displaying related emails in a conversation view. You can activate this feature by clicking 'View' and selecting 'Show as Conversation.'

  • Use the web-based feature: Modern versions of Outlook have a web-based view that allows you to access the contents of your account from any device. It also allows you to access the messages sent on the email app by inputting the communications in your Outlook history.

  • Use natural phrases to create calendar events: You typically scroll and select the relevant date when setting up reminders. Alternatively, you can input phrases such as 'three days from now' or 'next Saturday' into the date field to set reminders automatically.

  • Block emails from specific senders: You can block junk and irrelevant emails to ensure you only receive relevant messages. Click 'Home,' then select 'Junk email options,' and choose the accounts or countries you want to treat as spam.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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