How to setup rules in Microsoft Outlook 2013 – Part 1

Synopsis: In Outlook 2013 you can define rules that tell Outlook to perform specific actions on incoming or outgoing E-mails. In the first of two articles we look at how to create basic rules. In the second article we will look at some more advanced options.

If you have good anti-virus and anti-spam software it is quite likely that it will automatically deal with a good proportion of the unwanted E-mail you receive.

However, it can also be very helpful to have automatic processing of incoming and outgoing E-mails that you actually want to deal with. This is where the use of rules in Outlook 2013 can help.

Let’s start by looking at creating a rule using one of the standard rule “templates”.

I want to move any messages I receive from Steve Brown to an inbox called Inbox Steve that I use just for Steve’s E-mails, independently of the subject of each E-mail.

First of all I select an E-mail I’ve already received from Steve. This will help as Outlook 2013 uses the selection to initialize some of the options when creating the new rule. On the Home tab in the Move group I click on Rules and select Create Rule…. I see the Create Rule dialog.

Create Rule Dialog Box Outlook 2013

In the top half of the dialog Outlook 2013 is suggesting possible conditions that I may want to look for in incoming E-mails. I can select one or more of these and can make amendments if necessary. In this case the only condition I want to apply is that the incoming E-mail is from Steve Brown.

The lower half of the dialog presents some options for the actions to take. These include options for bringing the arrival of the E-mail to my attention and for moving it to a specified folder. In this case I’ve instructed Outlook 2013 to play a sound of my choosing and to file the incoming E-mail in the Inbox Steve folder. This is how the dialog looks just before I click the OK button.

Create Rule Dialog - MS Outlook 2013

When I click OK Outlook 2013 confirms successful creation of the rule.

Success Rules - MS Outlook 2013

It also asks me if I’d like to run the rule straight away on the current folder. To do this, I click the check box and then OK. If I do not want to run the rule straight away, I just click on OK.

To see this and any other existing rules I click on Rules in the Move group on the Home tab and select Manage Rules and Alerts….

Rules and Alerts Dialog - MS Outlook 2013

Note first of all that the particular inbox this rule is to apply to is selected in the Apply changes to this folder control.

With the newly created rule selected I can use the commands towards the top of the dialog to change, copy or delete the rule.

Note also the check box to the left of the rule name. I can uncheck that to temporarily disable the rule rather than deleting it and creating it again later.

There is a description of the rule in the lower half of the dialog. As we will see in the second article in this series, I can click on the underlined values in the description to make changes. We will also see how to create more complex and flexible rules using advanced options.


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