Learn About Inbox Rules

Rules can be used to automatically sort incoming e-mail into folders based on, for example, who the sender is, who the message was sent to, or the importance of a message. For example, you can create a rule to automatically move all mail sent to a group you're a member of to a specific folder.

This information applies to the standard version of Outlook Web App. The feature that's described isn't available in the Outlook Web App Light.
How do I manage rules?

To manage rules, click Options> Create an Inbox Rule.

You can use the Inbox Rules tab to create new rules, or to edit or delete existing rules.

What else do I need to know?

  • To create a new blank rule using the Inbox Rules tab, click rulesNew.

  • You don't have to use the Inbox Rules tab to create a rule. You can also create rules directly from messages. To create a rule directly from a message:

    1. Right-click the message in the message list pane.

    2. Click Create Rule, or open the message and then click rulesCreate Rule on the toolbar.

  • Rules are run from top to bottom in the order in which they appear in the Rules window. To change the order of rules, click the rule you want to move, and then click the up previous or down next arrow to move the rule to the position you want in the list.

  • Some types of messages won't trigger Inbox rules, including:

    • Delivery status notifications, which include non-delivery reports and system messages.

    • Read receipts and delivery receipts that are generated by an e-mail client.

    • Some automatic-reply (Out of Office) messages.

  • You can create more complex rules by clicking More Options. After you click More Options:

    • You can set more than one condition for your rule.

    • You can set more than one action for your rule.

    • You can add exceptions by clicking Add Exception.

    • You can turn on or turn off Stop processing more rules. By default, the option to stop processing more rules is turned on. With this option on, when a message comes in that meets the criteria for more than one rule, only the first rule will be applied. Without this setting, all rules that the message met the criteria for would be applied.

      For example, without Stop processing more rules selected, if you have a rule to move all messages sent to a public group to a particular folder and another rule to move anything from your manager to another folder, and your manager then sends a message to that group, you'll find a copy of the message in both folders. If you want only the rule that moves messages from your manager to be applied, put that rule higher in the list than the rule that moves messages sent to the group, and then edit the first rule to add the option to stop processing more rules.

    • You can edit the name of the rule using the Name box.

  • Each rule you create will take up space in a hidden section of your mailbox. This section is limited to 64 KB. The actual amount of space a rule uses depends on several factors, such as how long the name is and how many conditions you've applied. When you reach the 64 KB limit, you'll be warned that you can't create any more rules. If that happens, you'll have to delete or simplify some of your existing rules before you can create more. Some ways you can reduce the space used by rules are:

    • Delete rules you no longer need.

    • Shorten the names of your rules.

    • Combine one or more rules that do the same thing.

    • Remove criteria from rules.

  • When you create a forwarding rule, you can add more than one address to forward to. The number of addresses you can forward to may be limited, depending on the settings for your account. If you add more addresses than are allowed, your forwarding rule won’t work. If you create a forwarding rule with more than one address, test it to be sure it works.

What if I want to know more?

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