Things to know about Outlook:1 using rules to auto delete or move emails

Delete is often your friend, but what about persistent spam from which there is no escape, how often do you have two keep using the delete key when you could automate? Many of my systems administrator colleagues hold that if you are going to do something more than eight times it is worth considering automating it in some way.

You have tried to unsubscribe from that supplier list, or asked the individual persistent spammer to desist, or perhaps you hold the position that it is best not to unsubscribe because you have found that this merely proves to the offender that you have a valid email address to send more spam to. What we need here is a rule, to move the offending emails straight to the deleted items. This will work if the emails come from the same person, same (but unique) domain or contain the same subject; i.e. there is something from which we can form a rule.

Rules are useful if you want to move emails from a particular person or mail list into a particular folder, other than the deleted items (trash) which is really just another folder. Below is an example of moving all emails from into a folder called orders-goods.


I have selected this example to avoid giving credence to particular spammers, causing offence, invite legal action or ire of some sort by revealing any valid email addresses. There are several other criteria by which to select emails, for example, those emails from or addressed to a particular email address, by subject line containing a particular word or phrase. By the way, keeping a consistent subject line if you are sending emails on the same subject is important to allow your recipients to set up such rules. You may have noticed such is the case in my Amazon example, eg dispatched, order update, kindle all these are distinguishing conditions from the same domain ie

How else can rules be used?

rules-wizardIt is possible to; flag messages for follow up, move to a task list and more. The conditions by which to set a rule and define actions can be found in the Rules Wizard (shown on left).

tasskiconSending emails to a task list; in my images you will see something which doesn’t look like an email folder, which uses the clipboard icon (which represents a task) it is named groupstore. I can send emails to myself  by, creating a rule based on a whole, or part of a  repeated subject line and have all emails  delivered straight to a specific task list: in this case the groupstore task list. For example create a subject line always containing ‘groupstore tasks’ plus some changeable text eg remember to do task x. Or, maybe I want to take all emails from the finance department and add them to a task list if they have a subject line containing, for example planning.

You may have a regular event you are notified about by email say a security update/event that you want to have flash up on your notification bar, or maybe it is an email from your boss. In that case you can set up an alert (audible or a notification bar item) using rules, or you could automatically flag it as urgent or otherwise define properties to mark it as requiring urgent or a specific action or kind of attention.

Rules have conditions which trigger one or more actions and are very flexible. Many email clients have rule functionality, you just need to find the terminology used to describe the function. For example Mac Mail has the concept of VIP to highlight, notify you based on sender.

Next week we will look more at outlook tasks…

Posted in Email, Outlook, tools | 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Things to know about Outlook:1 using rules to auto delete or move emails”

  1. Caryl Ukich says:

    mindblowing tips provided by this site. Thanks for sharing

    • Lyn Waddington says:

      Thanks Caryl, I am working on a couple things, note taking applications and how to work collaboratively on task lists. Your encouragement ought to spur me into action! Lyn

  2. Eric says:

    I’m trying to develop an Outlook (2016) email rule that will automatically delete emails in a folder that have the exact same subject as other emails in the folder. I want the rule to apply to automated system reminders that continue to ping me until I respond. The subjects have a unique identifier that increments and I only want to keep one email for record and delete the others. I’m having difficulty figuring out if I can set up this kind of rule without defining a static “Subject X” flag, which doesn’t help because I want the first notice for email “Subject 1” and the first for email “Subject 2”, but I don’t need the multiple reminders I’ll receive before addressing each email.

    Any pointers on how I might do this? I plan to schedule this once a week to keep certain folders cleaned up automatically.

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