Automatic out-of-office replies are a great way to let your contacts know when you’re not available. You can easily send automatic out-of-office replies from Outlook. Moreover, with Outlook you can set up numerous special rules, for example for cases when important e-mails need forwarding. We will show you how to use the Outlook out-of-office assistant, including the tool to set special rules.
More than 280 billion e-mails are sent every day – most of them in a professional context. In view of such figures, it is not surprising that even a company’s own mailbox is quickly full. It is important to keep a cool head. How many unread messages are piled up in your Outlook mailbox? Do you have an overview? Our tip for Outlook users: e-mail rules. Automatic rules for incoming and outgoing messages sort your inbox and keep you up to date, so you won’t miss a thing.
You can learn how to create Outlook rules with and without a template from us.
- Creating a new outlook rule
- Create an Outlook rule without a template
- Create Outlook rules with a template
- Move messages from a specific sender to a folder
- Move messages with certain words in the subject to a folder
- Move messages sent to a public group to a folder
- Mark messages from a specific person for tracking
- Move RSS items from a specific RSS feed to a folder
- Viewing a message from a specific person in the “New Item Notification” window
- Play a sound when receiving messages from a specific person
- Send a notification to my mobile device when I receive messages from a specific person
- Edit existing Outlook rule
Creating a new outlook rule
With Outlook, you can easily create e-mail rules using preset choices. To start the Rules Wizard, follow these steps.
Step 1: Navigate to the “Start” tab and click the “Rules” button in the “Move” panel.
Step 2: Select the “Manage rules and alerts” option. Outlook will then open the “Rules and Alerts” dialog box.
Step 3: Click on the “New Rule...” button in the “E-mail Rules” menu to start the Rules Wizard.
With the Rules Wizard, you can create Outlook rules according to your preferences and needs, with or without a template.
Create an Outlook rule without a template
The Outlook Rules Wizard allows you to create individual e-mail rules based on predefined modules.
First consider whether you want to create an inbox rule or an outbox rule.
Inbox rules are applied to the messages you receive, provided they meet the conditions you define. To create an inbox rule without a template, follow these steps.
Step 1: Under "Create rule without template," select "Apply rule on messages I receive" and click “Next.”
Step 2: Outlook will now ask you which condition(s) you want to attach to your inbox rule. To do this, the Rules Wizard offers the following options. Select at least one condition:
- From people or public group
- With specific words in the subject
- Through the specified account
- Sent only to me
- My name in the "To" box
- Marked as importance
- Marked as sensitivity
- Flagged for action
- Where my name is in the "Cc" field
- Where my name is in the "To" or "Cc" field
- Where my name is not in the "To" field
- Sent to people or public group
- With specific words in the body
- With specific words in the subject or body
- With specific words in the message header
- With specific words in the recipient’s address
- With specific words in the sender’s address
- Assigned to “category” category
If required, you can combine several conditions.
Step 3: Edit the selected condition(s) according to your needs or your personal wishes by clicking on the blue highlighted word groups in the rule description.
Step 4: Determine what to see with messages that meet the condition(s) you have defined. You can choose from the following actions:
- Move it to a specified folder
- Assign it to the “category” category
- Delete it
- Permanently delete it
- Move a copy to the specified folder
- Forward it to people or public group
- Forward it to people or public group as an attachment
- Redirect it to people or public group
- Have the server reply using a specific message
- Reply using a specific template
- Flag message for follow up at this time
- Clear the message flag
- Clear message’s categories
- Mark it as important
- Print it
- Play a sound
- Mark it as read
- Stop processing more rules
If required, you can combine several actions with each other.
Step 5: Edit the selected action(s) by clicking on the blue highlighted word groups in the rule description.
Step 6: Define exceptions if required. You can also choose from the conditions listed above.
Once again, you can link several conditions together.
Step 7: Configure the conditions for an exception by clicking the blue phrases in the rule description.
Click on “Next”
Step 8: Give your new inbox rule a name and specify whether to apply the rule retroactively to all messages in the inbox folder.
Activate the rule by selecting the corresponding checkbox and clicking "Finish."
Your new inbox rule now appears in the “Rules and Alerts” dialog box. Close it by clicking on "Apply."
Outgoing mail rules apply to all messages you send, provided they meet the conditions you define. To configure an outgoing mail rule, follow these steps.
Step 1: Under "Start from a blank rule" select Apply rule on messages I send."
Click “Next” to start the configuration process.
Step 2: Define conditions for your outgoing mail rule. Outlook gives you several options to choose from, and you can combine them if necessary.
Step 3: Edit the condition(s) you have selected by clicking on the word groups highlighted in blue in the rule description.
Click on “Next“
Step 4: Specify which action Outlook should perform with messages that meet the conditions you define. Select any number of the presented options.
Step 5: Edit the selected action(s) in the rule description and click "Next."
Step 6: Define exceptions – if necessary. The same conditions as in step 2 are available for this.
Step 7: Name the rule and specify whether to apply it retroactively to all messages in the inbox folder. Check "Activate this rule" and complete the configuration process by clicking "Finish."
Your outgoing mail rule now appears in the “Rules and Alerts” dialog box. Click “Apply” to close the window.
Create Outlook rules with a template
Outlook offers preconfigured templates for the most common e-mail rules. A total of 8 rule templates are available in the "keep track" and "keep up to date" categories.
The configuration processes essentially correspond to the procedure described above:
Step 1: Select the desired rule
Step 2: Adjust the rule description according to your requirements
Step 4: If necessary, add additional conditions or define exceptions
Step 5: Name the rule and complete the configuration with "Finish"
Move messages from a specific sender to a folder
This template is an inbox rule that moves all messages from a specific sender to a destination folder you define.
How to transfer address information to your Outlook address book is explained in the guide article about importing Outlook contacts.
Move messages with certain words in the subject to a folder
Use this template to create an Outlook rule that automatically moves messages with keywords you specify in the subject to a specific destination folder.
Move messages sent to a public group to a folder
Select this rule template to automatically move messages addressed to one of your public groups to a folder in your mailbox that you select.
Mark messages from a specific person for tracking
This inbox rule ensures that messages sent by a person or group you specify are automatically flagged for tracking.
E-mails that you have flagged for tracking will appear in your task overview.
The tracking function prevents you, for example, from forgetting messages that you want to reply to later.
Move RSS items from a specific RSS feed to a folder
Use this rule template to sort subscribed RSS feeds. Elements of the selected RSS feed are automatically moved to a destination folder of your choice.
If you have subscribed to RSS feeds, the respective titles are displayed in the dialog box of the same name.
Viewing a message from a specific person in the “New Item Notification” window
Use this rule template to define a text that is displayed in the notification window for new items when messages from a specific sender are received.
Play a sound when receiving messages from a specific person
Do you want Outlook to play different beeps when receiving messages from different people? Then this rule template is just right for you.
Select a person or group of persons from your Outlook address book and assign them a sound file on your hard disk.
Send a notification to my mobile device when I receive messages from a specific person
With this rule template, you can keep track of your inbox on the go. Receive e-mail alerts from selected contacts via a mobile device.
Edit existing Outlook rule
You can also edit existing Outlook rules in the “Rules and Alerts" dialog box. Proceed as follows:
Step 1: Select the Outlook rule that you want to edit.
Step 2: Click on “Change rule" and select "Edit rule settings ..." in the context menu. Outlook will then open the selected e-mail in the Rules Wizard.
Step 3: Modify the Outlook rule in the Rules Wizard. Proceed in the same way as when creating a new rule: For example, add conditions or exceptions, or edit the rule description.
Step 4: Confirm the adjustments with a click on "OK."
Then close the "Rules and Alerts" dialog box by clicking "apply."
If you want to delete an Outlook rule you have created, mark it and then click on "Delete." The rule is deleted as soon as you have accepted the changes in the "Rules and Alerts" dialog box.
Further practical tips for using Outlook can be found in our other guide articles about the popular Microsoft e-mail program.