How to Create Rules in Outlook

Updated Oct 01, 2020

Each email client (such as Outlook, Gmail, or Apple Mail) has their own name and system for creating "Rules". These Rules are automated instructions the system follows.

These Rules can do a number of things. For example, if you want emails from a specific person to be placed directly in a folder instead of the inbox, you can do that. If you want emails containing "BYU-Idaho" sent to your BYU-Idaho folder, you can do that. If you want any email that contains the word "cat" placed in your "funny cat" folder, you can do that. You just need to know how to create new rules.

Rules can also be used by hackers to get into your computer. For more information see, Using Outlook Rules to Find Viruses.

Creating Rules on Outlook Web

Since there are many ways to create and use rules, this tutorial will go over one of the options. In this case, we will move all emails with the subject line "BYU-Idaho" to the folder "BYU-Idaho News."

1. Log in to your Outlook Email.

2. Click the Settings icon in the top right corner. It is in the shape of a gear.

3. Click View all Outlook settings.

4. Click Rules.

5. If you haven't created any rules, your page should look like this:

If there are already Rules in your box that you didn't create, delete them. Unless they are presets that Microsoft has already set up, they are a viruses. Delete it immediately. For more information on viruses in Rules, see Using Outlook Rules to Find Viruses.

6. Click + Add new rule.

7. Type in the name of the rule you want to make. In this case, type "BYU-Idaho News."

8. Add a condition. Conditions tell the computer what to look for. As you can see, there are many conditions you could set.

For this example, click Subject includes because we are only looking for emails containing "BYU-Idaho" in the subject line.

9. In the box to the right, fill in the phrase we are looking for. In this case, we are looking for "BYU-Idaho".

10. Select an action.

An action tells the computer what to do when a condition is met. But, as mentioned, there are dozens of options to choose from. You can make these Rules do practically anything.

In this case, select Move to because we are moving an email from the inbox to the BYU-Idaho News folder.

11. Select the folder you want to place the email in. Since you probably don't have this folder, scroll down to select New folder.

12. Type "BYU-Idaho News" in the New Folder box and click Enter.

13. Your page should now look like this:

You will notice that there are options to add on more conditions and actions and exceptions. These are for complicated instructions, like sending all messages from the name Windy Weather, but which also contain the word "tornadoes." Mixing and matching these items can create powerful and specific instructions.

14. If this option shows up (sometimes it doesn't), select Run rule now. Then, click Save.

15. You can turn a rule on and off whenever you like by selecting the Blue Toggle button to the left of the rule.

You're all done! Think of all the possibilities with your Rule tool!

Unfortunately, these neat tools can be used by hackers. Can you see now how someone may use these tools to create Rules that hide or steal important information from you? Remember to frequently check your rules for suspicious activity. If you didn't create a rule and you don't know what it does, it is probably a virus. Delete it immediately.

For more information on viruses and rules, check out our other article: Using Outlook Rules to Find Viruses.

Creating Rules on Outlook Desktop

Since there are many ways to create and use Rules, this tutorial will go over one of the options. In this case, we will move all emails with the subject line "BYU-Idaho" to the folder "BYU-Idaho News".

1. Open Outlook on your desktop.

2. Click File in the top left corner.

3. Click Rules and Alerts.

4. If you have never created rules, your screen should look like this:

If there are already rules in your box that you didn't create, delete them. Unless they are presets that Microsoft has already set up, they are a viruses. Delete it immediately. For more information on viruses in rules, see Using Outlook Rules to Find Viruses.

5. Click New Rule.

6. The Rules Wizard box will appear. This will provide you with some templates; take some time to read through those to see if any of them are what you need. Remember, there are dozens of tools and options for creating rules. Use this tutorial as a guide to learning how the rules work.

For this example, we will create a rule from scratch.

Select Apply rule on messages I receive and click Next.

 

7. Select with specific words in the subject. In the box below, it will explain what this condition is doing. Click the link specific words to select the name or group you wish to use. In this case, we will search for emails with the subject "BYU-Idaho".

8. Type the subject you want the computer to look for. In this case, type "BYU-Idaho". Click Add when done.

9. Click OK.

10. Select move it to the specified folder, since we want to move all emails with the subject "BYU-Idaho" to the folder, "BYU-Idaho News". Then click the link specified.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of actions to choose from. You can make this as personalized as you need.

11. If you have already created the folder "BYU-Idaho News", click the folder. If you have not, click New.

12. Type BYU-Idaho News in the box. Click OK.

13. The BYU-Idaho News folder should be highlighted. Click OK.

14. The name of the folder and what we are looking for in the subject line should show up in the lower box.

Since we have no other parameters, click Next.

15. If you would like to make any exceptions to this action, select the ones you want. For example, if you want all emails from Windy Weather sent to your folder, except the ones with the word "tornadoes", you can make those adjustments here. When you're done, click Next.

16. Don't forget to have Turn on this rule selected, to turn on the rule. If you want this rule to happen to mail already inside your inbox, select Run this rule now on messages already in "Inbox".

When you're done, click Finish.

17. You're all done! Think of all the possibilities you can do with your Rule tool! Can you see now how hackers can use these tools to create rules that hide or steal important information from you? Remember to frequently check your rules for suspicious activity. If you didn't create a rule and you don't know what it does, it is probably malware. Delete it immediately.

For more information on viruses and Rules, check out our other article: How to Create Rules in Outlook.

My rule isn't functioning properly

If you've created a new rule, and it is not functioning the way you wanted it to, here are a few suggestions.

1. Check to make sure the rule you made doesn't contain any mistakes, like a misspelled word or incorrectly selected action.

2. Refresh your Outlook page.

3. Log out of Outlook and log back in again.

4. If you use the web-based Outlook (where it appears as a tab on whatever Internet browser you use), having the rule apply to messages already in your inbox does not work. If you wait for an email to get to you after you have created the rule, it will function properly. If the immediate functionality of the rule is important, download the desktop version of Outlook and take a look at your rules there. The desktop version of Outlook functions normally for messages already in the inbox.

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