Outlook rules

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What are Outlook Rules and should I use them in my business?

Posted on 28 April 2023 by Beaming Support

Rules allow you to tell Outlook what action to automatically take with certain emails – within your personal inbox, or (if you’re an administrator) across your entire organisation.

They can be set based on conditions such as who has sent the email, key words mentioned in the email/ subject line, or the recipient(s). The action that follows can be a variety of things – such as moving the email to a separate folder, flagging, forwarding, deleting, or pinning to the top of your inbox.

The ability to create email rules is an incredibly useful feature, but like anything powerful, it must be treated with respect and caution, or unexpected issues can occur.

Pros and cons to consider before setting up email rules in outlook.


  • Rules allow for a more streamlined inbox, allowing you to not be distracted by low-importance tasks
  • If they’re set up carefully, they require little-to-no afterthought
  • They can remove the task of organizing your emails yourself – saving you time and mental load



  • If rules are too vague, important messages can end up being placed into the wrong folders, with their urgency being overlooked
  • Inefficient rules can mean it takes longer for you to find certain emails, creating more work for yourself


Here’s an example of a rule going wrong:

Say you are involved in a project, and you want all the emails that are associated with that project to go into a specific folder.

You create a folder called ‘Project Monday’, after the project’s top-secret name.

You create a rule that checks the subject line of any incoming emails for the words ‘Monday’, which then moves it to the ‘Project Monday’ folder.

Seems pretty straight forward, right?

Well, yes, it is right up to the point that one of the members of staff who works under you requests a day’s holiday for the following Monday.

This email also ends up in the ‘Project Monday’ folder.

Now this causes a problem for your employee as you only check the ‘Project Monday’ folder on a Monday, so you don’t see their email and they doesn’t get the time off approved.

Obviously, this is a slightly far-fetched scenario but the issues are genuine ones.

It’s always best when creating a rule to think a little outside the box as to what the unexpected consequences of it might be, and it’s also a good idea to periodically check that you don’t have any rules running that you don’t need any more.


Overall, outlook rules are a useful tool in order to streamline your work flow and avoid distractions – but ensure they are set up properly, so you don’t end up causing more work for yourself.


To view the rules you have set-up, in the Outlook Home menu, click on Rules and then ‘Manage Rules & Alerts’. A box will pop up where you can see rules, with rule description and options to edit or delete if necessary.


Here’s an example of a rule you can set up to increase your cyber security.


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