Visit Us · Contact Us

  • Information Technology Services
    Hines Hall 101
    Staff Listing
  • Help Desk Locations
    FSA - Hines Hall 101
    Students - Standish Library

Outlook Rules

Microsoft Outlook uses rules to allow you to manage your inbox messages. Rules can be set to send a message to a folder, to flag messages from certain senders, or to delete messages you don't want to read.

A wizard guides you through the process of creating a rule.

  • To start, click on "Tools," "Rules and Alerts" (you may have to expand the menu by clicking on the arrows at the bottom), and then "New Rule." The rules wizard will begin. 

Rules Wizard Start

  •  There are series of preset rules, but it's usually best to start a new rule. Click on "Check messages when they arrive" and click "Next."

Rules wizard conditions 

  • A series of options are selected. For this, and other screens, there is a setup.
    • Put a check mark beside a condition.  This will make it active; it will appear in the lower ("Step 2") box.
    • If you put a check mark beside two or more conditions, they are both active. The rule will apply if any one of the conditions are true.
    • Most of the conditions have additional specifications. Once you have selected the rule by clicking on the check box, these conditions have blue underlined text (looking like a web link). Click on the text and a window will display. Enter the information you want to use: the sender, for instance, or a folder you may want to put the message into.
    • You can add multiple conditions in many of these windows. If any one of the conditions are true, then the rule will work.
    • Once you have added the conditions, click "OK."
  • The "Step 2" box will indicate your conditions.  When you are done, click "Next."
  • You will be asked what you want to do with the message. You may have already specified something on the previous screen, but this allows you to add additional options once the message is identified. If you choose more than one option, both options will occur.

Note: One of the options is "Stop processing more rules." Use this with care.  It can affect how other rules work and may prevent them from checking.

  • Once you have set this up, click "Next."
  • The next screen lets you set up exceptions; the rule will ignore these.  For instance, you may want to put all messages sent to the faculty distribution list in a folder, but not if they come from certain people. Any exceptions you specify will show up in your inbox.
  • Once you have set this up, click "Next."
  • The final screen will display. You can give the rule a name (it will already have one, but you may want to change it). There are also a couple of check boxes. Checking "run on messages on the inbox" will let you see if the rule is doing what it should. Click "Finish" and the rule will be run.
  • The rule is now active for any new messages.


In this case, we'll set up a rule that will automatically delete messages with "viagra" in the subject line or body.

  • Click on "Tools."
  • Click on "Rules and Alerts."
  • Click on "New Rule."
  • Click on "Check messages when they arrive" under "Start from a blank rule."
  • Click on "Next."
  • Click on the check box beside "With specific words in the subject or body."  The rule will display in the lower box.
  • Click on the blue highlighted "Specific words."  A window will display.
  • Type in "Viagra" and click "Add."

Rules viagra

  • "Viagra" will display in search list. Click on "OK."
  • The lower box will now reflect your changes.  Click on Next.
  • Put a check mark beside the words "Delete it."  This will display as part of the rule.
  • Click on "next."
  • Add any exceptions.  For the sake of our example, we will add one from any senders from the domain.
  • Put a check mark beside "except with specific words in the sender's address."  The rule will be modified.
  • Click on the blue highlighted "specific words."  A window will display.
  • Type "" as the words to specify and click "Add."
  • Click "OK."
  • The rule will be modified.  Click "Next."
  • If you want, change the name and specify if you want to run the rule.
  • Click Finish. The rule will check your inbox and delete any messages with "viagra" in them. Any new messages with "viagra" in them will be automatically deleted.