How to use and set up rules in Outlook

Rules can be used to automate many of Outlook’s features, helping organize and manage your email.

Create a rule in Outlook

You can create a rule using preconfigured templates. To get started, select a message, then click Home > Rules in the ribbon.


In the menu that appears, you’ll see many suggested rules, but you can configure your settings by selecting Create Rule.

Create Rule

A panel opens with configurable settings for your rule. Under When I get e-mail with all of the selected conditions, check the boxes to apply your rule to specific senders or subjects.

Create Rule wizard

In Do the following, select the actions you wish to be taken when your specified conditions are met. Options include moving messages, playing a sound, displaying an alert, and more.

Click Advanced Options to create additional conditions, actions, or exceptions to your rule.

Rules wizard

Continue working through the wizard and click OK to save the rule.

Use an Outlook Rule template

Rules can also be configured using Outlook Rule templates. To review the available templates, click Home > Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts in the ribbon.

Manage rules and alerts

Click New Rule… to open the Rules Wizard.

New rule button

The Rules Wizard comprises several steps through which you configure your rule. Step 1 requires you to select a template – preconfigured actions that allow you to stay organized, up to date, or start from a blank rule.

Make a selection, then continue to Step 2, editing the rule description. Here you can click links to apply the rule to specific people or groups, select folders to receive messages, and more. Configure the settings and select Next to continue.

A wide range of conditions is available for the precise configuration of your rule. Continue working through the steps, adding conditions and exceptions for your rule.

Rule templates

Click the Finish button to save and activate your rule.

If you wish to delete a rule, go to Home > Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts in the ribbon, select a rule and click the Delete button.

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