How to Create rules in Outlook to manage inbox efficiently?

We might have our email sorted according to our convenience, but grouping your important mails that you receive every day is tiresome.

The primary objective of this article is to focus on creating rules in Outlook 2016 which automatically arrange your Outlook mails into assigned folders. This reduces your email sorting time and decreases the probability of missing out on important mails.

Now we are going to discuss about different steps to create rules in Outlook 2016 and their uses to manage your Outlook inbox effectively.

Steps to Create Rules in Outlook 2016, can also be applied for Outlook 2013:

  1. Under Home tab->Choose Rules->Manage Rules & Alerts
    Manage Rules and Alerts
  2. Click New Rule in the window, a dialogue box opens as shown below with 3 options
    Stay Organized, Stay Up to Date and Start from a blank rule
    Start from a blank rule
  3. Stay Organized:
    • Bascially this option moves your incoming emails to different folders based on your prior rule plan.
      For example, you can move a mail from a particular client to a specific folder (My Client) based on specific word (Quotation) in the subject.
    • By using this option, you can flag a specific (Client) mail for follow up.
    • Even your specific RSS feeds can also be sent to particular Folder.
    • Separate group emails to a group specific folder.
  4. Stay Up to Date:
    • Use this option to organize your incoming mails to sort and respond to it effectively.
    • New Item Alert Window helps you to take immediate action to high priority emails.
    • You can activate a sound alert for a message from a specific sender
    • Receive mail alert SMS to your mobile.

Sometimes you might want to customize the action that you want to take regarding an email.

In that case, you can use Start from a bank rule option.

  • This option allows you to choose between 31 Outlook Rules and corresponding 21 Outlook Actions to optimize the usage of your inbox.
  • You can use this option to define the positioning of Incoming and Outgoing emails
    Rules Wizard

Let us consider a scenario to better understand how we can create rules in Outlook 2016 and their respective Actions to pre-define the organization of your Inbox


  1. Consider you have to submit a project report at the end of month, hence you have categorized all project mails to be referred as Blue color using Color Categorize option.
  2. Since you have number of other mails from same project (Blue Category), that do not need any reference for this specific report, you can use outlook rules to segregate the required mails as follows:

5 Steps to organize your project mails into a separate folder using Outlook 2016 rules:

Step 1: Create new folder as Sample Project
Step 2: Open Rules by following above discussed method, Select Apply rule on messages I receive
Step 3: List of 31 Rules will be displayed Check Assigned to Category category option from Step 1 box. From the Step 2 box choose blue color by clicking on Category
Step 4: In the next window choose move it to the Specified folder option from Step 1 box. In the Step 2 box choose the Sample Project folder by clicking on Specified
Step 5: If you have any exception apply that by choosing it from the listed options. For example select except where my name is in the Cc box to exclude that particular mail.

In next window, you can assign a name to this specific rule as My Sample Project. Older messages can also be moved by using Run this rule now on messages already in ‘Inbox’.

Review the options and proceed with Finish. Your new rule displayed on the main window.
To confirm click Apply
Rules and alerts

Steps to Create Rules in older versions of Outlook:
Although the process involved for creating an Outlook rule is the same from Rules Wizard step as shown in above procedure for Outlook 2016, we shall provide steps to help you navigate to the Rules options in various older versions of Outlook

Outlook 2007:
Step 1: Select Mail from Navigation Pane
Step 2: Click Tools Menu from Ribbon
Step 3: Select New Rule on E-mail rules tab to see the Rules Wizard window
Refer the Step 2 from “Create Rules in 2016” section to progress further.

Outlook 2010:
Step 1: Select File
Step 2: Click on Manage Rules & Alerts
Step 3: Select New Rule on Email Rules tab to see the Rules Wizard window

Refer the Step 2 from “Create Rules in Outlook 2016” section to progress further.

Now you have created a new customized rule to manage your project files. This method of grouping your emails can help you to stay organized. To preserve these rules created, backup regularly in order to migrate your Outlook data in whenever necessary.

Once Microsoft launches Outlook 2019, we will discuss about its unique features in future.

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