Create custom actions rules

A rule is an action that Microsoft Outlook automatically performs on sent or received e-mail messages, and the action is based on conditions that you specify in the Rules and Alerts Wizard. There are third-party add-ins, however, that permit Outlook to perform additional, custom actions based on a rule condition.

What is a custom rule?

The Rules and Alerts Wizard in Outlook includes a number of actions that Outlook can perform based on conditions that you define, such as moving all e-mail messages from a specific person into a folder other than your Inbox. Some third parties offer add-ins that permit custom actions, such as automatically printing new e-mail messages. Microsoft does not provide these add-ins. They are written by third-party developers as dynamic-link library (.dll) files that must be installed on the computer running Outlook.

To find Outlook add-ins on the Web, use your Web browser to search for Outlook custom actions.

The following instructions will help you create a rule that runs a custom action add-in.

Note: A rule with a custom action runs only on the computer where it is installed and only when Outlook is running.

Create a custom action rule

To create a rule by choosing your own conditions, actions, and exceptions, do the following:

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click Mail.

  2. On the Tools menu, click Rules and Alerts.

  3. If you own more than one e-mail account, in the Apply changes to this folder list, select the Inbox that you want.

  4. Click New Rule.

  5. Under Start from a blank rule, select either Check messages when they arrive or Check messages after sending, and then click Next.

  6. Under Step 1: Select condition(s), select the conditions that you want the messages to meet for the rule to apply.

  7. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click each underlined value, enter the criteria for each condition, and then click Next.

  8. Under Step 1: Select action(s), scroll down the actions list, and then select the perform a custom action check box.

  9. Under Step 2: Edit the rule description, click the underlined value a custom action.

  10. Under Choose an action to be performed, select the add-in that you want to run.

    Note: If the add-in does not appear, the add-in is not properly installed for use by Outlook. You must contact the add-in developer for assistance.

  11. To change the Action value, click Change.

  12. Click OK to close the dialog box, and then click Next.

  13. Under Step 1: Select exception(s), select any exceptions to the rule, and then click Next.

  14. To finish creating the rule, enter a name for the rule, and then select any other options that you want.

    • If you want to run this rule on messages that are in one of your folders, select the Run this rule now on messages already in "folder" check box.

    • To apply this rule to all of your e-mail accounts and the Inbox associated with each account, select the Create this rule on all accounts check box.

  15. Click Finish.

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