Use inbox rules in Outlook.com

Use inbox rules to automatically perform specific actions on email that arrives in your inbox. For example, you can create rules that will change the importance level of messages as they come in, automatically move them to other folders, or delete them based on certain criteria.

For information about how to use Archive, Sweep, or other tools, see Organize your inbox with Archive, Sweep, and other tools in Outlook.com.

Choose your version for instructions

The instructions are slightly different depending on whether or not you're using the Outlook.com beta. Choose which version of Outlook.com you're using to see the troubleshooting steps that apply to you.

IF YOUR MAILBOX LOOKS LIKE...

IF YOUR MAILBOX LOOKS LIKE...

A screenshot of the top left corner of the Outlook.com beta mailbox

See Instructions for the Outlook.com beta.

A screenshot of the top left corner of the classic Outlook.com mailbox

See Instructions for classic Outlook.com.

Instructions for the Outlook.com beta

Create an inbox rule

Rules only run on your inbox. Rules don't run on other folders.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Right-click a message in your message list that you want to create a rule for, and select Create rule.

  3. Choose a folder where messages from that sender will always be moved and select Done.

  4. Select OK.

Edit an inbox rule

Currently, you can't edit a rule in the beta. You'll need to delete the rule and create a new one.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > View full settings.

  3. Select Mail > Rules.

  4. Hover your cursor over the rule and select Delete .

  5. Go back to your message list, right-click a message, and select Create rule.

Delete an inbox rule

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > View full settings.

  3. Select Mail > Rules.

  4. Hover your cursor over the rule and select Delete .

    Tip: If you just want to turn the rule off for a while, select the toggle next to the rule.

Set the order in which inbox rules are applied to incoming messages

Inbox rules are applied to incoming messages based on the order they're in within the Inbox rules list. You can arrange the order in which the rules you create are applied to messages coming into your inbox.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > View full settings.

  3. Select Mail > Rules.

  4. Select and drag a rule up or down to change the order in which it is applied to incoming messages.

Run inbox rules on existing messages

Currently, you can't run inbox rules on existing messages. A new rule is applied only to messages you receive after it was created.

However, you can use Archive, Move to, and Sweep to automatically move or delete messages in your inbox. To learn more, see Organize your inbox with Archive, Sweep, and other tools in Outlook.com.

Instructions for classic Outlook.com

Create an inbox rule

Rules only run on your inbox. Rules don't run on other folders.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Right-click a message in your message list that you want to create a rule for, and select Create rule.

  3. Enter a name for the rule and then select a condition and action from their respective drop-down lists.

    You can add additional conditions or actions by selecting Add condition or Add action.

  4. Add exceptions to the inbox rule by selecting Add exception.

    Note: By default, the Stop processing more rules option is turned on. When this option is on, when a message arrives in your inbox that meets the criteria for more than one rule, only the first rule will be applied. When this option is off, all inbox rules that a message meets the criteria for are applied.

Edit an inbox rule

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > Options.

  3. Under Mail > Automatic processing, select Inbox and sweep rules.

  4. Select the rule you want to edit and then select edit .

  5. When you've finished making changes, select OK.

Delete an inbox rule

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > Options.

  3. Under Mail > Automatic processing, select Inbox and sweep rules.

  4. Select the rule you want to delete and then select Delete .

  5. Select Save.

    Tip: If you just want to turn the rule off for a while, remove the check mark next to the rule.

Set the order in which inbox rules are applied to incoming messages

Inbox rules are applied to incoming messages based on the order they're in within the Inbox rules list. You can arrange the order in which the rules you create are applied to messages coming into your inbox:

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. At the top of the page, select Settings > Options.

  3. Under Mail > Automatic processing, select Inbox and sweep rules.

  4. Select the rule you want to move and then select Move up or Move down to change the order in which it is applied to incoming messages.

Run inbox rules on existing messages

Currently, you can't run inbox rules on existing messages. A new rule is applied only to messages you receive after it was created.

However, you can use Archive, Move to, and Sweep to automatically move or delete messages in your inbox. To learn more, see Organize your inbox with Archive, Sweep, and other tools in Outlook.com.

Still need help?

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See Also

Organize your inbox with Archive, Sweep, and other tools in Outlook.com

Help keep spam out of your Inbox in Outlook.com

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