Using Outlook 2010 Rules to Filter Messages and Spam - Article 1069

Many of the message management functions available in Outlook can be easily accomplished with the use of rules. Rules can perform a variety of actions on a message, e.g., changing the importance level, automatic filing into other mail folders, or even automatic deletion.

Getting Started

You first need to determine something unique about the messages from the list or sender that will allow the messages to be filtered out while leaving the rest of your mail intact. This might be something in the subject, a unique sender, something in the body of the message, or a customized header.

Note On Deleting Messages: Even the most thoroughly thought-out filter can fail due to any number of unforseen variables. We do not recommend creating a filter to automatically delete messages.

Transferring to a Mail Folder Based on Subject

A few months ago you subscribed to the mailing list Earth-Info. At first the list wasn't getting a lot of traffic, but now it is. You still want to read the messages but want them in a separate folder from your Inbox.  You first need to determine something unique about the messages from this list that will allow them to be filtered out while leaving the rest of your mail intact. This mailing list includes the text "[earth-info]" in the subject line of every message.

1. Select File | Rules and Alerts

2. Click on the New Rule button

3. In the "Step 1: Select a template" box, under the"Start from a blank rule" section, select Apply rule on messages I receive

4. Click Next. In the "Which condition(s) do you want to check?" box, scroll down until you see with specific words in the subject

5. Check the box to the left of with specific words in the subject

6. In the "Edit the Rule Description" box below, click on specific words

7. In the "Specify words or phrases to search for in the subject" window, type the text to search for—in this example [earth-info]
(This match is not case sensitive.)

8. Click the Add button

9. Click OK. Your screen should now look like Figure 1 below:

10. Click Next

11. Check the box to the left of the action you wish to perform on this message. In this example, check the box to the left of move it to the specified folder, in the "What do you want to do with the message?" box

12. In the "Edit the Rule Description :" box below, click on specified

13. In the "Choose a folder:"dialog box, select an already existing folder or create a new one. For this example, select Mailbox - Your Name and click New

14. In the Name: field, give this folder a name. It doesn't matter what you call it. For this example, type Earth-Info

15. Click OK

16. Click OK again. Your screen should now look like Figure 2 below:

17. Click Next

18. Click Next at the "Are there any exceptions?:" box

19. Specify a name for this filter. It does not matter what you call it—this is just so you can tell it apart from other filters you may create. Your screen should now look like Figure 3 below:

20. Make certain that the box to the left of Turn on this rule is checked

21. Click Finish

22. Click OK

Changing the Importance Based on Sender

Lately you've been receiving several dozen messages per day. All of it is important, of course, but you've been expecting something of the utmost importance from your research collaborator Philip Jackson <paj@aemons.edu>. When his message comes in, you don't want it to get lost in a sea of unrelated e-mail—you want to see it immediately.

Outlook's message rules can make an important message stand out. If you set a message as important, a red exclamation mark (!) appears off to the side of the message.

We already know something about Philip's messages that are unique to him—his "From:" address. His "From:" address always displays as:

From: Philip Jackson <paj@aemons.edu>

You can easily set up a filter based on the sender's address: <paj@aemons.edu>.

1. Select File | Rules and Alerts

2. Click on the New Rule button

3. In the "Step 1: Select a template" box, under the"Start from a blank rule" section, select Apply rule on messages I receive

4. Click Next

5. In the "Which condition(s) do you want to check?" box, scroll down until you see with specific words in the sender's address

6. Check the box to the left of with specific words in the sender's address

7. In the "Edit the Rule Description" box below, click on specific words

8. In the "Specify words or phrases to search for in the subject" window, type the text to search for, in this example paj@aemons.edu
(This match is not case sensitive.)

9. Click Add

10. Click OK. Your screen should now look like Figure 4 below:

 Figure 4: Based on Sender

11. Click Next

12. Check the box to the left of the action you wish to perform upon the message. In this example, select mark it as importance, in the "What do you want to do with the message?" box

13. In the "Edit the Rule Description" dialog box below, click on importance

14. In the "Importance" dialog box, select High from the pull-down menu. Click OK. Your screen should now look like Figure 5 below:

 

15. Click Next

16. Click Next at the "Are there any exceptions?:" box

17. Specify a name for this filter. It does not matter what you call it—this is just so you can tell it apart from others you may create. For this example, leave paj@aemons.edu. Your screen should now look like Figure 6 below:

18. Make certain that the box to the left of Turn on this rule is checked

19. Click Finish

20. Click OK

Filtering Based on Customized Headers

A mailing list you are subscribed to has recently been hit by a sudden surge of e-mail postings. Unfortunately, this list doesn't appear to include any way of distinguishing the messages from other mail. The subject isn't modified, the "From:" field always appears as the original sender rather than the list, and the "To:" field is always your own e-mail address.

Viewing the full headers of the message reveals something, however. (To view all of the headers, select View | Options... while reading the message.) The messages from this mailing list includes the header:

X-List-Remailer: i-list@heron.com

The following example moves all e-mail messages that contain the above header into a mail folder called "FilteredMessages".

1. Select File | Rules and Alerts

2. Click on the New Rule button

3. In the "Step 1: Select a template" box, under the"Start from a blank rule" section, select Apply rules on messages I receive

4. Click Next

5. In the "Which conditions do you want to check?" box, scroll down until you see with specific words in the message header

6. Check the box to the left of with specific words in the message header

7. In the "Edit the Rule Description" box below, click on specific words

8. In the "Specify words or phrases to search for in the subject" window, type the exact match for the header you wish to filter, for example:
X-List-Remailer: i-list@heron.com
(This match is case sensitive for both the header name and the text.)

9. Click Add, then OK. Your screen should now look like Figure 7 below:

10. Click Next

11. Check the box to the left of the action you wish to perform upon this message. In this example, select move it to the specified folder, in the "What do you want to do with the message?" box

12. In the "Edit the Rule Description :" box below, click on specified

13. In the "Choose a folder:" box, select an already existing folder or create a new one. For this example, select Mailbox - Your Name and click New

14. In the Name: field, type FilteredMessages

15. Click OK

16. Click OK again. Your screen should now look like Figure 8 below:

17. Click Next

18. Click Next at the "Are there any exceptions?:" box. Your screen should now look like Figure 9 below:

19. Make certain that the box to the left of Turn on this rule is checked.

20. Click Finish.

21. Click OK.

Filtering SPAM

Outlook offers a couple of different ways to filter SPAM mail:

  • Filter your mail that has been flagged as possible SPAM by PureMessage.
  • Use Outlook's Junk E-Mail Feature. This feature transfers possible SPAM to a "Junk E-Mail" folder. You can then look through the folder to determine if it is really SPAM or if you would like to keep it.

Using Outlook to filter spam flagged by PureMessage

1. Select File | Rules and Alerts

2. Click the New Rule button.

3. Select the Move messages with specific words in the subject to a folder template

4. Click the Next button

5. Verify that with specific words in the subject is checked under Step 1

6. Click specific words under Step 2, type spam?, click the Add button, and then click OK

7. Click specified under Step 2, select an existing folder, or click New to create a new folder, and then click OK

8. Click Next and verify that move it to the specified folder is checked

9. Click Next and select any exceptions

10. Click Next and specify a name for the rule, e.g., FilterSpam

11. Click Finish and then click OK to save the rule

Using Outlook's Junk E-Mail Feature

To setup the feature, follow the steps below:

1. On the Home tab, Choose Junk | Junk E-Mail Options

2. Select the level of junk e-mail protection you wish to use

3. Click OK to save your changes

You should check your "Junk E-Mail" folder regularly to make sure you are not filtering messages you wish to read and also to clean it out.

Adding a Sender to the Safe Senders List

1. Right-click on a message and choose Junk | Never block sender Junk E-Mail. You will receive a message that "The sender has been added to your Safe Senders list".

Adding a Sender to the Blocked Senders List

1. Right-click on a message and choose Junk | Block Sender

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