Using Rules to Filter Outlook Web Access (OWA) Messages and Spam - Article 1094

Using Rules to Filter Outlook Web Access (OWA) Messages and Spam
Many of the message management functions available in Outlook Web Access (OWA) 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 from this list, 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 Options | Rules.
  2. Click on the New Rule button.
  3. Select Create a new rule for arriving messages.
  4. Click Delete Disabled Rules button if you receive the box "Compatibility with Outlook".  
  5. In the "After the message arrives " box, select If the message includes specific words...
  6. Check the box to the left of in the subject.
  7. In the "Rule Description " box on the left, 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 [earth-info]   (This match is not case sensitive.)
  9. Click the Add button.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Your screen should now look like Figure 1 below:
  12. screen shot
  13. Figure 1: Based on Subject  
  14. Select the action you want to perform.  In this example, select the Move, copy, or delete.
  15. Select Move it to the specified folder.
  16. In the "Rule Description" box on the left, click on specified.
  17. 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 Create New Folder.
  18. In the box next to the new yellow folder, give this folder a name. It doesn't matter what you call it. For this example, type Earth-Info and press Enter .
  19. Click OK.
  20. Your screen should now look like Figure 2 below:
  21.  screen shot
  22. Figure 2: Based on Subject  
  23. 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.
  24. Click Save.
  25. Make certain that the box to the left of the rule is checked.
  26. Click the Mail icon to return to your mailbox.

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.

OWA'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 Options | Rules.
  2. Click on the New Rule button.
  3. Select Create a new rule for arriving messages.
  4. Click Delete Disabled Rules button if you receive the box "Compatibility with Outlook".  
  5. In the "After the message arrives " box, select If the message includes specific words...
  6. Check the box to the left of In the sender's address.
  7. In the "Rule Description " box on the left, click on specific words.
  8. In the "Add words or phrases" window, type the text to search for—in this example [paj@aemons.edu]  (This match is not case sensitive.)
  9. Click the Add button.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Your screen should now look like Figure 4 below:
  12. screen shot
    Figure 4: Based on Sender  
  13. Select the action you wish to perform upon the message. In this example, select Perform other actions and select Mark its importance.
  14. In the "Rule Description" dialog box on the left, click on importance.
  15. In the "Importance" dialog box, select High from the pull-down menu. Click OK.
  16. Your screen should now look like Figure 5 below:
  17. screen shot
    Figure 5: Based on Sender  
  18. In the "Name:" field, 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.
  19. Click Save.
  20. Make certain that the box to the left of the rule is checked.
  21. Click the Mail icon to return to your mailbox.

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 Options | Rules.
  2. Click on the New Rule button.
  3. Select Create a new rule for arriving messages.
  4. Click Delete Disabled Rules button if you receive the box "Compatibility with Outlook".  
  5. In the "After the message arrives " box, select If the message includes specific words...
  6. Check the box to the left of In the message header .
  7. In the "Rule Description " box on the left, click on specific words.
  8. In the "Add words or phrases" window, type the text to search for—in this example [X-List-Remailer: i-list@heron.com]   (This match is case sensitive for both the header name and text.)
  9. Click the Add button.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Your screen should now look like Figure 7 below:
  12. screen shot
    Figure 7: Based on Customized Header  
  13. Select the action you wish to perform upon this message. In this example, select Move, copy, or delete..., in the "Do the following" box.
  14. In the "Rule Description :" box below, click on specified.
  15. 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 Create New Folder .
  16. In the box next to the new yellow folder, type FilteredMessages and press Enter.
  17. Click OK.
  18. Your screen should now look like Figure 8 below:
  19. screen shot
    Figure 8: Based on Customized Header  
  20. In th "Name:" field, 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 X-List-Remailer: i-list@heron.com.
  21. Click Save.
  22. Make certain that the box to the left of the rule is checked.
  23. Click the Mail icon to return to your mailbox.

Filtering SPAM

Outlook Web Access (OWA) offers a couple of different ways to filter SPAM mail:

  • Filter your mail that has been flagged as possible SPAM by PureMessage.
  • Use the 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.

Filtering messages that are flagged as spam by PureMessage

  1. Click Options | Rules.
  2. Select New Rule .
  3. Select Create a new rule for arriving messages.
  4. Click Delete Disabled Rules button if you receive the box "Compatibility with Outlook".
  5. In the "After the message arrives " box, select If the message includes specific words...
  6. Check the box to the left of "in the subject".
  7. In the "Rule Description " box on the left, click on specific words.
  8. In the "Add words or phrases" window, type the text to search for—in this example spam?
    (This match is not case sensitive.)
  9. Click the Add button.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Select the action you want to perform.  In this example, select the Move, copy, or delete.
  12. Select Move it to the specified folder .
  13. In the "Rule Description" box on the left, click on specified.
  14. 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 select Junk E-Mail.
  15. Click OK.
  16. Specify a name for this filter -- spam. It does not matter what you call it—this is just so you can tell it apart from other filters you may create.    
    screen shot
  17. Click Save.
  18. Make certain that the box to the left of the rule is checked.
  19. Click the Mail icon to return to your mailbox.

Using Outlook Web Access' Junk E-Mail Feature

To setup the feature, follow the steps below:

  1. Choose Options | Junk E-Mail.
  2. Select Automatically filter junk e-mail.
  3. Add any email addresses to include in the Safe Senders list.
  4. Check the box next to "Also trust e-mail from my Contacts.
  5. Add any email addresses to include in the Blocked Senders list.  
  6. Click Save 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 E-Mail.
  2. Select "Add Sender to Safe Senders List". 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 E-Mail.
  2. Select "Add Sender to Blocked Senders List". You will receive a message that "The Sender has been added to your Blocked Senders List". When a sender is added to this list, the message will still be delivered to you, but it will be filtered automatically to your "Junk E-Mail" folder.

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