About managing messages with rules

Rules (rule: One or more automatic actions taken on e-mail messages and meeting requests that meet certain conditions, along with any exceptions to those conditions. Rules are also referred to as filters.) help you manage your e-mail messages by performing actions on messages that match a specific set of conditions. After you create a rule, Microsoft Outlook applies the rule when a message arrives in your Inbox or when you send a message. For example, you can automatically:

  • Forward to your manager all messages sent by Judy Lew when they arrive in your Inbox.
  • Assign the category Sales to all messages you send that have the word "sales" in the Subject box.
  • Flag each meeting request or meeting update you receive from your manager.

Rules fall into two general categories: notification and organization. Notification rules alert you in some way when you receive a particular message. For example, you can create a rule that automatically sends an e-mail message to your mobile telephone when you receive a message from a family member. Organization rules perform one or more actions on a message. For example, you can create a rule that moves certain messages to a folder or flags them for follow-up on a particular day.

You can also run one or more of your rules manually. Running rules manually allows you to selectively apply them to messages already in your Inbox or in another folder.

You can add exceptions to your rules for special circumstances, such as when a message is flagged for follow-up action or is marked with high importance. A rule is not applied to a message if any one of the exceptions you specify is met.

ShowServer-based rules and client-only rules

If you have an e-mail account (e-mail account: The server name, user name, password, and e-mail address used by Outlook to connect to an e-mail service. You create the e-mail account in Outlook by using information provided by your administrator or Internet service provider (ISP).) on a Microsoft Exchange Server, the server can apply rules to your messages even if you don't have Outlook running. These are called server-based rules. The rules must be set to be applied to messages when you receive them in the Inbox on the server, and the rules must be able to run to completion on the server. For example, a rule can't be applied on the server if the action specifies that a message be printed. If a rule can't be applied on the server, it is applied when you start Outlook.

A rule that can't be applied on the server has the words "client-only" added to the end of the rule's name. Client-only rules are applied after all other rules. If your list of rules contains rules that can be run on the server as well as those that can't, the server-based rules are applied first, followed by the client-only rules.

ShowDelivery receipts, voting responses, and out-of-office notices

Delivery receipts, read receipts, voting responses, and out-of-office notices are treated as messages. For example, when you create a rule that moves items (item: An item is the basic element that holds information in Outlook (similar to a file in other programs). Items include e-mail messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.) with the word "meeting" in the Subject box, all delivery receipts, voting responses, and out-of-office messages that meet this condition are moved.

 Note   If a voting response is moved out of the Inbox, the response is not automatically tracked in the original message.

ShowMeeting requests, task requests, and documents

Meeting requests, task requests, and documents are treated as messages. For example, when you create a rule that moves items (item: An item is the basic element that holds information in Outlook (similar to a file in other programs). Items include e-mail messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, posted items, and documents.) with the word "meeting" in the Subject box, any task request or meeting request that meets that condition is moved. However, keep in mind the following limitations when creating rules that affect these types of items:

  • An item moved to a non-mail folder might not work as you expect after it is moved. For example, if a message is moved to the Calendar folder, a new appointment is not created.
  • If a meeting or task response is moved to the Deleted Items folder by using a rule, the tracking in the original item is not updated.
  • If a meeting request is automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder, the meeting is not added to the Calendar.
  • Rules that affect messages you send are not applied to task requests and meeting requests.
 
 
Applies to:
Outlook 2003