How to create a rule in Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook logo on laptop.

Using rules in Microsoft Outlook, you can automatically apply predefined actions to emails that meet the criteria in your account. This helps avoid manual filtering of your emails and automates the process for you. We’ll show you two different ways to create rules in Outlook.

CONNECTED: Use Outlook rules to prevent “Oh no!” After sending emails

Ways to create rules in Outlook

The first way to create a rule in Outlook is to use an existing e-mail message as a basis. Outlook then tries to find messages similar to the one you selected and allows you to apply actions to them.

The other way is to create a rule from a template. In this method, you either select a template to create a rule or create a rule from an empty template. This gives you more options for what you want to do with your emails.

Create a rule using an existing Outlook e-mail

To use email that is already in your email account as the basis for your policy, then run the Outlook application on your computer first.

When Outlook opens, find the email you want to use as a base. For example, we want to send all Zoom emails to a specific folder so we can find Zoom emails. Then right-click on this email and select Rules> Create Rule.

Choose Rules> Create Rule from the menu.” width =”650″ height =”362″ src =”/pagespeed_static/1.JiBnMqyl6S.gif” onload =”pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this);” onerror =”this.onerror = null; pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon (this);”/></p>
<p>The Create Rule window will open.  Here, Outlook pre-fills in certain fields of your chosen email to save you time.  To use these fields, be sure to check the box next to each field.</p>
<p>If you want to change the content of the fields, do not hesitate to do so.</p>
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In the same window, in the “Do the following” section, you decide what action to apply to the emails you choose. For example, if you want to automatically move emails similar to the one you selected to a folder, enable the “Move item to folder” option. Then click “Select Folder”.

In the “Rules and alerts” window, select the folder where you want to move your emails. Then select “OK”.

Return to the Create Rule window, click OK to create and save your rule.

Type: To access more options to customize your rule, then in the Create Rule window, click the Advanced Options button.

Choose "GOOD."

In the Success prompt, which opens if you want to apply your new policy to existing emails as well, enable the “Run this policy now for messages that are already in the current folder” option. Then select “OK”.

Choose "GOOD."

And that’s it. Your policy has already been created and will be applied to emails that meet the specified criteria.

Do you know that you can use Outlook policy for automatic BCC emails?

CONNECTED: How to Automatically Make BCC Emails Using Outlook Rules

Create a role using a template in Outlook

Outlook has many templates which offer to help you create some basic rules. To use these templates, first run Outlook on your device. Then, in the upper-left corner of Outlook, click File.

Choose "File" in the upper left corner.

In the left sidebar, click Information. Then, in the right pane, select Rules and Alerts Management.

The Rules and Warnings window will open. Here, under the Email Policy tab, click New Rule.

Choose "New rule."

You’ll see a Rule Wizard window that offers different templates to use for your new rule. Select the template you want to use. For example, select “Move messages with specific words to a topic in a folder” if you want to move your emails containing a specific word in their subject line to a specific folder in your email account.

We will use the above template in the next steps.

Once you’ve selected a template, select “Next” at the bottom of the window.

On the next page, in the “Step 2” section, click “Specific words.”

Choose "Specific words."

You will see a window “Search for text”. Click the “Specify search terms or phrases in the topic” box here and enter the words or phrases you want to filter your emails by. Then add these words to the list by clicking Add.

When you have added your word (s), click the button “OK”.

Add the words and select "GOOD."

Once again, in the “Step 2” section, click “Specified.”

Choose "Specified."

Select the folder where you want to move your emails. Then select “OK”.

You are now back in the Rule Wizard window. Here, at the bottom, click “Next”. Then select “Forward” and “Forward”.

Choose "The next one" on the bottom.

On the End Rule Setup screen, in the Step 1: Name this rule box, enter a name for your rule. This can be any name of your choice, but try to use a descriptive one so you can easily recognize this rule later.

In the “Step 2: Rule Setup Options” section, to use the role for all your existing emails in addition to the new emails, enable the “Follow this policy now for messages that are already in Inbox” option.

Activate the rule by selecting “Enable this rule”. Then click “Finish” at the bottom.

In the “Rules and Warnings” window at the bottom, select “Apply” followed by “OK”.

Type: In the future, to delete a rule, select that rule from the list and select “Delete”.

Choose "Attach" followed by "GOOD."

Your policy has already been created and it will filter and perform actions on the emails you select. You are ready.


Did you know you can create rules from the server in Outlook? They are different from the ones you saw above and you may want to use them in certain cases.

CONNECTED: How to create server-side rules in Outlook

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