How to Create a Rule in Outlook

What can you do to keep your Outlook inbox organized? In this quick guide, we’ll look into how you can easily create Outlook rules to help you manage your mailbox.

What Are the Outlook Rules?

Creating a well-managed mailbox helps you save time and stay focused. It also lets you easily and quickly find important emails.

One of the best things about using Outlook is its ability to let you set up email rules. Outlook rules allow you to automatically perform actions for different types of messages. These rules are algorithms that serve as automatic commands and can greatly expand Outlook's capabilities. They identify what to look for in your incoming emails and then perform a certain action when it identifies a message that meets your pre-defined conditions.

For example, creating specific Outlook email rules will let you move messages from one folder to another or automatically delete them. You can also flag certain messages as high priority and sort emails in Outlook.

Aside from these common rules, you can also make a rule in Outlook that lets you set up smart mail filters. Outlook Sweep rules let you quickly delete unwanted emails and move messages from one folder to another. Sweep rules are like special pre-defined email filters that let you apply the same action to different messages.

Important: While Outlook inbox rules and Sweep rules both help prevent your mailbox from being clogged with messages, the former runs once every 24 hours, while the latter runs as soon as you get a matching email message. Note that you can only use the Sweep rules function in the Outlook web app.

How to Create Rules in Outlook Step-by-Step

In this section, we’ll go over how to set up rules in Outlook, whether you're using the desktop or web app. Then, check out how Clean Email can help you create customizable rules even more easily.

To create a rule in Outlook on Desktop via an Existing Message:

  1. Right-click on an existing message and choose Rules, then click Create Rule.
  2. Create a Rule in Outlook Desktop AppCreate a Rule in Outlook Desktop App
  3. Choose a condition from the list and the action you want to happen for these messages. For example, you can create a rule to send specific messages to a certain folder. Choose the Subject includes condition and type in the keywords.
  4. Choose Subject includesChoose Subject includes
  5. Then, select an action Move to, and choose or create a new folder.
  6. Select an action Move toSelect an action Move to
  7. Click Save. This message will now appear in the new folder and other messages.

You also can quickly create a rule for incoming messages using the Outlook web version. For example, one rule you can create is to move messages from a specific sender to their own folder, and here’s how:

  1. Right-click on a message from a certain sender. Now select Advanced Actions, then choose Create Rule.
  2. Create a Rule in Outlook on the WebCreate a Rule in Outlook on the Web
  3. Choose the folder you want the messages to automatically move to, then click OK.
  4. Choose the folder and click OKChoose the folder and click OK
  5. Select OK again and be sure to click Run this rule now in Inbox to apply the rule to existing messages.
  6. Click Run this rule now in InboxClick Run this rule now in Inbox
  7. To perform more actions than just moving messages from senders, click More Options.
  8. A rules settings menu will appearA rules settings menu will appear
  9. A rules settings menu will appear.
    • Every rule you create needs a name, conditions, and actions. You can add multiple actions, conditions, and exemptions to your rules.
    • Click the Stop processing more rules if you don't want any others to perform at the same time.
  1. Finally, click Save, or Discard to cancel the rule.
  2. Click the Stop processing more rulesClick the Stop processing more rules

How to Delete Rules in Outlook

If you’re using the Classic Outlook desktop app and you want to delete rules in Outlook:

  1. Click File and select Manage Rules and Alerts.
  2. A new dialog box will open. From there, select the rule you want to remove and click Delete. You can also edit the rules in the same place.

If you are using the Outlook desktop app for Mac, you can also manage your rules easily:

  1. Open the app and click the Outlook menu.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. In the Email section, choose Rules.
  4. There, you can edit, delete or pause rules you have created previously, or create more by clicking New Rule.

To remove rules in or New Outlook for Windows:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right to go to Settings.
  2. Select Mail, then click Rules.
  3. Find the rule you want to remove and click Delete (trash can icon). If you want to pause a rule temporarily without removing it, click the toggle next to your selected rule.

How to Edit Email Rules in Outlook

To edit rules in or the New app for Windows:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on Mail, then select Rules.
  3. Find the rule you want to edit and then select Edit (pencil icon).
  4. Click Save to save the edited rule.

How to Set Up Rules on Mobile

Currently, Outlook mobile app (for both iOS and Android) does not support creating or managing rules directly within the app. However, you can easily set up and manage email rules on your mobile device using the Clean Email app.

Filter All Outlook Emails Automatically Using Clean Email

Setting up rules in Outlook can be especially time-consuming, but Clean Email simplifies the process. With Clean Email, you can make a rule in Outlook for specific emails with more control using its customizable options. Set Outlook rules, pause them, or restart any rules you’ve already set up.

You can go to Suggestions to explore the predefined cleaning options. This is a great alternative to manually creating rules and actions in Outlook. Clean Email makes suggestions based on similar messages that you or other Clean Email users have previously cleaned. From this tool, you can create a rule to perform the cleaning regularly and automatically.

Filter All Outlook Emails Automatically Using Clean EmailFilter All Outlook Emails Automatically Using Clean Email

Some of the suggestions that can be transformed into rules in the Clean Email app include:

  • Mark as Read All Social Notifications: All social media notifications will be automatically marked as read to reduce your notifications.
  • Archive emails as they become older than 6 months: Archive emails older than 6 months to clean up your mailbox.
  • Move to “Read Later” certain emails from your inbox: Create a rule for specific emails to send them to your “read later” folder.

If you want to create a new rule following your custom criteria, you need to use the Auto Clean feature in Clean Email:

  1. Open Clean Email and open the navigation pane. Choose Auto Clean.
  2. If this is your first time using this feature, the Auto Clean page will appear blank. Click “Create Rule” or the + symbol at the top of the page to get started.
  3. Click the Create Rule button to create a new Auto Clean ruleClick the Create Rule button to create a new Auto Clean rule

    Alternatively, you can access this feature via any of the email folders (like Inbox). Select a folder, check the box next to an email group or groups, and select the Create Rule option in the action bar.

    Auto Clean rule in Clean EmailAuto Clean rule in Clean Email
  4. When creating a new Auto Clean rule, specify the messages you want to clean automatically and then select the appropriate cleaning action:
    • If you want to create a rule for a certain category of messages, choose a folder or Smart Folder from the drop-down menu (Inbox is set by default). Select the right message status (Unread, Read, or Any), specify the message size, and choose the desired age (from any to 10 years).
    • If you want to automatically clean messages based on the sender or recipient in your specified folder, click the Choose… field and start typing the email address of the sender or recipient from whom you want to clean future messages.
Sender domain in Clean EmailSender domain in Clean Email
  1. After you’ve identified the message you want to automatically clean, select the action you want to use.
  2. Once done, click Create Rule to complete the process.

You can view the existing Rules by clicking the Auto Clean tab. Here, you can create new rules, edit rules, pause, or remove them.

Auto Clean feature with Clean EmailAuto Clean feature with Clean Email

While it is not possible to create email rules directly within the Outlook mobile app, with Clean Email, this limitation is easily overcome. The Clean Email mobile app allows you to create, modify, and manage rules on the go, providing a flexible and efficient solution for email management across all devices.

You can also review all the senders and set rules for them easily. Here's how you can automatically move emails to a folder based on the sender:

  1. Select Senders in the menu.
  2. Select the desired sender and choose Create Rule.
  3. Create a Rule in Clean EmailCreate a Rule in Clean Email
  4. Under Apply Action, click the Choose action button and pick the action you want, such as Move to.
  5. Select the destination folder for the messages.
  6. If desired, enable the toggle to apply this rule to existing messages and click Create Rule.
  7. Move Emails to a Folder in Clean Email automaticallyMove Emails to a Folder in Clean Email automatically

Clean Email also lets you access a wide range of features for managing your emails effectively. It lets you:

Smart Folders feature in Clean EmailSmart Folders feature in Clean Email
Stop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean EmailStop spam emails with Screener feature in Clean Email
Privacy Monitor feature in Clean EmailPrivacy Monitor feature in Clean Email

What You Need to Know About Outlook Rules

Achieving inbox zero feels like an impossible undertaking. On average, nearly 45.6% of all emails received worldwide were identified as spam. Daily, spam emails account for over 14 million messages globally.

When you create a rule in Outlook, you’re taking a proactive measure to keep your inbox tidy. Some of the common Outlook rules you can create include:

  • Mark as Spam: This Outlook rule lets you automatically mark emails as spam.
  • Archive: Use this rule to archive messages that you don’t want to delete yet.
  • Trash: Declutter your Outlook inbox by using this rule to send specific emails to your Trash folder.
  • Flag: Automatically flag certain messages to easily identify important ones.
  • Send to a Folder: Easily move emails to a specific folder to manage your mailbox.
  • Handle Automatic Replies: If you’re out of office, use this rule to reply to messages and tell people that you can’t respond right away.
  • Custom Alert Message: A great alternative to custom sounds, this rule lets you create unique text for specific messages.

Note that Outlook rules have three main parts:

  • Conditions: These are based on certain aspects of a message, such as the sender or recipient. You use these to determine which emails should receive an action. Once you’ve identified a condition, you can set up or edit rules in Outlook accordingly. For example, if you’ve identified a condition, you can use it as a basis for actions like forwarding or deleting emails.
  • Actions: When a message meets your pre-defined conditions, Outlook automatically executes your selected actions.
  • Exceptions: These allow you to customize your Outlook email rules further. For example, you want to set up a rule to flag all important messages, but you only want to do this for direct emails. You can create a rule in Outlook for all important emails from higher-ups (condition) but exclude mass emails (exception).

Knowing these parts will help you better understand how to create specific rules and achieve more efficient email management.


Creating a rule in Outlook gives you better control over how you manage your emails with a more organized inbox that lets you quickly identify important messages. However, setting up Outlook rules manually is a time-consuming process. If you want a straightforward, no-frills alternative, Clean Email is the solution you’re looking for.

On top of being customizable and having robust email management features, the app has a privacy-oriented focus. Clean Email will never sell or share your data with any third parties.

Easily organize your Outlook inbox and quickly create automated rules. Gain full control over your emails with Clean Email.


How do I automatically organize my emails?

Automatically organize your emails by creating rules with Clean Email’s Auto Clean feature. As soon as a message hits your inbox, it will be sorted depending on the criteria you have chosen.

How do I edit Outlook rules on the Web?

1. Select Settings (gear icon) at the top of the page, then click View All Outlook Settings.
2. Select Mail, then Rules.
3. Click the pencil icon next to the rule you want to edit and make the changes.
4. Finally, click Save.

How do I run Outlook rules on the Web via Existing Messages?

Inbox rules run by default after you have created the rule. To run on an existing message, follow these steps.
1. Select Settings at the top of the page, then click View All Outlook Settings.
2. Select Mail, then Rules.
3. Click the arrow next to a rule you want to run.

What is the limit for the number of rules you can have in Outlook?

Yes, each rule takes up space within Outlook. You are given 256KB of space for rules. While there’s no limit to how many rules you can create, if you reach this limit or quota, you won’t be able to create new rules.

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