How To Organize Email In Outlook

You will agree that there is nothing quite as satisfying as achieving Inbox Zero in your mailbox. For email users looking for how to organize email in Outlook, we are here with the perfect guide to help you get a clean Outlook inbox.

Why You Need To Know How To Organize Outlook Inbox

Everyone who uses email as their primary source of communication for business or personal purpose ought to understand the need for an organized mailbox. A cluttered mail account will lead to missing important messages, cost you valuable time navigating through your mailbox, and decrease your productivity.

Microsoft Outlook is still considered the gold standard for email clients, especially in the business world. Whether you work for yourself or as part of a larger company, chances are that you are using this email service for your online communication needs. However, email management is still a problem for many people. If you only know the basics, it can be difficult to figure out how to manage Outlook emails.

How To Organize Email In Outlook

Follow the tips below and you will never again have to worry about organizing emails in Outlook.

1. Use Outlook folders

Unlike Gmail and other popular email providers, Outlook offers a rather small number of default folders. Your everyday Outlook only has inbox, sent items, draft, deleted items, and outbox. The purpose of these folders is to help you organize your messages through proper email allocation. This is one of the ways you can organize Outlook inbox with ease. All you have to do is create various folders depending on your needs. These could be folders like work emails, meetings, marketing etc.

Once your folders are created you will have to manually move emails into the relevant folders. Unlike with Gmail, you are unable to set email filters to send emails to a custom folder as they arrive. With Outlook, you will have to do so manually which can be time-consuming. Below is how you can create folders and move emails with ease.

How to create folders in Outlook

Depending on the version of the Outlook you use the process might be slightly different.

  1. Launch the email app.
  2. At the top, you will find your ribbon with various options. At the side, there is a pane. To create a folder, in the ribbon, select the Folder tab and select New folder.
  3. In the pop-up window, type a folder name and select what you are creating the folder for. Since we are talking about emails, select “Mail and Post Items”.
  4. Next, from the default folders select where to place your folder, and then press Ok.
  5. To move messages to a created folder, simply drag them from the inbox to the created folder.

Note: when a folder is deleted, all emails in that folder will be deleted alongside.

2. Take Advantage of the Focused Inbox Feature

No matter how secure and discerning your email server is, you are still likely to receive plenty of messages that don’t require an immediate response – or any response at all. Advertisements, promotions, and regularly scheduled system check emails from a variety of programs aren’t the sort of things you need to be weeding through as you start your working day.

Outlook offers the “Focused Inbox” to push bulk emails to the “other” folder so that you will only receive important messages in your main Focused folder. The program uses algorithms to recognize emails from your regular contacts and to sort out automatically generated messages or spam.

To turn on Focused Inbox, simply go to your settings menu and choose Display settings → Focused Inbox. If an email gets through and you don’t want to see it in your Focused Inbox, right click it and choose “Move to Non-Focused.”

3. Utilize Outlook categorization

Categorization is another way you can organize Outlook email. Categorization offers you the ability to identify your emails with colors. This is a built-in Outlook feature that is quite easy to set up. Outlook offers 6 different colors you can rename into whatever category you need. This way you’ll label your emails appropriately.

How to set up email categorization

  1. In the home section of your Outlook app, select Categorization. Six colors will appear.
  2. Rename your category according to preference by checking the box in front of a color and clicking Rename.
  3. To add messages to a particular category, select the choiced email, click categorize, and assign to a color/categorization.

Again, you will have to do this manually for every single message. We recommend you categorize new emails immediately after reading them.

4. Archive and delete old messages

Another way of how to organize Outlook email is archiving and deleting old messages. Archiving is a way to get rid of old emails you might need in the future. Deleting emails means getting rid of them completely. So, if you feel you may someday need a particular message, then we recommend you send it to the archive folder. This way, your inbox still remains clean while your emails are preserved till they become important again.

How to archive emails in Outlook:

5. Use Conversation View

Conversation view has been around for a while now, but many people still aren’t aware of it. Instead of receiving multiple emails in your side pane from the same sender regarding the same topic, conversation view allows you to compile them all into one message for organization purposes. It is a much cleaner way to keep up with ongoing conversations and makes it easier to search for something that you might need more information on.

To enable Conversation View, go to the View menu, and toggle “Show as Conversations” to on.

Use Clean Email To Organize Email In Outlook

While Outlook itself is a fantastic program, there are many attachments and external email organizer programs that can enhance your experience. The Outlook app comes with few features which forces you to do everything manually. However, with an email management tool like Clean Email you don't have to.

Organize email in Outlook with Clean EmailOrganize email in Outlook with Clean Email

With Clean Email you have an ability to set automatic filters and rules to organize Outlook emails once they hit your inbox. To set up a new rule, all you need to do is to click the Create Rule button in the blue bar at the bottom of the screen, adjust the rule as you want and confirm with the Create Rule button applying an action to the required message.

Automatically send emails to Trash with Clean EmailAutomatically send emails to Trash with Clean Email

Besides the Auto Clean rules, the app also organizes emails in your Outlook inbox with the pre-set Smart Folders. For example, you can check all your Social media notifications or Finance reports in one place (the app doesn’t make any changes with your messages without your instructions).

Smart Views feature in Clean EmailSmart Views feature in Clean Email

The app can also help you to block unwelcome senders, and screen out email messages from first-time senders,send messages to the Read Later folder, and unsubscribe from all unwanted emails in one place (follow our guide on how to unsubscribe from emails on Outlook in particular.)

Unsubscribe from emails with Clean EmailUnsubscribe from emails with Clean Email

Wondering on how to organize inbox in Outlook on Mac? It's easy with a completely free Outlook email client for Mac or other tools you may want to try. Check out our top of the best email organizers for Mac.


Although Outlook is a great tool on its own, it is important that you learn how to use some of its lesser-known features so that you can enjoy more productivity and cut down on wasted time throughout the day. With these tricks on organizing emails in Outlook, you will make your inbox easier to navigate and benefit from having more time to focus on your most important tasks. Don’t forget to check out Clean Email in order to get an edge in making the most of your mailbox.

If you have a second email account, check out our guides on how to organize Gmail and how to organize iCloud emails.

How To Organize Email In Outlook - FAQs

What is the best way to organize email in Outlook?

The best ways to organize emails in Outlook are creating folders for different categories, using the Focused Inbox feature, archiving or deleting old emails, and using an email organizer for Outlook like Clean Email app.

How do you categorize emails in Outlook?

To categorize emails in Outlook, select the categorize button from the drop down ribbon and assign names to each color. Once done, simply select a message, click organize, and choose the preferred category.

How do you organize emails by subject in Outlook?

To organize emails in Outlook by subject, click on the view tab on ribbon → select the message folder you want to sort by subject → select subject. In Clean Email all you need to do is to choose the folder (All Mail, Inbox, etc.) and choose Sort by subject above the emails from this group.

How do I organize my Outlook Inbox by date?

Emails in Outlook are always categorized by date by default. Newer messages are at the top and older messages are at the bottom.

How do you prioritize emails in Outlook?

To prioritize emails, we recommend you to use folders and subfolders to cart away important messages. This way you can stay focused with only the emails that matter.

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