How to Make Email Rules in Outlook.com

Manage your mail automatically with email rules

Too much email
Manage Your Email. erhui1979 / Getty Images

Email rules let you handle incoming emails automatically so you can have Outlook.com redirect and organize emails.

For example, maybe you like to have all messages from a particular sender immediately go to the "Deleted Items" folder upon receipt. An email rule can trigger this type of automation.

Rules can also move an email to a specific folder, forward an email, mark the message as junk, and more.

 These instructions apply with any email account that you use on Outlook.com including @hotmail.com, @live.com, and @outlook.com.

Outlook.com Inbox Rules

To set up automatic mail inbox rules in Outlook.com, follow these steps.

  1. Log into your Outlook.com account at Outlook.Live.com.

  2. Open the Mail settings menu by clicking the gear icon at the top of the page. Scroll down and click View all Outlook settings.

    Screenshot of accessing Outlook settings in Outlook online
  3. In the Settings window, go to Mail in the navigation bar, and click Rules then Add new rule.

    Screenshot of adding a new rule in Outlook online settings
  4. In the Rules window, type a name for the rule.

    Screenshot of naming a rule in the Rules window
  5. Choose a condition from the Add a condition menu.

    Screenshot of adding a rules condition in Outlook online
  6. You can include more conditions by clicking Add another condition. Conditions include words or phrases in an email subject or body, who the email is from or to, and whether it has an attachment. See below for the full list.

  7. Next, select the action that should happen when the condition(s) are met from the Add an Action drop-down menu. You can add more by clicking Add another action.

    Screenshot of adding an action in Outlook online
  8. If you want the rule not to run given a specific circumstance, click Add exception. The exception menu has the same options as the condition menu.

    Screenshot of adding rule exception in Outlook online
  9. Check the box next to Stop processing more rules if you want to make sure that no other rules will apply after this one. Rules run in the order that they are listed (you can change the order once you save the rule). Click OK to save the rule.

  10. Outlook will now check incoming emails against the condition (s) you selected and apply the rule(s) you create.

Available Conditions in Outlook.com

There is a long list of conditions you can apply when you create a new rule. You can set up one or more of these rules to trigger which emails get managed automatically.

  • From or To: The email is sent from or to specific people.
  • You're a Recipient: You're on the To or Cc lines, or you're not on the To or Cc lines.
  • Subject or Body: Certain words or phrases exist in the subject or body.
  • Keywords: The body, sender or recipient email, or even the header contains specific keywords.
  • Marked with: The message is marked important or sensitive.
  • Message Size: The email is above or below a specific size.
  • Received: You received the email before or after a specific date.
  • All messages: The rule will apply to every incoming message.

Available Actions in Outlook.com

You can set up any number of actions to occur when an email meets any of the conditions you set.

Actions you can trigger include the following.

  • Move to: Move the message to a particular folder.
  • Copy to: Create a copy and place it in a folder.
  • Delete: Automatically delete the email.
  • Pin to top: Keep the email at the top of your inbox.
  • Mark as read: This will unbold the email as though you already read it.
  • Mark as junk: Moves the email to the spam (junk) folder.
  • Mark with importance: Will flag the email as important.
  • Categorize: Apply any category to the email.
  • Forward to: Forwards the email to any email address you like.
  • Forward as attachment: Forwards the email to another address as an attachment.
  • Redirect to: Send the email to another address, removing it from your inbox.

You can configure multiple actions to occur an email meets to conditions you've set.