Apply Categories Automatically With Rules in Outlook

Do you categorize emails (almost) without fail if they come with certain words in the "Subject" or recipients in the "Cc" line?

You do not have to expand that effort for every new message — if you take the effort to set up a rule once that will have Outlook.com apply the desired category automatically.

Have Outlook.com Apply Categories Automatically with Rules

To set up a filter in Outlook.com for having message categories added to (or removed from) incoming messages automatically:

  • Click the settings gear in Outlook.com.
  • Select More mail settings from the menu that appears.
  • Now choose Rules for sorting new messages under Customizing Outlook.
  • Click New.
    • To edit an existing rule:
      • Click Edit in the rule's line
  • Select the desired criteria for applying the filter under Step 1: Which messages do you want this rule to apply to?.
    • To categorize all messages sent to a mailing list's address, for instance, make the line read To or Cc line contains "list@example.com".
    • To set up a filter for a sender, you can also use the Categories menu.
  • Make sure Add category is selected under Step 2: What action do you want to apply?.
    • To have the rule remove a possibly present category instead:
      • Make sure Remove category is selected.
  • Click (or the existing category's name if you are editing a rule and want to change the category applied or removed).
  • Select the category you want applied automatically from the list.
  • Click Save.

To remove an existing Outlook.com rule:

  • Click the settings gear in your Outlook.com.
  • Select More mail settings from the menu that shows.
  • Follow the Rules for sorting new messages link under Customizing Outlook.
  • Make sure the filters you want to remove are checked under .
  • Click Delete.
  • Click Outlook in the toolbar if you wish to return to your Outlook.com inbox.
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