This is for Outlook 2007, although it should be fairly close to earlier versions as well.  The example below is specifically how to filter specific recurring messages from one sender that contain the same words in the subject line – great for when you want to move those subjects to their own folder, or even delete all of those emails but keep receiving others from that person.


Go to Tools

Rules & Alerts

New Rule

choose at bottom “Check messages when they arrive”


Click NEXT


In Step 1

checkmark both

“from people or distribution list”


“with specific words in the subject”


In Step 2, click the “people or distribution list” link

enter the email of the sender in From box, click OK

click the “specific words” link

type the words to search for in the subject, such as “FSBO”

click ADD

click OK


In Step 1

Checkmark which action to take, such as

“move it to the specified folder” (if you want to put them all in a FSBO or email blast folder, or put in trash folder without it permanently deleting)


“permanently delete” (bypasses the trash folder, you won’t need step 2 if you only choose this option)


In step 2, click the specified link

Choose the proper folder

click OK


click NEXT


choose any exceptions (if you used multiple rules you probably won’t need this)


click NEXT

name the rule in case you want to change or delete it later


If you want it to “process the emails already in your inbox and apply the rule”, checkmark the box in Step 2.

Make sure “Turn on this rule” is checkmarked.



Rules and alerts in Microsoft Outlook are extremely helpful.  You can automatically flag emails for followup, color code them (the boss gets purple on my end), automatically forward them to someone else, put them in specific folders automatically, a lot of options, scroll through the options available.

Here are some specific ways I have used Outlook rules:

  • Invoices from one specific vendor that are received daily but only processed at month end:  move all emails from this specific email address with “invoice” in subject line to that vendor’s Inbox folder.  Then at month end, all of the invoices are in one place, and after I complete processing them I can clear the follow-up flag.  In my case, these invoices are sent to a secondary email address that Outlook pulls, so I also include the rule “sent to a specific email address”.
  • Emails from the boss are color coded by putting them into a specific category – purple in my case.  (Follow-up flags are red, so I wanted these to be a different, bright color).
  • Recurring company-wide email blasts that don’t apply to me are automatically moved to the trash folder.  I could also use “permanently delete” option, but in that case they don’t end up in trash, and you never know when you may need one…
  • Monthly report emails from one vendor that need to be sent to various departments are automatically forwarded using the from a specific email address, with specific words in the subject line, and with specific words in the body of the email (the vendor uses an identifiable account number that is different for each office).  I had to set up multiple rules on this one – one for each office – but I never have to touch those incoming emails again.
  • Emails with a very specific subject line – which I set up in my WordPress form – are automatically forwarded to the email address of the database that puts these people into an automatic drip email campaign, so that I no longer have to do so manually.
  • Emails I receive from one very specific email address let me know when new staff has been set up in our intranet – so I have a rule set up to automatically forward the message to our recruiter so that she also has real-time record of recruits that were hired.

What ideas do you have about how Outlook rules and alerts can help you automate some tasks for greater efficiency?  Put your ideas below!