I use Office for work. Frequently, I will get a massive amount of work emails in my mailbox.

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A regular Monday morning. This includes 0 unwanted emails, only work.

I would love to know if there is a way for me to automate the sorting of these emails into folders, based on text elements in the subject.

Ideally, these emails would sort themselves out and I would be able to retrieve them when needed from the folders they're in or with a search.

  • 1
    Doesn't Outlook on the Web offer the same sort of Rules engine that the desktop version of Outlook does?
    – ale
    Jul 12, 2016 at 14:27
  • @AlE. That's a good question. I am not a user of the desktop version - if you have a link of what you think might work I'd try it! Thanks Jul 12, 2016 at 15:14
  • I was interested in this subject, too, and want to add the contents of the link from the accepted answer in a separate post because the OP who posted it doesn't react. I'm also going to add the list of the "conditions" and "actions" because Microsoft's own support page doesn't include them.
    – Montag451
    Jul 21, 2016 at 8:24

3 Answers 3


From the support page which explains the rules of the Inbox for the Outlook Web App:

Create Inbox rules in Outlook Web App to automatically perform specific actions on messages as they arrive, based on your criteria. For example, you can create a rule to automatically move all mail sent to a group you're a member of to a specific folder.

To manage rules:

  1. Sign in to Outlook Web App. For help, see Sign in to Outlook Web App.

  2. At the top of the page, choose Outlook (or Mail). Or, choose the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon > Mail.

enter image description here

  1. At the top of the page, select Settings Settings icon > Options.

  2. In Options, select Organize email > Inbox rules. Or, in Options, under MAIL > Automatic processing, select Inbox rules.

How do I create a new rule?

To create a new blank rule using the Inbox rules page, choose new new.

Type in the name for your rule into the "Name" box.

The new rule window has three sections:

1. When the message arrives and it matches all of these conditions

Use this box to select criteria for your rule. Use the down arrow to view and select the criteria you want to use.

If the criteria have additional options, enter them in the window that appears.

The list of conditions and their criteria options:

  • It was sent or received (Received from.../Sent to.../Received through this account...)
  • It includes these words (in the subject.../in the subject or body.../in the sender's address.../in the body.../in the recipient's address.../in the message header...)
  • My name is (in the To or CC box/the only recipient listed/in the To box/in the CC box/not in the To box)
  • It's marked with (an importance.../a sensivity...)
  • It's (accompanied by an attachment/of the type.../classified as.../flagged as...)
  • Its size is within the specified range...
  • It's received within a specific date span...
  • [Apply to all messages]

2. Do all of the following

Use this box to select the action you want taken when a message arrives that meets the criteria you selected.

The list of actions and their criteria options:

  • Move, copy, or delete (Move the message to folder.../Copy the message to folder.../Delete the message)
  • Pin the message
  • Mark the message (as read/as junk/with importance/with a category)
  • Forward, redirect, or send (Forward the message to.../Forward the message as an attachment to.../Redirect the message to.../Send a text message to...)

3. Except if it matches any of these conditions

The exception conditions are the same as the "Conditions" list. Add exceptions to a rule by selecting Add Exception.

Turn on or turn off the option to stop processing more rules. By default, the option to stop processing more rules is turned on. With this option on, when a message comes in that meets the criteria for more than one rule, only the first rule will be applied. Without this setting, all rules that the message meets the criteria for are applied.

For example, without Stop processing more rules selected, if you have a rule to move all messages sent to a public group to a particular folder and another rule to move anything from your manager to another folder, and your manager then sends a message to that group, you'll find a copy of the message in both folders. If you want only the rule that moves messages from your manager to be applied, put that rule higher in the list than the rule that moves messages sent to the group, and then edit the first rule to add the option to stop processing more rules.

How do I edit a rule?

You can edit any rule by selecting it and choosing enter image description here edit to open the rule so that you can change the conditions or actions of the rule.

How do I delete a rule?

If you have a rule that you no longer want, you can select it and then click enter image description here delete to remove it. If you just want to turn the rule off for a while, remove the check mark next to the rule.

What else do I need to know?

  • When you create a new rule in Outlook Web App, you may receive a warning that some rules that were created in Outlook and are currently disabled will be deleted. Before you delete those rules, you may want to sign in to your account using Outlook and check the rules to see if you want to keep them. Enable any rules you want to keep.

  • Rules are run from top to bottom in the order in which they appear in the Rules window. To change the order of rules, click the rule you want to move, and then click the enter image description here up or enter image description here down arrow to move the rule to the position you want in the list.

  • Some types of messages won't trigger Inbox rules, including:

    • Delivery status notifications, which include non-delivery reports and system messages.

    • Read receipts and delivery receipts that are generated by an e-mail client.

    • Some automatic-reply (Out of Office) messages.

  • You don't have to use the Inbox rules tab to create a rule. You can also create rules directly from messages. To create a rule directly from a message:

    • Right-click the message in the message list pane, then select Create rule.

    • Or while you view the message in the reading pane, select the extended menu extended menu and then select Create rule from the menu.

  • Each rule you create will take up space in a hidden section of your mailbox. This section is limited to 64 KB. The actual amount of space a rule uses depends on several factors, such as how long the name is and how many conditions you've applied. When you reach the 64 KB limit, you'll be warned that you can't create any more rules. If that happens, you'll have to delete or simplify some of your existing rules before you can create more. Some ways you can reduce the space used by rules are:

    • Delete rules you no longer need.

    • Shorten the names of your rules.

    • Combine one or more rules that do the same thing.

    • Remove criteria from rules.

  • When you create a forwarding rule, you can add more than one address to forward to. The number of addresses you can forward to may be limited, depending on the settings for your account. If you add more addresses than are allowed, your forwarding rule won’t work. If you create a forwarding rule with more than one address, test it to be sure it works.

  • Great job! Cutting it close to the deadline, but hey here's +50 points of XP that I think you'll find useful :D I couldn't find if that was possible to use punctuation in the rules (for example move emails with "+center" but not the ones with "center"). Maybe I'll ask another question later, but if you know about this I'd love to know. Quotation marks didn't work. Jul 21, 2016 at 15:55

You can set filters in Outlook to do what you need.

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Inbox-rules-in-Outlook-Web-App-edea3d17-00c9-434b-b9b7-26ee8d9f5622 will be a good starting point.

  • 2
    Adding essential contents of the link into answer would be more helpful.
    – serenesat
    Jul 14, 2016 at 9:13
  • Agreed with @serenesat Jul 14, 2016 at 14:59

An alternative is to use a desktop application e.g. "Thunderbird" to aggregate all your accounts into one client then use "message filters" to define rules.

Doing it this way you can filter all mail even from separate accounts into a single folder.

  • Good suggestion! However, does Thunderbird support two-step verification? (genuinely asking) Jul 21, 2016 at 16:35
  • As far I know yes and no. No in that when you log in via Thunderbird there would be no 2-step process initiated BUT you can log in via an "app specific password". The way it works is you would pre-authenticate your device that has Thunderbird installed via a generated password from your outlook account. The device could hence forth log-in without having to input any password. Obviously if a person has physical access to your device they can access your account without any 2-step process requirement. Otherwise 2-step should work as per usual from non pre-authorized devices and the web.
    – Nemo
    Jul 23, 2016 at 10:45

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