Outlook Rules

Outlook Rules and Policies

Chris Farmer Managed IT Support Services, Office 365

Outlook Rules and Policies can help manage your ever-growing mailbox.

If, like me, you have loads of email and some are just notifications and not important, or newsletters that are informing you of something – then getting them out of the way can help prioritise and highlight the emails you really need to deal with.

So, I use Outlook rules to place emails into folders like newsletters, for instance. Creating an Outlook Rule, I assign a policy that will delete the message after a certain amount of time.

One example is that my child’s school sends me notifications that are only relevant for that week, so I have set an Outlook Rule and Policy that:

  1. Assigns a Category and Colour to the message
  2. Applies a retention policy
Outlook Rules and Policies

As you can see, the policy is set to delete the message after 1 month and you can see this when the message is open that the Outlook rule and Policy has been applied.

Outlook Rules and Policies - Item will Expire

I have another Outlook Rule for newsletters from Vendors and Suppliers. These newsletters are moved to a folder outside of my Inbox and are then marked for deletion after a week.

You may wonder why I even bother deleting stuff with ever growing mailbox limits. Well, personally, I hate having one large mailbox but more broadly, at some point your mailbox might actually get to a size when no more mail can be sent or delivered, due to Outlook OST size limits – and this does happen as I have seen it with my own eyes!

If you are a Microsoft Office 365 Customer with the relevant plan, you can enable On-line Archive, which on many Microsoft Office 365 Plans provide 50GB of mailbox storage and 50GB of On-line Archive. With the correct or combination of plans, you can have a 100GB Primary mailbox and unlimited On-Line Archive.

The default setting for On-line Archive Policy is that all mail is tagged and will be automatically moved to the On-line Archive after 24 months. This can be adjusted by the Office 365 Administrator. This occurs in the background periodically.

When items are moved from your primary mailbox to your On-line Archive, the folder structure is retained.

However, searching for messages now becomes a little more complex when using the Outlook Client, as you need to ensure that when searching that you change from Current Mailbox to All Mailboxes.

Or use the Outlook Web Access (OWA) as that search is rapid.

Why use Outlook Rules and Policies.

Email Management is critical to managing emails and using Outlook Rules and Policies provides effective control.

To me, automated email management is critical to managing emails and using Outlook rules and policies provide effective control of all emails received. With many emails now just marketing messaging, I need an effective method to sort those away from the important message that I need to deal with.

Those marketing emails are sorted and delivered to another folder and I normally read the previous days messages the following morning. As it is marketing, special offers from travel operators or similar I do not need to retain those, that is why I use the deletion policy. This is useful to maintain a healthy mailbox from a size perspective.

Many companies provide management training for their employees, one teaching is to create just 3 folders;

  1. Important – Messages that need to be responded to immediately.
  2. Action Require – Something needs to be done and a response may need to be actioned.
  3. Information – Just for information, nothing needs to be done.

Do I need to use Outlook Rules?

You do not need to use Outlook Rules to use the Outlook Policies. You can define a policy on a folder so any email moved to the folder is tagged with that policy.

These Policies can be defined either using Microsoft Outlook on a Windows PC or within OWA, if you are using a Mac you will need to use OWA.

As you can see from the image on the right, taken from OWA you just right click on the folder and select Assign Policy and then choose the policy that you wish to define.

Outlook Rules and Policies - Folder Policies

Set and forget

You can set and forget the Outlook Rules and Policies and your mailbox will be managed, providing you with the ability to focus on the important emails that need attention and action.

Many Enterprise businesses provide training to their employees to only check their emails twice a day and provide responses during those time.

With emails being the main standard for communication within the business world, investing sometime on creating Outlook Rules and Policies is time well spent.

After a helping hand with your emails or need migrating to Office 365, read more how we can help support your IT Projects here, our email migration services here or how we can become your IT Department here.

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