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Create filter (email rule) in Hotmail / Outlook.com

Create mail filters for your Hotmail account Outlook.com supports basic email rules (aka "mail filters") to automate filling messages, forwarding them to another email address, even deleting them while bypassing the Deleted folder (definitely not a rule you should use!), automatically assigning or removing a category from matched messages, or flagging them. Use filters in conjunction with Hotmail's other automation tools, including your configurable Spam settings, blocking senders and domains, and convenience tools like "Instant Actions" (buttons to quickly move your emails to predetermined folders) - this tutorial also shows you how to temporarily disable rules you no longer need, and how to delete them (which cannot be undone).

FYI: the filters you can setup in Outlook.com aren't as advanced as the ones found in desktop email programs (MS Outlook, Windows Live Messenger, Mac Mail...) But, unlike filters created on the desktop, server-side filters run as soon as emails reach your account, ensuring a consistent treatment. If you only check messages from one email program, you might be better off with desktop-side rules; either way, setup Hotmail as IMAP in the mail client that handles filters!

Quick Steps to setup mail filters in Outlook.com:

  1. 1 Login and go to your inbox.
  2. 2 Click on the gear icon (top right), and choose Manage rules.
  3. 3 Click New to create a new filter.
  4. 4 Configure the filter's conditions, and its action(s).
  5. 5 Click Create rule to add it to your account.
  6. 6 Click on the trash icon to delete existing rules.
  7. 7 Click on the Outlook.com logo to return to your inbox.

1) Setup the matching rule for your mail filter

Configure Hotmail / Outlook.com account settings First, log into your Hotmail account; from your inbox, click on the Settings button (gear icon in top right corner), and choose "Options" from the dropdown menu. On the next page, click on the "Rules for sorting new messages" link (fourth link under the last section on the right, "Customizing Outlook.com").

Match incoming messages with your mail filter Then, click on the New button to add a rule.

You'll end up on a screen that starts by collecting the criteria to match the target messages; click on the first dropdown menu, and one of five pieces of information:

Note: images embedded in the message body ("Base64 encoding"), or by referencing online pictures within the body, do not have attachments, and won't be filtered by such a mail rule.

2) Create an action for your email rule

Now that you've determined which messages to match, let's define how to handle them. Under "What action do you want to apply?" Hotmail lets you pick between one of five types of actions:

3) Save your new rule

When you are done, click on the blue Save button at the bottom: if there is no problem with your matching criteria or action, Hotmail will redirect you to the main Rules for sorting messages screen, where you'll find your new rule (automatically named!). Click on the Outlook.com logo in the top left corner of the page to return to your inbox, or click New to setup another filter. New Outlook.com mail filter successfully created!

Temporarily disable an email rule

Temporarily deactivate mail filters You don't necessarily need to delete an email rule when you no longer need it! Just click on the Edit link next to it in the main Rules screen, and change the condition to something unmatchable - like setting the sender's name to gibberish :) Once you want to reactivate the filter, just replace the matching condition with the original one, and save the change!

Permanently delete a mail filter

Permanently remove email rules To delete a filter, check its checkbox, and click on the Delete button: it will be removed from the list, and messages it matched will simply go to your inbox. Messages it already moved will not be affected (they'll stay wherever they currently are).

The checkbox over the blue background lets you select all rules with a single click - be careful that it's not checked when you click on the Delete button!

View Hotmail filters from your inbox! Tip: you now know how to access your mail filters from the Options screen. Here's another (quick!) way to view your email rules from any other page. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner, and choose "Manage rules" from the dropdown menu - you'll land straight on your filter listing!

Create super-powerful filters, with more conditions and actions

Advanced email filters in Microsoft Outlook Hotmail's webmail client (the web-browser-based version of Outlook.com) keeps things simple when it comes to filters. But you have many more filters at your disposal when using a desktop email program like Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail / Outlook Express, Mac Mail, Thunderbird, etc. You just need to setup your Outlook.com email account, as IMAP, with the Hotmail server settings. This would allow you all kinds of new actions, whose limits are set by your desktop email program, and no longer by Outlook.com!

Advanced actions in (for example) Microsoft Outlook

Outlook 2010 To give you an idea, here are some of the actions available in Outlook 2007 / 2010 / 2013: move message to a folder, assign category, clear category, move to trash, permanently delete, automatically reply to a message (like a vacation reply), copy the message to a folder, forward the message, forward message as attachment, flag or unflag messages, assign an importance (aka priority level), automatically print the message (!), play a sound, automatically start a desktop application, automatically mark the message as read, run a script, etc. As you can tell, the possibilities are truly amazing! Keep that in mind before handling mail with Yahoo Mail's own filters. And remember that this is most useful when using IMAP.

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