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Using Outlook Rules is an easy way to put your Inbox on Autopilot. Unlike the Quick Steps feature that you use on an item-by-item basis, the Outlook Rules will keep tabs on your incoming e-mail and deal with them automatically. So we're going to start by creating a rule for a very common scenario, and that is that your customers might make purchases from your Web site, and every time they do you receive an e-mail telling about the transaction. Now I'm going to cheat a bit by selecting one of those messages now. I'm going to show you why in a second.
I'm going to head up to the Rules icon, which is the Move section of my Home tab, and give it a click, and click on Create Rule. Now this is an easy way to create a very fast rule, because Outlook is going to try to figure out what I want, and it's going to try to determine am I looking for messages that are coming in from Sharon, or am I looking for things in the Subject line, such as New Purchase Submission? Well, I'm looking for those New Purchases, so I'm going to select that choice. Now Outlook is going to ask me what I want to do with those messages, and I'd like to move them to a folder.
In this case, I had already set up a new subfolder called, I've Gotta Sale!, and that's what I'm going to use. But I could also click on Select Folder and select a different folder, if I wanted. Now once I click OK, Outlook is going to create that rule and ask me if I'd like to run that rule now, or if I'd just like to apply it to all new e-mail that arrives on this scene. I'd really like to apply that rule now, so I'm going to run the rule and click OK.
Magically, all those e-mail messages disappear from my Inbox, but if I'd look over the I've Gotta Sale! folder, there they are. Now in the future, I can simply look at that folder and check to see if there's a number appearing in parentheses to the right of the folder name. That's an indication that new orders have arrived, and I need to act on them. Now that worked really well, but I can actually be a little fancier when I create my rules. So for now, I'm going to move all these incoming e-mail back to my Inbox and start again.
I'm going to go over to the Rules area, and this time I'm going to click on Manage Rules & Alerts. I'm going to be changing my New Purchase Submission rule, so I'm going to click on Change Rule. Now if I wanted to just make some simple changes, such as marking the e-mail as high priority or moving it to a different folder, I could choose one of those options. But I'd like to get just a little bit fancier, so I'm going to go into my Edit Rule Settings. Now basically what you're seeing here is my criteria at the top and the specific value down on the bottom; for example, I'm looking for e-mail with specific words in the subject, and down here it tells me, what those specific words are.
I'm going to expand that rule a little bit by including specific words in the body. And now I'm going to click on specific words down here and change the value to the word "red," because I'm looking for those orders that have to do with red widgets, and of course, I can add as many words as I want and then I click OK. This time I want those e-mails to move into my Red Widgets folder, so I'm going to specify the folder, give it a click and change it to my Red Widgets folder and click OK.
Now when I click Next, we can also decide on some other things that can happen when that mail arrives; for example, I might want to forward that mail on to my supervisor, to let them know that I'm going to be getting a bonus soon. When I click Next to continue I can also put in exceptions; for example, I might be looking for things that say the word red but not the word white. I'll click Next to continue. I am allowed to rename that rule.
This time I'm going to call it the Red Widget rule, and I'm going to turn the rule on now, and I can actually run this rule for all the messages that are sitting in my Inbox. I click Finish, and I click OK to close the Rules & Alerts window. Now this time it didn't act on these two messages because if I open them up, they have nothing to do with Red Widgets; however, if I go to my Red Widgets folder, I can see that all those messages specify red widgets.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could click a button to instantly organize your closet? Well, I can't promise you that, but with Outlook you can put your Inbox on Autopilot.
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