After the articles on rules in Mail and iCloud I’m going to look at Outlook today. As usual Microsoft does features a little different than Apple.

Creating a new rule

The rules for Outlook are available in the Preferences of Outlook.Preferences in Outlook

After clicking on Rules I get the Rules screen:Rules screen in Outlook

There are some interesting differences to AppleMail. I can do different rules for Exchange, IMAP, POP and outgoing emails. That rules are available for outgoing emails makes some workflows possible that can’t be done for AppleMail. Rules for AppleMail are always done for incoming emails.

At the bottom of the screen I click on the plus icon to make a new rule:

Creating a rule is quite similar to AppleMail. I can give the rule a nice name. Then there are areas for the conditions (2), the actions (3) and if all rules or any rule should be applied (1).


Conditions have 3 parts: the filter, the operator and the value.

The list of filters in Outlook is quite long:List of filters in Outlook

There are the „usual suspects“ of From, To and Subject. But you can’t filter on message content for IMAP accounts. Why searching for the message content is only available for POP or Exchange is quite baffling. Filtering for mailing list or not seems like a good idea.

I selected From as field to filter and got a long list of operators:Operators in Outlook

This looks like overkill and similar to filtering in Excel.

As with AppleMail it’s possible to do multiple conditions. Outlook fills in the value field for the selected email.


The action list is again rather long:Actions in Outlook

There are the usual actions like move, copy and delete. But there is also the possibility to add a to-do or not to do a notification. Why would I automatically change the characters set? Again it’s possible to do multiple actions.

I selected to move the message. There is no list of mailboxes. That is not a bad idea because most users have lots and lots of mailboxes. Scrolling through such a list is no fun. Instead there is a search window where I can type the mailbox I want to select:

(Yes, I have a long list of test mailbox with nonsense names). I clicked on Choose and finally got my rule finished:Defined rule in Outlook

In AppleMail there is an extra action not to evaluate rules after a rule was matched. In Outlook there is a checkbox „Do not apply other rules to messages that meet these conditions instead“. Which isn’t a bad idea.


If I only have one condition it doesn’t matter if all or only one condition is met. If I have multiple conditions then I need to set the value of the dropdown menu at (1).

As always Outlook is doing things differently. I not only have the selection of all and any conditions. But I can also define negative conditions:

The first 2 values in the menu are the usual all and any. With the values 3 and 4 I can define negative conditions: unless all and unless any. The wording with the unless is less than clear, though. In German the wording is even worse.

At a forum a user wanted to have notifications in AppleMail for incoming emails except for one account. The user had to add conditions for all accounts except one. In Outlook the user would have to do only one condition for the account he/she wants to exclude. Then the all/any selection would have been one of the negative ones to exclude the account.

After clicking on the OK button I saved the rule:Saved rule

I can now edit the rule by double-clicking it (why isn’t there an edit button at the bottom?). The rule can be deleted by clicking on the minus button.

Synchronising rules between computers?

I wasn’t able to find anything on Goggle in regards to synchronising rules between computers. There are a couple of apps that handle synching on Windows.


Rules in Outlook are a bit different compared to AppleMail. That the rules can be applied to outgoing emails is a very good idea. However, it doesn’t seem possible to apply the rules manually. The omission of searching for message content is very odd. Having negative rules allows some simplification of complex rules.

Without synchronising rules between computers using Outlook with rules is going to be very annoying.