Using Rules

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Using Rules

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Using Rules Rules, or filters as they're called in some email programs, are an important method for email management.

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  1. [ Team LiB ] Using Rules Rules, or filters as they're called in some email programs, are an important method for email management. Uses for rules include moving messages to other folders; adding flags, reminders, or categories to messages; and sending replies to messages that meet specific conditions. Rules can be used for spam control, although they really aren't the best way to manage unwanted mail, especially considering the large amounts of spam many people get. Instead, you should use the Junk E-mail filter included in Outlook 2003 or one of the numerous third-party anti-spam programs that are available. Junk email filters work with POP3 and HTTP (Hotmail) when the full message is downloaded, and Exchange Server when you use a local store (cached mode). Creating a Rule from a Message Organizer is simple and builds simple rules, but it's not the only way to quickly make a simple rule. Right-click on any message and choose Create Rule. The dialog shown in Figure 14.3 opens. Figure 14.3. The Create Rule dialog enables you to customize the conditions of a rule to suit your needs.
  2. Using Create Rules, you can create a rule using the From, To, or Subject field and display the item in the Desktop Alert dialog (shown in Figure 14.10), play a specific sound, or move the message to a folder. Figure 14.10. The New Alert window is a small window that contains a custom message and a list of new mail that meets the conditions of the rule. This isn't the same as the semitransparent desktop alert used for all new mail. The Advanced Options button opens the Rules Wizard at the Select Conditions dialog, as shown later in Figure 14.6. Complete the rule using the wizard. Figure 14.6. You can choose as many conditions as you need from this list. However, each condition uses the AND operator to connect with the other conditions. The more conditions you have, the fewer messages you'll catch.
  3. You can select a message just by right-clicking on it; it doesn't have to be highlighted in blue. When a message has a dotted outline around it, any option you choose from the context menu applies to the item you right-clicked. This enables you to work with messages without loading them into the Reading Pane. Using the Rules Wizard To create more complex rules, you need Outlook's Rules Wizard. You can open the Rules Wizard dialog using the Tools, Rules and Alerts menu selection. Rules and Alerts is shown in Figure 14.4, although your dialog might not have any rules listed yet. Figure 14.4. Use the Rules and Alerts dialog to create rules that help manage your messages.
  4. Use this dialog to manage your rules. From here, you can create new rules, edit existing rules, and run your existing rules on any mail folder. Task: Create Rules To create a new rule: 1. Select Tools, Rules and Alerts menu (refer to Figure 14.4) and click the New Rule button to open the Rules Wizard. 2. For this exercise, we'll create a rule using a template, which is the default setting. Because I use two computers and send myself files by email, I have the files on both computers. I want to file the messages I send myself in a folder, so I'm choosing the first item, Move Messages from Someone to a Folder (see Figure 14.5). Figure 14.5. The rule description shows you what the selected template does.
  5. The template I selected moves mail from people or distribution lists to a specified folder. When you need a rule that doesn't seem to fit any of the items listed, choose Start from a Blank Rule and then choose Check Messages When They Arrive or Check Messages After Sending. 3. If the selected template does exactly what you want, click on the underlined words in the description field. In this example, click on People or Distribution List and Specified folder. The Rule Address dialog opens so that you can choose people from your address book. You don't need to create contacts to use an address—just type the address in the To field. Use the condition for specific words in the sender address to apply a rule to a partial address; for example, to flag all messages from Microsoft.com addresses. 4.
  6. 5. If these are the only conditions and actions you need for your rule, click Finish. To choose additional conditions or actions, click Next. 6. After you click Next, the Rules Wizard presents you with a list of conditions from which you can choose (see Figure 14.6). When you add a check to a condition, it's entered in the rule description box at the bottom of the screen. Click on the underlined fields in the description box to complete the condition. Click Next when you're ready to select the actions. 7. Now you must choose the action you want Outlook to perform when the conditions you've selected are met. My rule adds a purple flag and moves the messages to a folder (see Figure 14.7). Click Next after selecting the actions and completing the value fields. Figure 14.7. Select the actions you want to apply to messages that meet your conditions. Include the Stop Processing More Rules action in all your rules unless you want other rules to apply to the message.
  7. Unless Outlook is told otherwise, it checks every message with every rule, in the order the rules are listed in the Rules and Alerts dialog. When a message meets the conditions in two or more rules, the results might not be what you expected. You can prevent problems by using the Stop Processing More Rules action, found near the bottom of the actions list. 8. On the next screen, you can select exceptions to the rule you've defined. This feature is useful when you want a rule to apply to messages that meet specific conditions, except when a different condition exists. Click Next to continue. 9. You're now on the final page of the Rules Wizard (see Figure 14.8), which enables you to specify a name for the rule and to set a few basic options. In most cases, the default settings are what you want to use, except for the name of your rule. Outlook usually creates a really long name for most rules, and you might want to enter a shorter name. Add a check to Run This Rule on Messages Already in Inbox if you want to run the rule on messages you've already downloaded. Figure 14.8. The final step in the Rules Wizard enables you to assign a name to your new rule and run it on existing messages.
  8. Because you might create rules for future use that you don't currently need, the Turn On This Rule check box enables you to disable the rule temporarily. The Create This Rule on All Accounts option is available only when you have more than one email account that works with rules in your profile. It creates a copy of the rule for each account. Keep in mind that rules do not run on HTTP accounts. Fine-Tuning Your Rules If you left Run This Rule unchecked and decide later that you want to run the rule on messages already in Outlook, you can choose Run Rules Now from the Rules and Alerts dialog (refer to Figure 14.4). When selected, the Run Rules Now dialog opens, as shown in Figure 14.9. Figure 14.9. Use Run Rules Now to apply actions to messages later. You can apply the rule to all messages, only to unread messages, or only to messages marked as
  9. read. Run Rules Now enables you to apply rules to any folder at any time. When you create a rule specifically to use it later, deselect Turn On This Rule, shown previously in Figure 14.8. When you want to run the rule, open the Rules and Alerts dialog and choose Run Rules Now. Run Rules Now is helpful when you want to delete or move sent items. If you create a rule to use when sending, the sent messages are copied, not moved. You can run a rule on the Sent folder later to move the messages. Rules are stored in the message store in Outlook 2003. If you open the message store with an older version of Outlook, you risk losing your rules. Use the Options button on the Rules and Alerts dialog, as shown in Figure 14.4, to export your rules for safekeeping or to import to another computer. Rules are not imported or exported when you use File, Import and Export to copy messages between message stores. You'll have to use the Rules and Alert's Option dialog to import and export rules.
  10. If you're upgrading from an older version of Outlook, you can upgrade your existing rules to Outlook 2003's format from the Options dialog. After the rules are upgraded, they won't work with older versions of Outlook. In most cases, the first time you run Outlook, it will offer to upgrade your rules. If you choose No and change your mind later, you can use Upgrade Now to convert them. After you've created some rules, you can use the Rules and Alerts dialog to manage them. Using the buttons above the list of rules, you can open the New Rule dialog, make quick changes to the selected rule, copy or delete the selected rule, change the order in which rules are run, and import or export your rules using the Options dialog. The Change Rule menu contains a list of the most popular actions and enables you to quickly add an action to an existing rule without opening the rule for editing. It displays only the dialogs you need to complete the rule, such as a dialog to choose the flag color. These menus are toggles, so any action applied using this menu is removed when you select the menu again. Actions available on the Change Rule menu include • Edit Rule Settings— Opens the Rules Wizard to the Select Conditions dialog, enabling you to edit the selected rule. • Rename Rule— Enables you to rename the selected rule. The following actions apply to the selected rule without opening the actions screen. Hold the Shift or Ctrl key while selecting rules to apply the action to all the selected rules. • Display in the New Alert Window (see Figure 14.10). • Play a Sound • Move to Folder • Copy to Folder • Mark As High Priority • Mark As Low Priority • Flag Message • Delete Message As mentioned previously, selecting an item from this menu toggles the action on or off. Choose Copy when you need to create a rule that's similar to an existing rule because it's often easier to change the fields than it is to create the rule again. When you no longer want a rule to run, you'll usually uncheck the box beside the rule name. When you're sure that you'll never need a rule again, select it and choose Delete.
  11. Outlook runs rules in the order they're listed in Rules and Alerts. Use the blue arrow buttons to change the order in which the rules are run. The order of rules doesn't usually matter, especially if you use the Stop Processing More Rules action in all of your rules. However, if you're having problems with the wrong rules firing on certain messages, try rearranging the order of the rules. Select the rule, and then click the up or down arrow to move it. As mentioned previously, look for Import and Export in Options. Using Rules with Your Email Accounts You can use the Rules Wizard on POP3 accounts, on Exchange Server accounts, and for the Inbox on IMAP accounts when you download the full message during a send and receive. Rules do not work on HTTP accounts, either as the messages are downloading or by using Run Rules Now. Using rules with IMAP accounts has two limitations. First, for the rules to run automatically, the messages must be downloaded completely when you check for new mail. Second, you can't use a rule to move messages to another IMAP folder; however, you can move messages from an IMAP folder to a folder in your local message store. You might notice that your rules have the On This Machine Only condition added. On This Machine Only is an Exchange Server option, and it's automatically added to all rules created for non-Exchange accounts because you can't store rules on the server for the other accounts. Use it when you access your Exchange mailbox from more than one computer and want a server-side rule to work only on one computer or need to force a rule to be client-side. Outlook 2003 enables you to create rules specific to each account in your profile. These rules will run only on messages received on the specific account. When using this with POP3 accounts, use the Through the Specified Account condition in the Rules Wizard and select the proper account from the list. When the profile has both POP3 or Exchange Server accounts and an IMAP account, you must select the IMAP account in the Apply Changes to This Folder list. If you have multiple POP3 and IMAP accounts in your profile, you'll notice that the Apply Changes to This Folder drop-down list displays all of your IMAP accounts separately but all of your POP3 accounts are combined on one entry. This is because all POP3 and Exchange Server accounts use the same message store and the list applies to the Inbox folder used by the accounts.
  12. Exchange Server users have two types of rules available: client-side rules that run only when Outlook is open and sever-side rules that run as new messages arrive. When used in a rule, the following conditions and actions will create a client-side rule and will run only when Outlook is opened. Conditions • With specific words in recipient's address • With specific words in sender's address • Flagged for action • Assigned to category • With specific words in the subject or message, when multiple phrases are used Actions • Display a specific message in the New Alert window • Display a desktop alert • Flag message for action in a number of days • Flag message with a colored flag • Clear the message flag • Assign it to a category • Play a sound • Start an application • Run a script • Print it • Move it to the specified folder (not found in your mailbox, including public folders or in a PST) • Move a copy to the specified folder (not found in your mailbox, including public folders or in a PST) • Reply using a specific template • Perform a custom action • On this machine only Rules used with Exchange server mailboxes are limited to 32KB of data. The exact number of rules available on the server side is dependent on the length of the condition or action used in each rule. You can have a greater number of rules if they're simple with short folder names or addresses, fewer when they're complex or contain long folder names. [ Team LiB ]
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