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Filtering Emails in Outlook

Outlook offers significant configuration options for handling incoming messages. In this guide, you will find instructions on blocking a sender, marking a sender as safe, and creating or removing inbox ruless.

Blocking or Marking a Sender as Safe

If you notice legitimate emails ending up in your Junk Email folder in Outlook, you can mark the sender of these emails as safe. Conversely, if spam messages appear in your inbox, you can block the sender or domain. Blocking or marking a sender as safe is a quick and straightforward process, but has more limited configuration options. If you require a more complex rule, please see Creating an Inbox Rule.

In addition to blocking or marking a sender as safe, you may follow the steps detailed in this guide to report an email as malicious, or to report a false positive or false negative: https://www.uvm.edu/it/kb/article/spam-and-phishing.

Marking a Sender as Safe in Outlook on the Web

  1. In Outlook on the Web, select Options under the the gear icon in the top right corner
  2. Expand the Mail subheading, and then expand Accounts and select Block or allow
  3. Under the section marked Safe Senders and Recipients, enter the sender or domain, and then add them by clicking the plus sign (+)

    Other options

    From here, you may also elect to:

    • Edit the selected sender or domain by clicking on the pencil
    • Delete the selected sender or domain by clicking on the trash can

  4. Click Save to confirm your changes

Blocking a Sender in Outlook on the Web

  1. In Outlook on the Web, select Options under the the gear icon in the top right corner
  2. Expand the Mail subheading, then expand Accounts and select Block or allow
  3. Under the section marked Blocked Senders, enter the sender or domain, then add them by clicking the plus sign (+)

    Other options

    From here, you may also elect to:

      • Edit the selected sender or domain by clicking on the pencil
      • Delete the selected sender or domain by clicking on the trash can

  4. Click Save to confirm your changes.

Enable Automatic filtering of Junk Email

For the instructions above to be effective, automatic filtering of junk email must be enabled. This option is typically enabled by default. If it is not, you can enable it by following these instructions.

  1. In Outlook on the Web, select Options under the the gear icon in the top right corner
  2. Expand the Mail subheading, and then expand Accounts and select Block or allow
  3. In the section marked Block or allow, select Automatically filter junk email, and then click Save

Marking a Sender as Safe in Outlook for Microsoft 365

Quickly mark a single flagged sender as safe

If you have an email in your junk folder from the sender in question, you can select the message first, and then in step 1 you can simply click Never Block Sender instead of Junk Email Options. If you do this, you can skip the rest of the steps.

  1. Select the Home tab, and then expand the Junk drop-down and click Junk E-mail Options
  2. Select the Safe Senders tab and click Add
  3. Enter the address or domain name you wish to mark as safe and click OK
  4. Click OK at the bottom of the Junk Email Options window to confirm changes

Blocking a Sender in Outlook for Microsoft 365

Quickly block a single sender

If you have an email from the sender in question, you can select the message first, and then in step 1 you can simply click Block Sender instead of Junk Email Options. If you do this, you can skip the rest of the steps.

  1. Select the Home tab, and then expand the Junk drop-down and click Junk E-mail Options
  2. Select the Blocked Senders tab and click Add
  3. Enter the address or domain name you wish to block and click OK
  4. Click OK at the bottom of the Junk Email Options window to confirm changes

Creating an Inbox Rule

Inbox rules can automatically move mail from your inbox to a selected folder, categorize messages by custom criteria, forward mail to another address, and much more.

Click here if you are looking for specific instructions on how to Forward Email to Another UVM or COM Email address.

Protect sensitive information

Faculty and Staff are prohibited from forwarding UVM email to a non-UVM address. Please read the UVM Information Security Policy.

Creating an Inbox Rule in Outlook on the Web

  1. In Outlook on the Web, select Options under the the gear icon in the top right corner.
  2. Expand the Mail subheading, and then expand Automatic processing and select Inbox and Sweep Rules
  3. Create a new inbox rule by clicking on the plus sign (+)
    Other options

    From here, you may also elect to:

    • Edit the selected rule by clicking on the pencil
    • Delete the selected rule by clicking on the trash can
    • Adjust the order that the rules are applied using the arrows

  4. Once you’ve clicked the plus (+) sign, you will see a similar dialogue box to the one below
  5. The Name box is used to identify this rule in your list of Inbox rules on the previous page, so you should use a descriptive name
  6. To configure the triggers for this rule, make the proper drop-down selection under the When a message arrives, and it matches all of these conditions option
    • Select It was sent or received if you want to filter messages from specific senders, or messages with specific recipients
    • Select It includes these words if you want to filter messages that contain specific words or phrases
    • Select My name is if you want to filter messages sent to your account, messages where your account is the only recipient, where your account is CC’d, or messages where your account is not the primary account being contacted
    • Select It’s marked with if you want to filter messages that have elevated importance or sensitivity based on the message options
    • Select It’s if you want to filter messages with attachments, or messages of a specific type, classification, or flag
    • Select Its size is within the specified range if you want to filter messages based on size
    • Select It’s received within a specific date span if you want to filter messages based on when they were received
  7. To configure the effects for this rule, make the proper drop-down selection under the Do all the following option
    • Select Move, copy, or delete if you want the filtered messages to be moved or copied to a specific folder, or deleted
    • Select Pin the message if you want to pin the filtered messages
    • Select Mark the message if you want the filtered message to be marked as read, marked as junk, marked with a specific level of importance, or marked with a specific category
    • Select Forward, redirect, or send if you want the filtered message to be forwarded to a specific address, forwarded as an attachment to a specific address, redirected to a specified address, or sent as an SMS text message to another address
      NOTE:

      When forwarding a message, the rule adds “FW:” to the subject, changes the body of the email to contain the original message as well as its history, and sends the message to the specified account. The recipient sees that the message came from you. When redirecting a message, the message is sent, unchanged, to the specified account. To the recipient, the message appears as though it came directly from the original sender. 

  8. To add an exception, click Add Exception under Except if it matches any of these conditions
  9. After your inbox rule is properly configured, click OK at the top of the screen to create the rule

You should now see the rule with a check mark next to it in the list of Inbox and Sweep Rules.

Creating an Inbox Rule in Outlook for Microsoft 365

  1. Select the Home tab
  2. Expand the Rules drop-down and click Manage Rules & Alerts
  3. In the Rules and Alerts window, click New Rule
  4. Some popular rules have templates you can select; otherwise, select one of the blank rules at the bottom and click next
    Editing rule descriptions

    Any conditions, actions, and exceptions that contain underlined values require you to make more specific selections. For example, a condition that triggers on a message arriving “from people or public group” will require you to specify the person or public group. Click on the underlined value to open a window that will let you select the appropriate choice(s).

  5. On the first page of the Rules Wizard, select any conditions that you would like to trigger the rule, make any necessary edits, and click Next
  6. On the next page, select any actions that you would like to perform when the rule triggers, make any necessary edits, and click Next
  7. On the third page, select any exceptions to the rule that you would like to add (if any), make any necessary edits, and click Next
  8. On the final page, specify a descriptive name for the rule, ensure Turn on this rule is checked, and click Finish

You should now see the rule with a check mark next to it in the list of Email Rules.

Removing Client-Side Rules

In Outlook (and other email clients), it’s possible to create rules that only affect the client on which they are configured. This typically happens if you try to create a rule that can’t be processed by Exchange, such as one that prints an email. If you try to create a rule like this, Outlook will warn you that the rule will be client-side only, and it will ask you to confirm.

Client-side rules will not carry over to a new computer, device, alternate email client, or Outlook on the Web. Additionally, it’s difficult to troubleshoot mailbox issues when IT does not have a complete view of the rules impacting your account. Thus, it’s highly recommended to use only server-side rules.

Outlook for Windows

  1. Select the Home tab
  2. Expand the Rules drop-down and click Manage Rules & Alerts
  3. Remove any client-only rules by selecting them, clicking Delete, and clicking Yes in the confirmation window
    Identifying Client-0nly Rules

    Client-only rules will say “(client-only)” to the right of the rule’s name.


Outlook for macOS

  1. Click Outlook in the top right corner, and then select Preferences
  2. Click Rules
  3. Under the Client Rules section, look in each subsection for rules; remove selected rules by clicking the minus () sign
  4. Click Delete when prompted

Updated on June 8, 2022

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