More on Outlook Express from the February 2000 Actrix Newsletter

by Rob Zorn

In case you're wondering, I really don't have any connection to Microsoft. I've been featuring Outlook Express lately for two main reasons. Firstly, I believe it is an ideal e-mail program. Secondly, Microsoft marketing tactics aside, it simply is the e-mail program that the vast majority of my readers use.

This month I thought I'd briefly mention the benefits of Outlook Express 5's Message Rules. You can use this feature of Outlook Express 5 to apply sorting rules to your incoming e-mail. This is especially handy for people who share Outlook Express on the same computer with someone else, or for couples, families or businesses where multiple mailboxes are held under the same account. Rules can be created to sort mail into different folders as it arrives if you don't want to have all your mail lumped and dumped together into your inbox.

I'm not going to laboriously explain every detail as I believe most things Internet are best learned by doing and experimenting rather than by relying solely on written instructions, but I do encourage you to experiment. Just remember what you've done so that you can undo it if things go badly awry.

To make good use of Message Rules, you should first create the folders that you want the incoming email to be sorted into. To do this, right-click on Local Folders and select New Folder in the grey box that pops up. Give the folder a name such as "Bob's Mail," or simply "Bob." The folder you have made will now appear under the list of local folders along with your Inbox, Outbox, Sent Items folder and so forth.

To create Message Rules:

  1. Click Tools, then Message Rules.
  2. On the right-hand side of the Message Rules box that appears, click New.
  3. Select a condition for your rule, such as When the From line contains people.
  4. Select an action for your rule such as Move it to the specified folder.
  5. In the Rule Description field click he underlined condition (in this case it will be contains people) and add the email address you'd like to sort in the box that pops up.
  6. In the Rule Description field, click the underlined action (in this case it will be move it to the specified folder) and select from the list the destination folder.
  7. Click OK to close the open dialogue boxes and if all has gone well Outlook Express will now sort your mail into the selected folders.

You can use this same process to add more rules or to modify existing ones.

A couple of notes in conclusion:

The process above will only work for Outlook Express 5 which is the latest version. There is a similar though less powerful feature called Inbox Assistant under the Tools menu in Outlook Express 4.

If you would like Outlook Express 5 you can go about getting it free in two ways. Firstly, the version of Internet Explorer 5 which you can download from our web site (within Customer Services) will also update your Outlook Express to version 5.

Secondly, you can download Outlook Express 5 alone from the Windows Update Page.