Want to file emails more efficiently?

Oct 22, 2018 | Outlook Hints and Tips, Uncategorised

Here are some handy hints on how to file emails more efficiently.  It contains some general hints and tips that will work in most email packages and then goes into more detail specific to Microsoft Outlook

Email Best Practice

When emails arrive in your inbox do one of 3 things

  • If it’s rubbish or you have read it and don’t need it again then bin it!
  • If you can deal with it within a couple of minutes then just do it. If you don’t you will only waste more time re-reading it when you do get round to it.  Then either delete it or file it in a folder so you can find it more easily in future.  Folders can be made inside of folders to subdivide topics up if required.
  • If you can’t deal with it immediately then flag it for follow up. Most emailing packages have this feature, some directly on the email, some by right-clicking or from an icon on the toolbar/ribbon.

Using this initial set of steps helps prevent time being wasted on reading and re-reading emails while you procrastinate over what to do with them.

Setting up options to deal with emails automatically

You will find that there are sometimes steps that you repeat over and over again every time a certain type of email arrives.  Another option is to get the emailing package to deal with them.  Most packages have the options of junk and rules although they can be tucked away.  Outlook also has the option of clean up

  • Junk/Spam – Certain email addresses can be marked as junk and will automatically go into the junk folder. You can then either ignore them or look at them infrequently to check that something hasn’t slipped in here by mistake.  For example, if BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) is used to send multiple email packages will sometimes view it as junk
  • Rules – These can be used to deal with emails automatically based on certain criteria you set up. For example, emails containing particular text could be filed into a particular folder or emails from a certain person could be deleted or forwarded to someone who is more appropriate.
  • Clean up – Outlook also has an option called clean up which deletes a whole conversation thread.

How to access these features in Outlook

Flag for follow up

There are 3 methods to use to flag emails.  Flagging reminds you that this needs to be revisited at some time.

  • Use the flag icon on the Home tab on the ribbon
  • Right click on the email and choose flag
  • Hover over the email and a flag email symbol appear that can be clicked

Clean up

Select Clean Up from the Home tab.  There are 3 options

  • Clean up Conversation -removes redundant messages in the selected conversation
  • Clean up Folder – removes redundant messages in the folder
  • Clean up folder and subfolders – removes redundant messages in the folder and subfolders

Messages are deemed redundant if they also exist within other messages so where a conversation has gone backwards and forwards several times only the latest message will be kept.


From the Home tab allows you to block, or not block the sender whose email you are currently selected on.  Depending on the Junk Email options chosen will determine which messages will be automatically filtered into the Junk folder.


Rules enable emails to be automatically dealt with in a variety of ways.  These include deleting, forwarding, filing and flagging to name a few.  The options can be set to run when an email arrives in the inbox or you chose to manually run it when required.

  • From the File tab select Manage Rules and Alerts
  • Select New rule
  • Now start choosing what you need the rule to do.  It can be modified by clicking on any underlined options at the bottom of the dialog box, for example, specifying who the email is from and which folder you want it moved to.
  • Exceptions can be added if required.
  • The rule is given a useful name and can be set to run on emails already in the inbox and switched on to run automatically if required.
  • From the same initial dialog box there is the option to run rule now if you don’t want it run automatically

Limited rules can also be accessed by right-clicking on an email.  This is really useful if you want emails from someone filed.  It does turn on the rule and run it immediately.

Hopefully using some of these ideas will help save you time and prevent the common frustrations caused by the huge volumes of emails many of us receive on a daily basis.

Want to know more then have a look at the Outlook courses we can deliver or email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss your requirements further.