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Microsoft Outlook 2010 : Processing Messages Automatically - Using Rules to Move Messages Between Accounts & Running Rules Manually and in Specific Folders

4/25/2012 4:19:15 PM

Backing Up and Restoring Rules

Outlook 2010 stores server-side rules in your Exchange Server mailbox, so in principle, there is no reason to back up your server-side rules. We say "in principle" because that point of view assumes that the Exchange Server administrator is performing adequate backups of your mailbox so that you won't lose your messages or your rules. 

Outlook 2010 stores client-side rules in the default mail store—that is, the .pst file defined in your Outlook 2010 profile as the location for incoming mail. Storing the rules in the .pst file simplifies moving your rules to another computer because you are also likely to move your .pst file to the other computer to retain all your Outlook 2010 items. To make this process work, however, you need to add the .pst file to the second computer in a certain way.

Outlook 2010 checks the default mail store .pst file for the rules, but it doesn't check any other .pst files that you might have added to your profile. Therefore, if you added an email account to the profile and then added the .pst file from your old system, you won't see your rules.

One of the easiest methods for making sure things get set up correctly is to add the .pst file to your profile before you add the email account. Then when you add the account, Outlook 2010 uses the existing .pst file as the default store. The result is that your rules will be available without any additional manipulation.

Here's how to make that happen:

  1. Open the Mail item in Control Panel.

  2. In the Mail Setup dialog box, click Show Profiles.

  3. Click Add, type a name for the profile, and then click OK.

  4. Click Cancel. When asked whether you want to create a profile with no email accounts, click OK.

  5. Click Properties to open the newly created profile.

  6. Click Data Files to display the Data Files tab in the Account Settings dialog box.

  7. Click Add, and then click OK in the New Outlook Data File dialog box.

  8. In the Create Or Open Outlook Data File dialog box, browse to and select the .pst file that contains your rules, and then click OK.

  9. Click OK in the Personal Folders dialog box.

  10. In the Account Settings dialog box, click the newly added data file, and then click Set As Default.

  11. Add your email accounts to the profile.

  12. Click Close, click Close again, and then click OK to close the profile properties.

When you start Outlook 2010, you should now have access to the rules stored in the .pst file, plus all your existing Outlook 2010 items.

Using Rules to Move Messages Between Accounts

One common task that users often want to perform is to move messages between accounts. Assume that you have two accounts: an Exchange Server account for work and a POP3 account for personal messages. When certain messages come into your Exchange Server mailbox, you want them to be moved automatically to the .pst file for your other account. In this case, it's a simple matter to move the personal messages from the Exchange Server Inbox to the POP3 Inbox. Just create a rule that moves messages that meet the specified conditions to your POP3 Inbox.


Before you run through these steps to create a rule for moving messages based on their account, create a folder to contain the messages.

Here's how to accomplish this:

  1. On the Home tab, click Rules, Manage Rules And Alerts to open the Rules And Alerts dialog box.

  2. Click New Rule, and in the Rules Wizard, select Apply Rule On Messages I Receive and then click Next.

  3. Select Through The Specified Account. In the rule description area, click the underlined word specified, select your Exchange Server account, and then click OK.

  4. Choose the other condition(s) that define the messages that you want moved between accounts, and click Next.

  5. Select Move It To The Specified Folder, and then click the underlined word specified in the rule description area.

  6. Select the folder in your .pst file to which the messages should be moved, and then click OK and Next.

  7. Specify any exceptions to the rule, and then click Next again.

  8. Specify a name for the rule and other options as needed, and then click Finish.

Running Rules Manually and in Specific Folders

Normally you use message rules to process messages when they arrive in your Inbox or are placed in the Sent Messages folder. However, you also can run rules manually at any time. Perhaps you have created a rule that you want to use periodically to clean out certain types of messages or move them to a specific folder. You don't want the rule to operate every time you check mail; instead, you want to execute it only when you think it's necessary. In this case, you can run the rule manually.

You might also want to run a rule manually when you need to run it in a folder other than the Inbox. For example, assume that you've deleted messages from a specific sender and now want to restore them, moving the messages from the Deleted Items folder back to your Inbox. In this situation, you could create the rule and then execute it manually in the Deleted Items folder.

It's easy to run a rule manually and in a specific folder by following these steps:

  1. On the Home tab, click Rules, Manage Rules And Alerts.

  2. Click Run Rules Now. Outlook 2010 displays the Run Rules Now dialog box.

  3. Select the rule that you want to run in the list, as shown in Figure 1. By default, Outlook 2010 will run the rule in the Inbox unless you specify otherwise. Click Browse to browse for a different folder. If you also want to run the rule in subfolders of the selected folder, select the Include Subfolders check box.

    Use the Run Rules Now dialog box to run a rule manually in a specified folder.

    Figure 1. Use the Run Rules Now dialog box to run a rule manually in a specified folder.

  4. In the Apply Rules To drop-down list, select the type of messages on which you want to run the rule (All Messages, Read Messages, or Unread Messages).

  5. Click Run Now to execute the rule, or click Close to cancel.

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