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  1. #1
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    Feb 2001
    Essex, England
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    Managing Rules in Outlook 2013

    I'm trying to manage my assigned tasks at work in Outlook using rules. We use Outlook 2013 over a virtual Windows 7 machine, which is locked-down to the point that I can't use third-party add-in or plug-in helpers of whatever flavour.

    My assigned tasks have reference numbers and my inbox receives correspondence relating to the tasks assigned to the whole team, not just me, so the email noise is profound. I started by manually creating a rule to move emails having particular reference numbers in the subject line to a folder that just contained my tasks. This worked and enabled a degree of focus that was very helpful.

    While I had up to about 15 assigned tasks, this was easily manageable. Now that I have 57 and climbing, managing the rule has become a bit of a headache. I'm a realtively new starter here. My colleagues regularly have over 100 tasks assigned to them at any one time. All of them started using Outlook rules to filter them but gave it up as cumbersome to maintain and now just use the search tool on their inbox to find all messages related to a particular task reference.

    To my mind, the advantage to using rules to move messages to a separate folder is that you can quickly see when new messages arrive pertaining to your task list. I'd like to keep this functionality, if possible.

    This gives rise to several questions:

    • Is there a maximum number of selection criteria that can be entered for a single rule?
    • Is there any way to sort the selection criteria so they're easier to check and prove that the list is exhaustive?
    • Is it possible to add multiple criteria in a single operation? It's tedious adding 50-odd task references manually, even if you cut and paste from a separate list to prevent typos.

    I've tried several methods of adding two or three selection in a single operation using the Rules wizard, but end up with variations on
    "*123456" or "*1242356" or "*312546"
    as a single line in the search box, which fails to do what I want when I test it. It seems to look for literal occurrences of the string ["*123456" or "*1242356" or "*312546"] - minus the square brackets - and therefore ends up not finding anything. I've tried the selection as shown above, with and without quotes and with commas and semi-colons instead of "OR". I haven't yet found a syntax that works.

    It would be nice if I could point the rules wizard to an external text file to create the criteria list, but I fear that this is a step too far.

    Can anyone offer any concrete suggestions, either to refine the rules process in the way I describe or using some completely different aspect of Outlook 2013 that hasn't occured to me?

    Any help or suggestions gratefully received.


    "A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." - William James

  2. #2
    WS Lounge VIP Browni's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Rochdale, UK
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    Have you looked at using 'Search Folders' rather than using rules?They seem to be more user friendly when creating/customising the search criteria.

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