How to Create Rules Based on Email Subjects in Outlook 2013

Outlook 2013 Icon

Do you use MS Outlook as a desktop email client? And, do you use it only for the purpose of sending and receiving emails? Did you know you could put it to other uses like

organizing to-do lists

and reminder for tasks?

Well, I do a lot more with mine. I use it as an automatic email replier, as a tool to organize my emails and much more. One among my favorites are to use MS Outlook to conduct surveys. The client can beautifully and automatically sort out email survey stats. Actually, the trick needed to get this done can be applied in many other cases. We’re talking about creating rules for emails based on their subject lines.

Let’s continue with the survey example. Say you are in an organization and are supposed to send out a mass event invitation to the employees while collecting data of how many wish to attend. It is easy, simply add a voting button and ask the recipients to reply with a Yes or No by clicking on the voting button.

Note: Our tutorial is based out of MS Outlook 2013. However, the setup is applicable to lower versions too. The only difference would be the user interface.

Now, the problem is collecting the statistics. Are you going to scroll through your inbox and count each response and segregate the Yes’s and No’s manually? There are better ways; we will show you one.

I am going to send out an email with subject Cast your Vote and a voting button which can be used to reply with Yes or No. Click the Use Voting Buttons option to insert the buttons.

Vote Email

Before sending it out I am going to set up the tool to be ready to listen to responses and count the statistics on its own. Here’s what I need to set up.

Creating Statistics Folders

I would navigate to my Inbox, on the left pane, right-click on it and create a new folder. I would name it Voted Yes.

Outlook New Folder

Similarly, I would create another one named Voted No. The result is shown in the image below.

Statistics Folder

Create Listener Rules

Now, I need to create rules so that outlook can apply rules to messages as they arrive and push them in their respective folders. Follow the steps to create rules.

Step 1: Navigate to Home tab. Under Move section, hover on Rules and then click on Manage Rules & Alerts.

Manage Rules Alerts

Step 2: Start by clicking on New Rule.

Rules Alerts Dialog

Step 3: On the Rules Wizard, Start from a blank rule by selecting Apply rules on messages I receive. Click on Next.

Rules Wizard

Step 4: Select a condition. The best way is to go with specific words in the subject. You may choose to have more conditions.

Subject Specific Rule

Step 5: On the lower pane of the same window, click on specific words. Add a search string as Yes: Cast your Vote. Click on Next.

Rule Yes Vote

Step 6: Select an action. The desired intent with an incoming response is to move it to a specified folder.

Folder Yes Vote

Step 7: On the lower pane of the same window, click on specified. Now select the folder Voted Yes and click on Ok.

Associate Folder Rule

Step 8: Back on the Rules Wizard, click on Finish. Follow Step 2 through Step 7 again. This time with the search string (Step 5) as No: Cast your Vote and folder (Step 7) as Voted No.

That’s it. Go back to the email that is under draft, add your list of recipients and Send. Once the responses have arrived, just check the count in each folder.

Note: As mentioned earlier, the rule is based on the email subject. The response would prefix the voted response to the subject line. And, hence the rules are aligned in that fashion. With the voting options you use, you rules will vary.

Does that sound interesting? Does that also mean a lot of reduced work? Try it out and let us know how well it worked.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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