Use Exception Conditions in Outlook For Negative Emails Rules

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We have talked about outlook rules in a number of posts. Some of those tips help you

organize your mails better

. However, you must have seen one thing in common: We generally skip the

exception condition

and leave it for you to decide if you really need to add any.

Today we are set to tell you the importance of exceptions. In fact, we will show you how to utilize the exception conditions to create negative rules.

Let us take an example. I am going on a vacation and I generally like to keep my work out of my personal life. So, while I could easily create a vacation auto-response for each email that lands in my inbox, I’d really like to do that only to the work emails (especially the ones that are cc’ed to groups involving me) and still attend to emails “sent only to me”.

Cool Tip: If you are someone who heavily relies on Outlook email rules, you should consider taking a backup so that you can always import them if you were to lose them during an unexpected malfunction.

So, is there a way out where I can send automatic responses to all emails except those sent only to me? Yes, there is. I need to send responses to emails which are sent to me and someone else. That is,

all emails but those sent only to me.

Here, we take you through the steps of creating such a rule. You may take a similar approach for whatever negative rule you wish to create.

Step 1: Navigate to the File menu on the ribbon and open it.

Ms Outlook File

Step 2: You will be taken to Account Information page. Click on Manage Rules & Alerts icon.

Manage Rules Alerts1

Step 3: Start by clicking on New Rule.

Rules Alerts Dialog

Step 4: On the Rules Wizard, Start from a blank rule by selecting Apply rules on messages I receive. Click on Next.

Rules Wizard

Step 5: Then you will be asked to select a condition. Do not make any selection here. Simply hit on Next.

Choose No Condition

Step 6: A warning will come up telling you that the rule will be applied to all messages. Say, Yes.

All Message Warning

Step 7: Select an action. I desire to reply using a specific template and the template has an out of office response in it.

Choose Move Action

Step 8: On the lower pane of the same window, click on a specified template and browse and select the reply with template form.

Select Reply Template

Step 9: Now you are taken to the exception window. Here, I am going to apply an exception condition except if sent only to me. Click on Next.

Rule Exception

Step 10: You are done. Complete the set up by clicking on Finish.

Complete Rule Setup

Now, during a vacation you would be sending automatic responses only for those mail that are not sent only to you. Interesting, right?


Think about various other scenarios where you need to create such negative rules. When you figure them out and create rules successfully, you will start loving Outlook rules much more than before.

Last updated on 02 February, 2022

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