Software

Member needs help taming Outlook's rules

A packed Sent Items folder in Microsoft Outlook can have you spending too much time sorting client e-mail. Send in your innovative solution to this common headache.

TechRepublic member George Spiers has an interesting problem: Spiers is a consultant with Trade Net, which provides guidance to small and medium-size online enterprises. He needs to find a way to sort his outgoing, or “sent,” messages into client folders within Microsoft Outlook 2002 while avoiding an out-of-control Sent Items folder.

“Our problem is that between 100 and 200 e-mails go out each day, and they all have to be filed manually from the Sent Items box,” Spiers said.

Spiers wrote to me asking if I knew how to set up a rule that would move messages from the Sent Items folder to an alternate folder without maintaining a copy in the Sent Items folder.

“I was trying to find some way of setting up a rule which took the message from the Sent box or bypassed the Sent box, and put it straight into the client’s folder,” he said. “Putting a copy in doesn't really solve the problem, as you still have to deal with the accumulating Sent box.”

My suggestions
I suggested two ways to solve Spiers’ dilemma:
  1. Change the mailbox settings so that every message isn't copied in the Sent Items folder.
  2. Create a rule that attaches a category, like "client message," to each of the appropriate sent items, along with rules to file copies of the messages in the appropriate folders. At the end of each day, view the Sent Items folder by category and delete all the duplicate messages together.

For various reasons, neither of these solutions worked for Spiers. He was uncomfortable deselecting the Save Copies Of Messages In Sent Items Folder option because, “if you send one ‘off’ e-mail to someone without setting up a rule first, Outlook does not keep a copy anywhere,” he said. “If only Outlook allowed you to move instead of copy the sent e-mail….”

Members to the rescue: Can you fix Spiers’ dilemma?
I told Spiers that our members couldn’t be topped when it comes to finding innovative solutions to everyday headaches. Don’t prove me wrong.

Please send us e-mail with your suggested solutions to Spiers’ problem, or post your solution in the discussion area below. We’ll publish the best solutions in a follow-up article and ask Spiers which solution worked best for him. If we publish your idea, we’ll send you a TechRepublic coffee mug.

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