Last reviewed on November 7, 2014   —  38 Comments

One of the most sought features of an e-mail program is the ability to automatically route, print and otherwise process incoming messages — and outgoing messages as well. In Microsoft Outlook, this function is provided by the Rules Wizard. Outlook provides application-level events, allowing you to write VBA routines to respond to new messages in a folder and to perform operations on outgoing items. Beginning with Exchange Server 5.5, the Exchange Server Event Service can run scripts on a schedule or when messages arrive, change or are deleted.

Outlook also supports “run a script” rules, allowing you to do some message processing as the messages arrive in the Inbox.

Rules Wizard | Inbox Assistant | Other General Tools | More Information

Rules Wizard

Rules Wizard processes both incoming and outgoing messages. Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 come with the Rules Wizard. There’s nothing extra to download. For Outlook 97, you can downloadthe Rules Wizard from Microsoft.See also:

Inbox Assistant

Inbox Assistant processes only incoming messages. In Outlook 97 or 98, you can revert from Rules Wizard to Inbox Assistant by removing the reference to Rules Wizard in the Add-in Manager (Tools | Options | Other | Advanced Options | Add-in Manager in Outlook 98). Only Inbox Assistant can send responses as a server-based rule or forward messages with headers intact.The Rules Wizard in Outlook 2000, on the other hand, provides parity with all Inbox Assistant rules and conditions. Therefore, Inbox Assistant is no longer needed and is not available in Outlook 2000.

Tools in the Spotlight

E-mail Follow-Up

E-mail Follow-up reminds you to send a follow-up e-mail message if the reply has not been received in specified time. E-mail Follow-Up will watch for the messages and show you alert when the reply has not been received. Moreover, E-mail Follow-Up allows you to send follow up message using a predefined template to remind the recipient that the reply hasn't been received. Version 1.

eeminders for Outlook

eeminders gives you an uncluttered inbox that shows you what you need to work on, in the order that you want to work on them. Defer/snooze emails out of your inbox and have them magically appear back when you actually need them. Get email reminders to follow-up on important emails right in your inbox. Get reminders for non-email actions in your Inbox. Prioritize or schedule your emails in the order that you need to work on them and more... Supports Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 (32bit and 64bit). Free 30 day trial available


The eFiler toolbar for Outlook enables you to use file system folders as mailboxes, making mailbox size limits and public folders redundant. Search, open, reply to and forward saved emails or share them as zipped attachments or by hyperlink. Emails are filed in msg format with definable filenames with filing references. File using a predictive list, the Drop Panel, or automatically using the eRules feature to make filing transparent. Cloud Sync extends drag and drop filing via IMAP to phones. Supports Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013 (32 and 64-bit).

Exclaimer Auto Responder

Exclaimer Auto Responder allows you to automate replies to emails, redirect messages, add and remove senders and recipients from emails, as well as prevent messages from being delivered. Create personalised auto responses by including the sender's original message, add company branding, and attach files. Redirect messages to new domains or group mailboxes instead of sending to individuals. Change the senders and recipients of emails by switching from individual mailboxes to team mailboxes. For Exchange Server 2007 and 2010.

Incoming Mail Organizer

This add-in for Outlook organizes the email in your inbox by automatically moving it to folders you designate. Similar to our Sent Items Organizer, you can have the add-in automatically move the email to folders that you create based on who it's from, keywords in the subject or body, or you can have it prompt you for the folder each time it doesn't know how to handle the email. It also comes with a facility to back propagate through all your old emails and file them accordingly. Enter code WD9BHK53 during checkout.

QuickFile for Outlook

File 90% of your emails at the click of a button. Manage your Inbox and Sent Items folders. Move emails out of the Inbox to the correct folder at the click of a button. QuickFile remembers the folders used for each person and presents a short customized list each time. Use the same list to Send&File in one step instead of having to go back to your Sent Items folder. Plus many more email management features such as one-click creation of task/appointments from emails, newsletter processing, deferred non-urgent emails and much more.


Tagwolf helps people save time while filing their email messages to folders in Microsoft Outlook. Tagwolf speeds up this task by intelligently suggesting the best folder for each email message. Instead of having to drag and drop emails to a large folder structure, users can simply accept this suggestion and file a message with one click. Works as an add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013.


Attachment Manager for Outlook

Attachment management addin for Outlook enables you to detach attachments and embedded images as files in a local or network drive and link them up within the emails, for easy reference and retrieval. Remove links and re-attach files back when required, or when replying or forwarding the emails. You can also set Attachment Manager to monitor any number of mail-enabled folders and mailboxes to automatically detach incoming emails, with no manual intervention. You can set the addin to skip detachment of certain attachments.


Auto-Mate is an Outlook utility that allows you use define rules to move mail from your Inbox (or other folders) based on several criteria, including the age of the message. While Outlook rules only run as messages are downloaded or when you click Run Rules now, Auto-Mate rules run on a schedule, enabling you to apply rules to messages that have been in your Inbox for a given number of hours, days or weeks. Available in Standard or Pro Version. Supports Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013. Now available for Outlook 2010/2013 64-bit.

Categorize Plus

Categorize Plus enables users to categorize and search Outlook items using a selectable menu hierarchy. Categorize Plus also allows user to automatically process emails by creating Category Actions. In addition, Categorize Plus will automatically assign categories to items as they arrive in your Inbox or any other folder that you choose. Categorize Plus also includes a dock-able Category Editor that is used to quickly edit item categories and commands to copy/paste categories and to undo/redo categorizations. Available in both Free and Paid versions and works with Outlook 2003/2007/2010.

ClearContext Information Management System

Available in two versions, a free personal edition and a more powerful professional version, ClearContext IMS is an add-in for Outlook that automatically prioritizes, organizes, and color-codes the e-mail in your inbox, placing the most important e-mails from the most important senders at the top of the inbox, ready to be dealt with immediately. Less important e-mails, such as newsletters and correspondence from low priority senders, are placed further down in the inbox and junk/spam e-mails are moved to the bottom. ClearContext IMS automates the e-mail filing process to help you keep your entire mailbox organized. Version 3.0

Compliance Copies Add-In

Sperry Software's Compliance Copies add-in for Microsoft Outlook will automatically add multiple BCC or CC recipients based on multiple different rules for different people. Unlike the Always BCC add-in, this new add-in also supports exceptions to the CC/BCCs conditions. This tool works with Outlook 2007/2010/2013.

Data Publisher for Outlook & SharePoint

Data Publisher add-in provides a means to bring your Outlook contents such as mails, appointments, tasks or contacts to SharePoint lists, where these can be shared with other users. This process can be performed manually, or automatically and is achieved without using any scripts or programming, with complete seamless experience to the users. In other words, Data Publisher extends your Microsoft Outlook to effectively act as a content provider for your enterprise SharePoint repository. It can be adapted to feed data to SharePoint lists for various purposes, such as for issue tracking, timesheets, projects or contact managements.

Email Responder

Email Responder for Microsoft Outlook is an out-of-office assistant. Auto reply with away message templates; change your status and reply templates remotely. Change your free-busy status according to your Calendar or your Skype availability status. Choose which Calendar to use for the status. Turn on or off Email Responder status according to a schedule. Choose contacts to automatically reply to or do not auto reply to emails containing custom keywords in the email subject. Windows 8 and Outlook 2013 support. Ver. 2.30

Email Templates

Exchange/Outlook add-on to create custom replies, forwards, signatures -- inserting any type of boilerplate text into your message. Templates are stored in Outlook or Exchange folders and can contain scripting elements (in VBScript or ET's own script language) to build replies that use information from the incoming message. Various extensions can handle such tasks as mailing list subscriptions. For a rotating quote, download the Rotating Text template. Has some issues with Outlook 2002 -- make sure you get the latest update, disable RTF templates, and don't try to use ET as a custom action in Rules Wizard.


Extracts information from incoming messages into databases, sends automatic replies, manages newsletter subscriptions, sends and collates questionnaires. Supports XML and scheduled tasks.


File emails from Outlook into project or client folders automatically by specifying the project number or client name in the subject of an email. FileChimp matches this data to a folder name located anywhere on your network! Watch as the bulk of your emails are automatically filed and finish the task with manual filing for emails that do not fall within the scope or a project or client folder.Save time and effort and ensure relevant emails are correctly filed throughout the office. Most emails are filed with ZERO clicks!

GFI MailEssentials for Exchange

Anti-spam, disclaimers (with variables), archiving Internet mail, Internet mail usage reports. Includes a POP downloader and personalized server-based autoreplies that can include attachments and tracking numbers. Can archive to an ODBC database. Current version includes Overall improved anti-spam technology, an additional anti-spam engine called SpamRazer along with improved performance and a real-time dashboard.

Inlook Time Management

Inlook Time Management helps you optimize how you spend your valuable time. Inlook leverages advanced email and meeting analytics to help you prioritize your day to day work, increase productivity and measure how much time you are spending per task, per project or per customer. Inlook also helps you implement email handling techniques by automating many time consuming, administrative actions such as smart archiving (fully automated or by providing smart suggestions) , deferring email handling, scheduling time to handle an email and more.

Issue Tracker for Outlook & SharePoint

An incident ticket management groupware add-in that leverages Microsoft Outlook, Exchange and SharePoint. Provide an easy way for support staffs to collect ticket data from emails, assign technicians and problem areas, set due date and other custom metadata. And then use this information to generate trouble tickets in one of the administrator defined SharePoint lists, where customer issues can be tracked and collaborated with other technicians and stakeholders to seek early resolution.


Integrates with Outlook to apply rules for inbound and outbound e-mail. Rules can be scheduled and can update data, route mail, run applications, and perform other functions. Can also schedule report deliveries.

OLAP Statistics for Outlook

OLAP Statistics tool for Outlook helps you gain insight into your folder items and make new discoveries. It analyzes Outlook data in multi-dimensional view in grids, charts and graphs and supports pivoting, drill down/slice and dice and filtering. You can run analysis tool on individual Outlook or public folders. Specify any field as the measure using functions such as sum, count, distinct count, maximum, minimum etc, and use this against other fields to generate statistics. Save and share reports as PDF, JPEG, HTML or PNG formats.

Outlook Rules Manager

Mail organiser for Outlook to replace the built-in Rules Wizard. Offers unlimited rule capacity (only limited by your computer hardware), quick folder find, attachment renaming, and Bayesian antispam mail filtering.

Personal HelpDesk for Outlook

An automated ticketing system for one-person helpdesk and issue tracking in Microsoft Outlook. Log, analyze, track and escalate support requests in an organized and structured process in Outlook. Auto-process incoming support requests and send automated notification emails or SMS alerts. Supports enforcement of SLA in line with ITIL guidelines. Integrated knowledge base, asset tracking and statistical tools. Support for Skype and Phone calls. Includes a self-service website where end-users can submit new support requests, check status, search through the knowledge base. Improves your efficiency to enable faster response time.


Message filtering tool for Exchange Server to block spam, proprietary information leaks and unacceptable language. Also can create automatic replies and perform rule-based archiving.

Team Helpdesk for Outlook

ITIL helpdesk with automated ticketing and issue tracking for support team to log, analyze, collaborate, track and escalate support requests in an organized and structured way in Outlook. Can auto-process incoming support requests, auto-assign technicians, enforce service level, set due date and send automated notifications to cut the overhead of manual tasks significantly. Comes with integrated Knowledge Base, Asset Tracking, SLA, Report builders and OLAP Statistical tools. Support for Skype, SMS and Phone calls. Includes Web Access sites for technicians and end-users. Improves your efficiency to enable faster response time.

Team Helpdesk for Outlook & SharePoint

ITIL help-desk with automated ticketing and issue tracking for support team to log, analyze, collaborate, track and escalate support requests in a structured way in Outlook and SharePoint. Can auto-process incoming support requests, auto-assign technicians, enforce service level, set due date and send automated notifications to cut the overhead of manual tasks significantly. Support for Skype, mobile SMS and Phone calls. Includes Web Access sites for technicians and end-users.

More Information


  1. Georg Kastrup says

    Hello Diane Poremsky.
    Outlook 2007. Am strugling to automate certain mails to be placed in our network specific folder, so I can share specific mails with my friends without sending the mails to them.
    Do you have a hint where to look for a solution?

    Kind regards


  2. Kasper says

    Hello Diane

    Tricky question.

    The scenario is as follows.
    We have a fax which saves the incomming faxes in a specific folder on a pc we then need outlook to somehow automatically take those saved files, attach in a new mail and send it afterwards all automatically.
    Is this possible by any add in or third party program or is this impossible?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I don't know of an 3rd party tool offhand but it should be doable with windows scripting. You need to watch for new faxes, then scripting will create a message and send it. Outlook will need to be open for the message to be sent, if you want to send through Outlook. I probably have script here (and if not, it's on the internet) to create the message using scripting - i don't have samples that watch for new items. If you don't need to send the message immediately, you could use task scheduler to run it. That would be the easiest. I'd probably have the script move the faxes to a new folder after sending, so you don't need to track the ones that were sent.

  3. Derek says

    Hi Diane,

    I've never written a line of VBA code, or any code for that matter.
    I'm trying to figure out how to set a rule in outlook that when i receive an email (from anyone internal to my company) with a certain string of words, or characters in the subject line, it's routed to a personal folder (for future tracking purposes) that i have created; AND instantly replies automatically with a certain greeting in the body of the email PLUS an attachment such as a word document or PDF or image etc...

    Also, i'm trying to do this at work and i'm not able to download and install any addons if they're not already installed.

    How can i do this?
    Thank you,

  4. Alexander Sila says

    Hi Diane,

    How do I create a rule in Microsoft Exchange to Auto Reply to Emails after Business hours with a custom message?

    Any help would be appreciated :)



    • Diane Poremsky says

      You would use Out of Office or use a Have the server reply rule. Either would need to be turned off and on daily.

      Newer versions of outlook/exchange server let you set a time for the OOF to start and stop.

      We have a VBA sample that can turn the rules off and on triggered by reminders. Outlook needs to be running for this to work, but once the rule change is made, it can be closed. Enable or disable an Outlook rule using reminders and VBA

  5. Justin Miller says

    Hi, I seem to want a simple thing but cannot find the answer, for Outlook and Exchange 2007 I need a function which auto replies with a template and the original message. When it uses the template, it never includes the original message. I found a script which changes the subject line, but need the original text in the reply at the bottom.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You should be able to add reply-item.body = original-item.body to the script you found, replacing reply-item and original-item with the object names used in the script.

      However, the problem is that anything running in Outlook is only going to work when Outlook is running.

  6. Justin Miller says

    Thanks, but I'm not sure where to put it in- I'm a graphics guy. Any extra help you can give is appreciated. Here is what I have:

    Sub AutoReply(Item As Outlook.MailItem)
    Dim olkReply As Outlook.MailItem
    Set olkReply = Item.Reply
    With olkReply
    'Change the subject on the next line as desired'
    .Subject = "Your Subject Goes Here"
    'Change the body as desired'
    .HTMLBody = "Your reply text goes here." & olkReply.HTMLBody
    End With
    Set olkReply = Nothing
    End Sub

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Keep in mind that the original message is item, from item as outlookitem. olkReply is the message you are sending back. You need to use the item fields if you want to include them on the reply.

      This macro will reply to the person + include any address in the To field of the template. It includes the original message, any text in the macro, plus the content of the template. Because it uses a template, it's not a true reply.

      If you want to include the original subject, use (or add) item.subject - otherwise, this should have most of the based covered except for attaching the original. Remove the parts you don't need and you should be good to go....

      Sub AutoReply(Item As Outlook.MailItem)
      Dim olkReply As Outlook.MailItem

      ' Use this for a real reply
      ' Set olkReply = Item.Reply

      ' This replies with a template
      Set olkReply = Application.CreateItemFromTemplate("C:\Users\me\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\test.oft")

      With olkReply
      .To = Item.SenderEmailAddress & ";" & olkReply.To
      .Subject = "Your Subject Goes Here"
      .HTMLBody = "Your reply text goes here." & vbCrLf & "---- original body below ---" & vbCrLf & Item.HTMLBody & vbCrLf & "---- Template body below ---" & vbCrLf & olkReply.HTMLBody
      End With
      Set olkReply = Nothing
      End Sub

    • Diane Poremsky says

      BTW to send the original back as an attachment, you'd use
      .Attachments.Add Item

      it would go above .display in my code (use .display for testing, .send once the bugs are out)

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I do that when I test so I can apply it to all mail and see how it works without actually sending the mail. Change it to .Send to use.

  7. Tobias Strandberg says


    I'm trying to get invoices that we get on our email in pdf-format to be printed.
    Do you have any suggustions of how I can get that to work?!

  8. Keith R says

    I am looking for a way to save a fax that is routed to Outlook from a DID fax number to a network folder. Any light you can shed would be greatly appreciated.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Can you use VBA? Is the fax an attachment or dropped in the folder as a file? See Save attachments using VBA for a macro, otherwise you need to use a utility. Most of the utilities on this page should work with network drives.

  9. Fayez says

    Dear Diane
    I need your expertise in this.
    is there a way to set up a rule in outlook to automatically forward an email to my supervisor email if I did not get a reply from a specific staff in a specific time frame? In another word, automatic escalation of delayed reply?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      A rule, no. Other than using flags and tracking the replies yourself, Outlook doesn't offer a fully automated way to inform you that a reply was not received. I don't know if you could use Email Follow up utility and VBA to send a message to your supervisor using the method at Send email when reminder fires.

  10. William Mead says


    I need a way to automatically monitor an inbox on Outlook 2010 and based on the email address that was sent to or other subject/body data, will be able to route that email as a print job to different printer pools automatically. I don't care about attachments at this point, just the email body. I would want to set rules and route the job to one of several printer pools based on specified rules. Outlook 2010 has a very basic rule format that needs some enhancements.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can easily do everything but the route to a printer part - Outlook uses the default printer. While it is possible to use a macro to reset the default printer so outlook uses it, I don't think i have any code samples for that.

  11. Ainsley says

    Hi Diane,

    I am trying to write a code to auto reply emails where its subject does not follow a certain type of pattern. For example, if email I received does not have its subject written in a pattern of XXXXX/ABCD/XX (where X represent numbers), I would like the code to auto reply the mail to sender to ask him to resend the email to the desired subject pattern. Could you please advise? Thank you.

    • Ainsley says

      Hi Diane,

      Thank you for your kind reply. ABCD may not always be the same. I need a code to auto reply an email if its subject does not follow a certain patterns. Do you have a similar sample to this?

      Will I be able to use regex to capture the email's subject pattern and then run a code to auto reply to the sender if the pattern does not follow a certain condition?

      Thank you.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      i have a reg function that might work - but the pattern it looks for needs to be unique - will it always be number/letters/number and will the number of numbers or letters vary?

  12. Ainsley says

    Hi Diane,

    The arrangement of numbers and letters will always be the same.Examples: 123-456789/CO1/ABCD or 456-654321/CO2/DEFG. I think the pattern to lookup for should be:


    Am i right?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      using the macro at as the base, this run a script macro and function look for the code and reply if the code is found.

      Dim code As String
      Sub ReplywithNote(Item As Outlook.MailItem)
      Dim message, Str As String
      Dim olInspector As Outlook.Inspector
      Dim olDocument As Word.Document
      Dim olSelection As Word.Selection

      ExtractText (Item.Subject)

      If code = "" Then Exit Sub
      Set myReply = Item.Reply

      Set olInspector = Application.ActiveInspector()
      Set olDocument = olInspector.WordEditor
      Set olSelection = olDocument.Application.Selection

      olSelection.InsertBefore code

      ' uncomment to send
      ' myReply.Send

      End Sub

      Function ExtractText(Str As String) ' As String
      Dim regEx As New RegExp
      Dim NumMatches As MatchCollection
      Dim M As Match

      regEx.Pattern = "([0-9]{3}-[0-9]{6}/CO[0-9]/[A-Z]{4})"
      Set NumMatches = regEx.Execute(Str)
      If NumMatches.Count = 0 Then
      ExtractText = ""
      Set M = NumMatches(0)
      ExtractText = M.SubMatches(0)
      End If
      code = ExtractText
      End Function

  13. Ainsley says

    Yes, I want to have the code to identify the pattern of the email subject first and then auto reply to the sender if the pattern of the email subject is not correct. For example, the subject email should either be 123-456789/CO01/ABCD or 987-654321/CO02/DEFG and thus the pattern should be:

    ""[0-9]{3}-[0-9]{6}/CO[0-9]{2}/[A-Z]{4}" <- Am i right?

    So if the email subject is not following this pattern, then the code should send an auto reply to sender.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Ok... use the if statement to control whether to reply -
      If code = "" Then Exit Sub <== replies if code in subject If not code = "" Then Exit Sub <== replies if the code is not in subject or use If code = "" Then ' set reply etc ' send reply end if

    • Ainsley says

      Hi Diane,

      Thank you so much! I got the code working for email that I selected in the Outlook window! However, what should I do such that it will run on every email in one of my inbox folder and perform the code without having me to select it 1 by 1?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you want to run it on selected messages, you need to loop through the selection.

      Sub ReplywithNote()
      Dim olInspector As Outlook.Inspector
      Dim olDocument As Word.Document
      Dim olSelection As Word.Selection
      Dim Session As Outlook.NameSpace
      Dim currentExplorer As Explorer
      Dim Selection As Selection
      Dim item As MailItem

      Set currentExplorer = Application.ActiveExplorer
      Set Selection = currentExplorer.Selection
      For Each item In Selection

      ExtractText (item.Subject)
      'rest of code
      end sub

      See for a code smaple to run it on all items in a folder.

      If you want it completely automatic, the sample I posted earlier works as a run a script rule, or you can use an itemadd macro to watch the folder and run when new messages arrive.

  14. Omar Siddiqui says

    Hi Diane,

    I hope you can help me with my problem. So I'm in need of setting up an auto response. I know how to set the rules to respond back to the sender however, what I need is to send an auto response not to the sender of the email but the email hyperlink that comes with in the body of the message it's self. I'm in the hospitality industry so I get many emails from a company that sends me the email of the person wanting a room. I just don't understand how to set a rule to grab the hyperlink with in the message and respond only to that and not back to the sender. I hope I'm making sense, but any help would be appreciative

  15. Mike says

    Hi There,

    I am looking for a third party piece of software that will manage auto replies even if the user isn't logged into that mailbox. There are plenty of options for replying when the user is logged in to the profile for the mailbox however other than using a vbscript I am unable find a solution. Anyone come across this issue before? any help would be greatly appreciated

    Cheers guys

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      It would have to run server-side - otherwise something has to log in on a client to check mail. If you use Exchange, the out of office feature can use rules for autoreply and can use simple templates stored server side.

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