Using Email Filters

You can define filters to manage incoming and outgoing email messages, including Calendar-related messages and Activity Streams. A filter consists of one or more conditions and one or more actions. You can base a condition on a subject, email messages from a specific person, or messages for a particular date. If the message matches the conditions, the specified actions are performed.

You can create filters to do the following:

Filters are applied in the order that they are listed. You can change the order at any time.

Setting Up Filter Rules

A filter rule consists of one or more conditions and one or more actions. If the message matches the conditions, the specified actions are performed.

Filter Conditions

A filter can contain one or more conditions. For example, if someone sends you email messages from more than one email address and you want to direct all messages from the person into one folder, you can create one filter that has two conditions, one for each email address, and one action to move the email messages to the same folder.

The order of the conditions is not important. You can choose whether the email message must match all conditions or just meet any one of the listed conditions. You can also use a negative condition. For example, you can filter an email message that does not contain a particular word. Filter conditions are not case-sensitive.

You can base a filter condition on the following:

Filtering Using Any Versus All

You can group conditions within a filter rule using the terms any or all. The use of these terms is similar to the "AND" versus "OR" type searches described under the Search feature, with any being OR and all being AND.

If you choose any when defining conditions for a new filter rule, then a message that meets any one of the conditions is considered a match. However, if you choose all, every condition specified in that filter rule must apply in order for that message to match the filter.

Filtering Using Contains, Matches, and Is Options

Three of the comparison methods for filter conditions are Contains, Matches pattern, and Matches Exactly. These options appear for some items such as the subject line. Other comparison methods are available depending on your conditions selections.

Filter Rule Actions

A filter rule can contain one or more actions. If the email message matches the specified conditions, all actions are applied in the order in which they appear in the filter.

Examples of filter rule actions are:

Creating a Filter

You can define filters to manage incoming and outgoing email messages. A filter consists of one or more conditions and one or more actions. If the message matches the conditions, the specified actions are performed.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Click either Incoming Message Filters or Outgoing Message Filters.
  3. Select New Filter.
  4. In the Filter Name text box, enter a unique name for the filter.
  5. To make the filter active, check the Active box in the upper right corner.
  6. Choose whether the message must meet any or all of the listed conditions.
    • any means that if a message meets any one of the conditions, the action is performed.
    • all means that the message must meet all conditions for the action to be performed.
  7. From the drop-down menu, select which part of the message to apply to the filter, such as Subject or Date.
  8. Choose how the item must match, such as contains or does not contain.
  9. Enter or select the information to compare against, such as the date, email address, or phrase. Conditions are not case-sensitive.
  10. To add more conditions, click the + button and repeat the above steps. The order of the conditions does not matter.
  11. Under Perform the following actions , choose an action from the drop-down menu, such as Move into folder. Depending on the action that you choose, you might need to browse to locate a folder or tag name, or enter an email address to redirect a message.
  12. To add more actions, click the + button and repeat the above step. The actions are applied in the order in which they are listed.
  13. If you want more than one filter to be applied to a message, uncheck Do not process additional filters.

  14. When you are done creating the filter, click OK.

Create a Filter from an Email Message

You can create a filter based on an email message in your Inbox. The filter information is extracted from the message. You can then modify the conditions and actions.

  1. Right-click an email message and choose New Filter. The Edit Filter dialog box appears populated with the information from the email message.
  2. In the Filter Name text box, type a unique name for the filter.
  3. Change the conditions and actions as necessary using the drop-down menus.
  4. Click OK.

Create a Filter for Calendar Invitations

You can create a filter to organize Calendar invitations that you receive and send.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Click either Incoming Message Filters or Outgoing Message Filters.
  3. Select New Filter.
  4. In the Filter Name text box, enter a unique name for the filter.
  5. To make the filter active, check the Active box in the upper right corner.
  6. In the Subject drop-down menu, select Calendar.
  7. Select an invite is replied/not reply or invite is requested/not requested condition from the drop-down menu.
  8. To add more conditions, click the + button and repeat the above steps. The order of the conditions does not matter.
  9. Under Perform the following actions, choose an action from the drop-down menu. Depending on the action that you choose, you might need to browse to locate a folder or tag name.
  10. To add more actions, click the + button and repeat the above step. The actions are applied in the order in which they are listed.
  11. If you want more than one filter to be applied to a message, uncheck Do not process additional filters.

  12. Click OK.

Viewing Filters

View Existing Filters

You can view the filters that you have defined and their status.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Double-click a filter to view information about it.

Change Filter Order

Active filters are applied in the order that they are listed. You can change the order.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to change the order.

Applying a Filter

You can apply a filter to email messages that you have already received. Using a filter is a quick way to organize email by moving messages into folders.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Click Run Filter.
  3. Select the folders to which to apply the filter.
  4. Click OK. A Filter run complete dialog displays after the filter has completed. The messages stated how many messages were processed and how many were affected.

Apply a Filter to a Contact

  1. Go to the Address Book>Contacts page and select a contact.
  2. In the contact's details in the right pane, right click the contact's email address.
  3. Select Add to Filter and select the filter or create a new filter.

Editing a Filter

You can modify an existing filter.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Select the filter that you want to change.
  3. Click Edit Filter.
  4. Change the conditions and actions as necessary using the drop-down menus.
  5. Click OK.

Making a Filter Active or Inactive

You can turn a filter on or off. If a filter is inactive, it is ignored. Making a filter inactive allows you to keep it for later use rather than deleting it.

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Click Edit Filter.
  3. Uncheck the Active box in the upper right corner to turn the filter off.
  4. Click OK.

Filtering Using Wildcards

You can use wildcards in comparisons that use the "Matches pattern" comparison operator. The two wildcard characters are * and ?

Asterisk (*)

The asterisk * is a placeholder for "zero or more characters of any type".

Example subject-line search string: banana*float

With Matches: Subject lines such as " bananafloat", "bananas", "banana-leaf casserole float" but not "super-banana-float"

Example subject-line search string: w*bandanna

With Matches: Subject lines such as "white bandanna" or "whose bandanna" but not "whose bandanna is this?"

Question mark (?)

The question mark is a placeholder for "exactly one character".

Example subject-line search string: banana?boat

With Matches: Subject lines such as " bananasboat", "banana-boat", "banana!boat", or "banana boat"

Escape character is Slash:

There may be times that you will want to specify an exact match on a string that contains characters that normally are considered wildcards. For example, you might want to specify a match on a subject line where the main heading is surrounded on both sides by three asterisks, such as:

MORE MONEY!!! or

FREE GIFT

To specify a wildcard as itself rather than a substitution for other characters, use the backslash immediately before the character. For example the comparison string \*\*\**\*\*\* specifies a subject with three asterisks before and after any string in the middle (including spaces).

Setting Up Filters Examples

The following are examples of setting up filters.

Example of Sorting Incoming Messages

You can sort incoming messages into folders. For example, all email messages from your supervisor are automatically moved into your Management Directives folder upon receipt, or social messages such as those from Facebook or Twitter are moved to a Social Networks folder.

To set up a filter to put messages from your supervisor into a Management Directives folder:

  1. Go to the Preferences>Filters page.
  2. Click New Filter.
  3. On the Add Filter dialog, enter a filter name such as Supervisor.
  4. Select all from the If any/all of the following conditions are met.
  5. Select the conditions that match your supervisor's messages from the drop-down menus or enter them into the text box:
    • Select From
    • Select matches exactly
    • Enter your supervisor's email address, such as supervisor@example.com into the text field.
    • Select all
  6. In Perform the following actions, select what you want to do with the filtered messages from your supervisor. From the drop-down menu:
    • Select Move into folder
    • Click Browse and browse to the folder you want to filter your supervisor's emails to, or create New folder. In this example, we are creating a new folder called Management Directives.
    • Apply a color to the folder for easier viewing. Click OK.
  7. On the Choose Folder dialog box, select where in your folder hierarchy you to place your new Management Directives folder.
  8. Click OK to return back to the Add Filter dialog box.
  9. Check Do not process additional filters so that other filters are not be applied to your new filter and the moving of your supervisor's emails into your new folder.
  10. Check Active in the upper right of the Add Filter dialog box. This means the filter is in an active state and working.
  11. Click OK.
  12. You are now back on the Preferences>Filters page.
  13. Select your new filter from the filters list and click Run Filter.
  14. The Choose Folder dialog box displays asking you what folder you want to apply the filter to? Select Inbox because we are filtering incoming messages from your supervisor out of your Inbox and into the new Management Directives folder.

    You have the option to select more than one folder, such as selecting your Inbox and your Sent folders so that all correspondence to and from your supervisor is moved, or filtered, into the Management Directives folder.
  15. Click OK. The filter runs and a progress window displays with the filter status. Depending on how many messages you are filtering, the process might take some time. You can stop the filter at anytime by clicking Cancel.
  16. The Filter Run Complete dialog box displays when the process is complete, indicating how many messages were processed and how many messages were affected or moved. Click OK.
  17. You can now go to your folders to see your new Management Directives folder containing emails from your supervisor.