The first time you start Outlook Express you see five folders – the Inbox, Outbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items and Drafts. Each of these folders has a purpose; thus, the Inbox in Outlook Express is where all downloaded email messages are stored, all emails that you’ve sent are placed in the Sent Items, messages that are yet to be sent are in the Outbox, any emails that you save are piled up under the Drafts folder and Deleted Items gets all the email messages that you have deleted. This basic layout of folders is what makes the program so easy to use.
However don’t let this simplicity fool you into undermining the capabilities of Outlook Express. This elegant email client offers excellent configurable options for organizing and segregating your email messages into folders under the inbox.
In fact, with Outlook Express message rules you can automatically instruct the program to store incoming emails in specified folders. In this article I will first tell you how to create folders followed by email organization and lastly, configuring message rules so that emails are automatically moved to their respective folders in Outlook Express.
All incoming email arrives at the Outlook Express Inbox unless you have configured message rules (which we shall discuss later). We receive emails from friends, family, colleagues (and yes, the office), newsletter subscriptions etc. Whether you get just a few emails each day or hundreds, the need to organize messages is paramount for increasing productivity and saving time. Because with time the inbox would simply become one big mess of unsorted and tangled digital data. Trying to locate a lost email in the Outlook Express inbox after a couple of years, even if you employ the “Find” feature, would result in loss of precious time.
What you need to do it to create folders under the Inbox and then move the emails as they arrive. For instance, all messages from the family can be kept in a “Family” folder or emails from the office can be stored in a “Work” folder. In some cases, a need might arise when you might like to create sub-folders for further segregation. For example, I have 16 important clients. The volume of emails from each these clients is much more than all the rest put together – its 20% of the customers who get 80% of the business. So I have created a folder for each of these 16 clients under a Clients folder and this helps me quickly fish out a message even if it is 3 years old. And even though I have over 7000 emails, the Outlook Express Find utility works faster because I can tell it to check emails only under a specific folder.
Creating a folder under the inbox in Outlook Express is a simple affair and involves just a few mouse clicks. You first need to bring up the Create Folder dialog box which can be done in three ways; right click (in Windows) on the Inbox and select New Folder or go to “File” > “Folder” > “New” or simply use the keyboard shortcut CONTROL-SHIFT-E.
In the Create Folder dialog box, make sure Inbox is selected and then enter the name of the new folder you want to create. For example, in the image below, I am creating a new folder for all emails from my friends.
If this was the first folder you have created, an icon with a plus (+) sign would now be displayed in front of the Inbox. Clicking on this icon expands and contracts (plus sign changes to minus) the list of folders under the inbox.
The folders you create in Outlook Express Inbox are akin to the directories on a hard disk drive. They let you organize emails under different headings and thus help you to quickly locate a message. Finally, you can have as many folders as you want (I guess) and further, you can create sub-folders under main folders too.
Outlook Express message rules can help you immensely in organizing and managing email messages because you can configure them to sort all incoming email and move messages to specified folders. I suggest you first go through the brief on message rules and how to create them or you can continue reading if you are comfortable with short-hand instructions.
We shall quickly create a message rule that automatically sorts and moves all incoming emails from my friends into the Friends folder that I had create above.
Go to “Tool” > “Message Rules” > “Mail”. Click on the “New” button which opens the “New Mail Rule” dialog box. Select the first Condition – “Where the From line contains people” – and the first Action – “Move it to the specified folder” (Refer image below).
The Rule description box will be populated with statements and will have two hyperlinks (blue underlined text). Click on the first one, “contains people” and enter the email addresses of your friends one by one or select them from the Address book if you have them stored there. Now click on the second blue link, “specified” folder and select the new Friends folder. You can also give this new message rule a descriptive name if you want. Finish the process by clicking on the “OK” buttons and your new message rule is created and Outlook Express is now configured to sort emails automatically and move them to designated folder.
Intuitive message rules can be a big help in organizing and managing your emails even getting rid of potential spam, blocking emails from specified accounts, deleting emails with very large attachments from the server and much more. If you want to know more, I suggest you read these other articles on Outlook Express message rules.
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