Tools to Organize your Microsoft 365 Email Inbox

Last modified 1/31/2024

This article reviews how to organize your Illinois State University Microsoft 365 email inbox within the Microsoft 365 email web application. Microsoft 365 provides features to stay organized. Emails can be sent automatically to certain folders using “Inbox Rules”, emails from one person or sender in your inbox can all be deleted all at once using Sweep, use Archive feature to automatically move emails you wish to be archived into your Archive folder, and use the Move or Move All feature to move or place a current emails in your inbox to a particular folders.

If you want to set up a rule to redirect ALL emails to your Microsoft 365 Mail inbox to another email address, such as Yahoo account or Gmail, please refer to the following:

Create a New Inbox Rule

Inbox Rules are created to organize the email messages that come directly to your Inbox in Microsoft 365 Outlook Mail. Conditions are specified to tell the system what to look for in the new messages, and Actions are also specified to tell the system what to do with those messages that meet the conditions.

To create a new Inbox Rule, do the following:

  1. Log into with your ISU email address and password.

  2. Click Outlook.

  3. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the window →  click View all Outlook settings.

  4. Click Rules.

  5. Click the plus (+) sign to add a new inbox rule.

  6. Enter a name for the new inbox rule.

  7. Select the condition that matches the email message you wish to organize.

    • If you want all email messages that come to your Inbox from your manager to go to a manager folder, you would select the condition It was sent or received and then select Received from… This will automatically prompt for your “My Contacts” list, and you will need to select the contacts name and click Save.
    • If you wish to move email messages that come into the inbox with a specific “Subject” to a specific folder, such as ‘Research’, you would select the condition It includes these words and then select in the subject… A box will pop up and ask for specific words or phrases for the condition.


The University removed the opt out option in accordance with the forthcoming Mass Email Policy that encourages the appropriate use of email for all relevant academic communications, including academic research. If you do not wish to receive these messages in your inbox, please follow the steps below for creating a new inbox rule to redirect these messages to another folder.

  1. After completing the “Condition”, you need to indicate what “Action” will need to be taken. Select an Action from the drop down menu such as move, copy, or delete.
  2. The Select folder box will pop up and you need to indicate which folder to move the messages to complete the action. Click the appropriate folder.
  3. If there is an “Exception” to the Inbox Rule you have created, click the Add exception button and indicate your exception specifics using the drop down menu.
  4. Once the Condition and Action (and Exception) is set, click Save.

Setting up a Copy-Forward Rule

If you would like to set up a rule that forwards a copy of your emails to specific users, please read the directions below:

  1. When you are in the “rules” section of settings, click Add New Rule.
  2. Name your rule. You will want to name it something unique so you know which rule it is in case you ever want to edit it in the future.
  3. Click Select a Condition next. This is where you will specify which emails of yours you would like to forward. If you would like to forward emails that are sent to you from a specific user, select From. If you would like to forward all of your incoming emails, select Apply to all messages which is located at the bottom of the selection list.
  4. Once you have specified a condition, you will select an action by clicking Action. From here, you will select Forward to.
  5. An empty field will appear next to Forward To. In that field, you will enter the name(s) of the individual(s) who will be receiving your incoming emails.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the rule, click Save and the rule will begin to process.

You have now set up a forwarding rule.


Use Sweep to quickly clean up your Inbox of unwanted emails, automatically delete incoming mail, keep only the latest email, or delete email older than 10 days—all from a particular sender.

To clean your Inbox of unwanted emails:

  1. Launch Microsoft 365 email.
  2. Select an email in your inbox from the sender whose messages you want to delete.
  3. On the task bar, click Sweep.
  4. Select an option that will determine how emails from the sender are deleted.
  5. Click OK to perform the selected action.


You can archive email messages to the default Archive email folder, or you can choose another folder to send archived emails. 


You may only select a destination folder for archived items once.

To select a destination folder:

  1. Launch Microsoft 365 email.
  2. Select an email in your inbox that you would like to archive, and then on the task bar, click Archive.
  3. Select one of the following options:
    • To send archived emails to a folder named Archive, create a new folder within the Folder tab, name it Archive and within the Folder Contains drop down options, select Archive, as content from that Archive folder will go into the new folder that you just created.
    • To choose a different folder to send archived items to, select a destination folder from the drop-down menu.
    • Click OK.
    • Click Move all.

The email(s) will be moved to the folder you selected.

Additional Features to Organize or Filter Email Messages

Other features that allow you to sort, filter and organize you inbox:

  • Mark emails as read or unread.
  • Pin emails so they remain at the top of the email list.
  • Flag, Clear flag, or mark complete, emails that you want represented as tasks.
  • Delete messages related to a single conversation by using Ignore.

To sort, filter and organize email in your inbox:

  1. Launch Microsoft 365 email.
  2. Select an email from your inbox.
  3. Click the ellipses (…) in the top navigation bar to view a list of options you can use to sort, filter and organize your email.
  4. Select the action you want to perform on the selected email.

The action you selected will now be applied to the selected email.

Video Resources

The following are links to videos that demonstrate other Microsoft 365 email inbox features: 

How to Get Help