How Outlook rules work

This content is 20 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

This morning, as part of an e-mail migration, I was looking at a scenario where I needed to divert all inbound e-mail messages from one (Exchange Server) mailbox to another (Microsoft Mail) mailbox, unless the message originated from the target mailbox. I couldn’t implement this in Active Directory as it only supports a simple divert of all incoming messages to another recipient (and so couldn’t handle the additional complexity of excluding certain messages), but the rules and alerts functionality within Microsoft Outlook is more flexible.

One potential issue was around where Outlook stores information relating to its rules – because I need to create the rule using Outlook on one PC and remove it from another.

In this case, everything was fine, because this particular rule ran server-side (and hence didn’t rely on Outlook being active in order to execute); but it’s not always that simple – some rules rely on Outlook client functionality.

The Slipstick website includes comprehensive information on how the rules functionality is implemented, both for standalone Outlook clients and for Outlook clients connected to Exchange Server computers.

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