How to Create Email Rules

Here’s a totally optional tip that may make your life a little simpler by organizing your email inbox.

With Outlook’s rules feature, you can manage your course-related email a little better by automatically moving emails into separate folders. So an email sent from Blackboard course A goes right into email folder A and B goes to B, and so on. It means that you’ll have to open those email folders to read new messages (rather than just opening the email inbox), but you’ll still get that new-message notification and your inbox may just look a little more manageable. Here’s how to do it.

Note! This will only work for emails sent from within Blackboard courses, which automatically get the course ID in the subject line.

How to Create Email Rules from the Outlook Desktop App

This isn’t the only way to accomplish the same outcome, but I find it pretty straightforward and easy.

Click on the Rules button in the Move area of the Home tab. Then click on “create rule” from the drop-down menu.


In the Create Rule popup, type your course’s ID into the “subject contains” box. Be precise — what Outlook is going to do is “see” the subject line from the Blackboard-generated email and then perform whatever action (in this case, moving the message to a specific folder) to it.

CREATE-rule-2Once you have the course ID typed in, click “move the item to folder” and “select folder.” Here, you can create a new folder in your inbox with the name of the course (or whatever you like). Click “new,” give the name and location of the folder, then click OK on the create new folder window, then OK on the rules and alerts window, then OK on the create rule window. That’s it! You can check your work by going into Blackboard and sending yourself a test message from the course you just set up your rule for.

How to Create Email Rules from Office365

I couldn’t find a way to create a new rule from Office365 without just opening any old email that you’ve received (double click to get it in its own window) and then clicking on the ellipsis (” … “) next to “forward” in the upper right, then on “Create rule…”

crFrom there, give your rule a name and “X out” the conditions you don’t want, which include the “it was received from” and “it was sent to” parts. Just leave the “it includes these words in the subject” and then click on the text to the right of that box to change that subject to just your course ID.

create-rule-365Then, under “do the following” make sure it’s set to move (not copy or you’ll end up with two of every message) to a folder. Click “Select one” to pick your folder. When you’re done creating your rule, click the OK with the floppy-disk icon at the top.

How do you use this tool?

I’m interested to know how you organize your email inboxes. I’m partial to dragging messages to folders when I’ve responded to them — it’s a nice little psychological release like checking something off a to-do list.

Do you use rules like this? This is actually a pretty simple use of rules; you could really go crazy with some much more complex inbox automation. Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Alex is online course support technician at IDS, working to support all online, hybrid and LMS-enhanced instructors and students in using Blackboard and several media servers. She's also the administrator for the MCC Blogs network. You can reach her at

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Posted in Blackboard Learn for instructors, Free & Cool, Office365

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