Flagging Incoming Court Emails in Outlook

Some of the most important and time-sensitive emails you receive are court e-filing notifications. Ensure these don’t get lost in an overflowing inbox by setting up a rule to flag these on arrival and even pop up an alert.

Since these notifications are usually from the same email address every time for a particular court, they’re a perfect candidate for Microsoft Outlook Rules. Rules in Microsoft Outlook can automate the handling of routine emails based on the sender’s address, the subject line or even text within the body of the email.

Create Your Rule by Going Through the Rules Wizard

The example rule in our video will flag every incoming email from a federal court and pops up an alert on screen. In the center of the Home tab, click the drop-down under Rules and choose Create Rule. Although you can use the Create Rule dialog box to create a very simple rule, we’re going to click on Advanced Options to go through the Rules Wizard.

First, we’ll tell Outlook what will trigger this rule. Because every email that’s coming from a federal court will contain “uscourts.gov” somewhere in the email address, I’m going to check the box next to “with specific words in the sender’s address” in Step 1.

To type in “uscourts.gov,” I’m going to click the hyperlink “specific words” in Step 2 below to pop up a dialog box that will allow me to type in one or more words or phrases I want Outlook to be on the lookout for in the sender’s address. Then I’ll click Add, OK and Next.

Now we’ll tell Outlook what to do if this trigger condition is met. First, I’m going to check “flag message for follow up at this time,” then click the hyperlinked “follow up at this time” to set the time for follow-up to Today. Notice that the hyperlink changes to “Follow up Today.”

Next, I’m going to check the box next to “display a specific message in the New Item Alert window” and click the hyperlink “a specific message” to set the message displayed for any emails coming from uscourts.gov.

One thing to watch out for: In some cases, the checkbox next to “stop processing more rules” is automatically checked. Uncheck that, because that may keep any other rules you’ve established from working properly.

Once I click Next again, I can set any exceptions to the rule. I’m going to click Next to skip this, but notice you can exempt emails that have particular subject lines, recipients, or text within the body of the message.

Now I can name my new rule and, if I want, run it on the current contents of the Inbox to test it.

Click Finish, and your rule is complete.

Caveat: Always Go Back to Check the Order of Your Rules

One caveat: Rules do fire in a particular order, and each rule you make is placed by default at the top of the queue. If one of your rules moves an email out of the Inbox before another rule has had a chance to act on it, that could become a problem.

Always go back to Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts and check the order; if you need to move them around, you can use the arrows between Delete and Run Rules Now to reorder them, then click OK to save.

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