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Sorting Email with Filters

Different Folders or Mailboxes   Make a New Folder   Putting Mail into Folders   Making Folders on the Fly   Moving Emails Quickly   Putting a Certain Folder at the Top or Bottom   Making Incoming Emails Land in Specific Folders   Getting Several Names to Land in One Box   Sorting Sent Items   Reading Several Consecutive Emails

In the computer world, filters may separate the wanted from the unwanted, but they may also be used to sort useful things into groups or categories. For email, you need both kinds.

Where OE's filters come into their own is in sorting your incoming emails.

No doubt the people who email you fall into different categories—friends, work, business and so on. These can be divided into subcategories, too.

Different Folders or Mailboxes

basic OE windowTo begin with, OE probably shows you something like this.

Every incoming email goes into the Inbox. When it contains new or unread items, its name is shown in bold and the number of unread items is appended.

Emails that you've just written and sent go into a queue in the Outbox.

If you write an email while you're not online, when you hit the Send button it will go into the Outbox. When you close Outlook Express, you'll be asked if you want to send that email now. Since you'd've gone online if you did want to send straight away, the answer is probably "No".

The Sent Items box holds copies of emails you've already sent.

Deleted Items are those you've deleted but which will remain until you close OE—or some later time if you haven't checked “Empty Messages from the Deleted Items folder on exit”. It's best to make sure that this is checked, by the way.

Saved copies of emails you've been writing or have written but have not sent wait in the Drafts folder. (When writing anything but the very shortest emails, keep hitting Ctrl+s to make sure that your work is saved. You'll get a cheery message box the first time you do this, but you can tell it to hide its face in future and it will do so.)

You can make a separate folder for each category or for each person and tell OE to put mail into the appropriate folders.

You can put some folders inside other folders.

Make a New Folder

First Way

menu that allows making of a new folderNow, if you right click on Local Folders or on the Inbox, this menu will pop up.

Click on New Folder and you'll be invited to type a name for the new folder.

“Friends” may be a good name with which to begin. Type it in and click OK.

newly created Friends folder under Local Foldersnewly created Friends folder under Inbox

Instantly a new, empty folder called Friends appears below Local Folders or below the Inbox, depending on your choice.

Now, you can right click on the Friends folder, click New Folder and type the name for a subfolder for a particular person.

Make as many subfolders as you need. You'll need to right click on the Friends folder each time you begin to make a new subfolder.several new subfolders

Putting Mail into Folders

pop-up menu on selected files.By default, email is sorted by the date and time at which it arrived. To temporarily sort it in any other way, you click the label of the column by which you wish to sort. Thus you can click the attachment symbol and make all emails with attachments fall to the bottom of the Inbox. Click it a second time and they'll come to the top. Clicking the Flag symbol twice will bring all flagged messages to the top.

Sorting any folder in this way will affect all other folders; when you change the sort order back to date, all other folders will be similarly sorted.

Right now we're interested in the name of the sender, so click From and the names will be sorted in alphabetic order.

Now select a bunch of emails that are all from the same person. You do this by clicking the first one, holding Shift and clicking the last one.

Right click on the selected emails and a menu will pop up. Click Move to Folder and you'll be able to select the folder into which you want those emails to go.Selecting the appropriate folder

Making Folders on the Fly

Suppose that after you've made your set of subfolders and sorted the From column you realise that you have a bunch of emails for which you haven't made a subfolder. That's OK. Proceed as if the subfolder does exist. Select them, right click and choose Move to Folder.

Be a tiny bit careful here. Say this set of emails is from Barbara. Notice which folder is highlighted. In this picture the Alex folder is still selected from the last operation. If you immediately click the New Folder button and type in Barbara, the Barbara folder will be made as a subfolder of Alex.

Therefore, before you click the New Folder button, move the highlight from Alex to Friends by clicking Friends just once. Then go ahead. All of Barbara's emails will be placed into a new folder called Barbara which is a subfolder of Friends.

Moving Emails Quickly

There's a much quicker way to put emails into existing folders, bypassing dialogue boxes.

dragging emails to a folder Highlight the files you wish to move, keep the mouse button pressed and simply drag towards the destination folder until it becomes highlighted, then let go. When you begin to drag, the “No” sign circle with diagonal bar will follow you cursor for a few seconds. Don't worry. It'll change once you're near the folder you're interested in.

Once you've finished, click once or twice at the top of the Received column so that incoming emails will sorted by date.

You can use this same method to move whole folders, too.

Putting a Certain Folder at the Top or Bottom

To force a folder you've made yourself to move to the top or bottom of a list, give it a prefix. In my Friends folder I have a subfolder called Occasional. I use it for emails from people who write infrequently—and each of those has a folder within the Occasional folder. I've put a "z" infront of that folder's name, so instead of being Occasional it's z-Occasional. It is right at the bottom of the Friends folder. Had I wanted it to come to the top, I might've used an "a".

Making Incoming Emails Land in Specific Folders

Make message rule from this emailOpen an email you've received. On the menu bar of the email itself, click Message, then slide down the menu and click Create Rule from Message

The New Mail Rule box will open. It will already have a tick beside Where the From line contains people and it will have the "from" address of that email showing in blue in the bottom part of the box.

You can of course choose the second option: Where the subject contains certain words because you could make a folder for "Bowling Club", "Newsletters" or anything at all. This works if all letters from members of that group have some specific word, words or code in the subject line. Say you belong to a group that exchanges recipes; you could all agree that the subject line must always include [COOK].

If you subscribe to several mailing lists, this is very useful for keeping emails sorted.

Now put a tick beside Move it to the specified folder in the second box. This will cause the word "specified" to appear in blue in the bottom part of the box.

Make message rules in this box.

Click on the blue word "specified" and you will have a view of all your local folders, just as you did when moving emails. Once again, you are offered the opportunity to make a new folder if necessary.

Folders with unread messages appear bold.When new mail comes from that person (or group), it will go immediately to their folder. The name of the folder will become bold so that you'll know that there is at least one unread message in it.

Getting Several Names to Land in One Box

Say you have an group of friend whose emails you want to collect into one folder, but it's not the formal sort of group where a code in the subject line could be agreed upon. What you do is this.

box where you input a listOpen an email from any one of these friends and start building a message rule.

Once you can see that person's name in blue in the bottom part of the box, click on it.

You'll get this box, with the name already showing in the lower part.

Type another name in the top place and click the Add button. To save typing, you can click the Address Book button, choose a name and double click it. This name will go straight into the bottom part of the box.

Continue adding names in either of these ways until you have listed all you want to. As far as I know, there is no limit to the number of names you can add.

Click the Options button.

Be sure to choose the correct options. Be very sure, if you want the letters from everyone on your list to go into the same box, that you tick the second option beside number 2. You want an email to go into this box if it is from any of the people on your list.

I can't really imagine why it'd be likely that you'd get an email from all of the people on your list; a petition, perhaps?

Sorting Sent Items

Sorting your incoming mail is only half the job. If you want to make sure that you're not about to repeat a story, or if you'd like to recall an email conversation that you had with a certain person months ago, you'll need the copies of the emails that you sent to them in the same folder as the ones they sent to you..

There is a way that you can have Outlook Express move Sent Items into folders you've named, but it's not automatic, involves a lot of clicking, and seems more complicated than the method I use. (I did try the other way, but it took forever.)

Just click at the top of the To column, so that names are sorted alphabetically, then grab a bunch of emails you've sent to one person and drag them to the appropriate folder. Once you've put all Sent Items where you want them, click once or twice at the top of the Sent column so that sent emails are arranged in date order again.

Reading Several Consecutive Emails

If you want to check a coversation you had with a particular person, perhaps months ago, you can read through them very easily.

Open the folder. Double click the first message. When you've read it, click either the Next or Previous button. If you have your most recent emails at the top of the box, as I do, Next will actually give you the previous email. You'll get used to it.smiley

Each read email will close as you open the next one in this way.

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.

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