11 February 2008

Microsoft Outlook Rules and Duplicated E-mail

If you use Microsoft Outlook's rules to move incoming messages into folders, you could end up with duplicate e-mail messages if two or more rules can be applied.

Recently, I made new rules to move bug reports for some products into special product folders and I also had a "catch-all" rule to move all remaining bug reports into a general bug report folder. In other words, I had the following rules:

From bugsystem, Subject "product_1", move to "product_1" folder.
From bugsystem, Subject "product_2", move to "product_2" folder.
From bugsystem, move to "general" folder.

I thought once a rule was "fired" for a message, Outlook would process the next message. However when new bug reports arrived, Outlook created two copies of each message, one in the product's folder and one in the general bug report folder. It appears that Outlook processes all rules for a message before proceeding to the next message. Select the stop processing more rules action for each rule to make Outlook stop processing further rules for that message:

From bugsystem, Subject "product_1", move to "product_1" folder and "stop processing more rules".
From bugsystem, Subject "product_2", move to "product_2" folder and "stop processing more rules".
From bugsystem, move to "general" folder.

In Outlook 2003, Rules and Alerts dialog, you can see a hammer and spanner icon for each rule containing the stop processing more rules action.