80-20 Rule – Outlook Emails Tip 2: Outlook Automatically Highlights Important Emails

By: standss , Oct 22nd, 2013

In the first tip last week, we showed you how to automatically process newsletter emails using Outlook rules to ensure that only actual work related emails are in your inbox… This way you are focused on your real work, your inbox remains clean and you can easily find the newsletters later when you want to read them.

Ever wished that your most important emails or emails that interest you would automatically stand out from the ocean of emails in your inbox?  It just saves you so much time then going through your emails one at a time and deciding which ones to do first.

I’ve setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.

You can do this using Outlook only (no additional software required) and it’s super easy to setup.

Here’s how:

  • Go to the Folder in which the emails are. This can be the Inbox or any other folder.
  • In Outlook 2013/2010, Click View on the Ribbon and then click View Settings.
    In old versions, on the toolbar, Click View > Current View > Customize Current View to display the Customize View screen.
  • In Outlook 2013/2010, Click Conditional Formatting… button
    In old versions, Click the Automatic Formatting… button.


  • Click Add
  • Enter a name for the rule e.g. “Color Code Outlook Emails”
  • Click the Font button and use the resulting screen to choose how you want emails to be highlighted (I chose the colour Red and Bold). Click OK to return to the previous screen.
  • Click the Condition button to display the Filter screen and enter your criteria and click OK.


In my case I chose;
Search for the word(s): Outlook
In: Subject and message body

  • Click OK 3 times to return to your Folder.

The current emails in your inbox (or any other folder) will now be automatically color coded based on the criteria you have setup.

You can also use this technique to highlight other important emails for example:

  • Emails from your most important clients (you don’t want to upset them)
  • Emails from your Boss (you’d definitely want to check his/her email first :))
  • Email from your partners/resellers/affiliates (get new leads and close sales)
  • And more…

Do you have other techniques to highlight important emails in Outlook and stay focused?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

2 Replies to “80-20 Rule – Outlook Emails Tip 2: Outlook Automatically Highlights Important Emails”

  1. LOVE this idea on highlighting in red! Do you have any suggestions for how to manage emails that turn into chat sessions? My boss especially uses them to “chat” back and forth, mixing conversation in with important info. Help!

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