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How to Fix Outlook Rules Not Working in Windows 10

Outlook is a powerful email client, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without issues. Many users have been reporting that one of the crucial features in Outlook called Rules isn’t functioning. In this article, you can learn how to troubleshoot the Outlook Rules not working on your Windows 10 system.
Fix Outlook Rules Not Working in Windows 10
(Source: Ledgeview Partners)

Rules in MS Outlook allow you to essentially give instructions to the software on what to do with your emails. This automates a huge chunk of organizing, making your job a whole lot easier. But what can you do when your rules stop working? Don’t panic - we’re here to help you fix them.

Common causes for Outlook Rules not working

There are several different reasons why your Outlook rules aren't working. For example, some settings prevent Outlook from properly carrying out rules. In other cases, corruption in your account or software could lead to an issue. Most commonly, the issues below end up breaking Outlook rules:

  • Rules exceeded the quota set for your mailbox
  • The send/receive settings file is corrupted on your device
  • Your POP4 or IMAP account is corrupted
  • Your rules are configured to run on a different computer
  • Rules aren’t enabled

No matter the culprit, our article will help you restore your application and assist you in automatically organizing your mailboxes again. Follow the steps below to check your mailbox for corruption, troubleshoot common errors.

Solved: Outlook Rules not working

Below are some of the true and tested methods of solving the Outlook Rules not working error for users on Windows 10. The methods have been updated with new solutions to get you ready for troubleshooting in 2021. If you need any assistance with your repair process, don't hesitate to contact us.

Method 1. Optimize the size of your rules

The file size of rules matters. The maximum rules quota is set to be 256KB by default. You can set the custom value in between 64KB to 256KBs. meaning that even a single character counts when you name your processes. Here are some tips to optimize file size, and ensure that the file size isn't causing issues:

  • Rename lengthy rule names. Don't give long, complicated names when creating a new rule. Try to keep it as short as possible in order to decrease the final file size. For example, we recommend using abbreviations.

  • Delete rules. It's good practice to remove any rule you no longer use, or rarely ever run. Doing so will continue to decrease the file size, and declutter your rule folder.

  • Combine similar rules. If you have multiple rules that accomplish similar results, it might be best to combine them into one single rule instead. Merge the steps together in order to reduce file size and open a slot for a new rule.

Method 2. Enable rules for your account

In some cases, rules might be disabled on your account, which leads to them not working. Check if your rules are enabled before proceeding with any of the troubleshooting methods below!

  1. Open your Outlook client.
    open Outlook client
  2. Click on the File tab, and stay on the Account Information tab.
  3. Click on the Manage Rules & Alerts button. The Rules and Alerts dialog box will open on your screen.
    Manage rules and alerts in Outlook
  4. Make sure that the checkboxes are selected for all of the accounts you wish to use rules on. Placing a checkmark will enable rules.

Method 3. Delete and remake your rules

An easy solution to your issue with Outlook rules could be simply deleting and remaking them again from scratch.

  1. Entirely exit out of Outlook.
    exit outlook through dialog box
  2. Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard to bring up the Run utility. Type in “outlook.exe /cleanrules” and press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys on your keyboard.
    • Warning! If more than 1 account is connected to Outlook, this method will delete the rules on those accounts as well.
  3. Outlook will launch with all of the rules deleted. Now, you can remake them and use our optimization tips to create rules again.

Method 4. Update Outlook to the latest version (Microsoft 365)

If you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you have access to software updates. Updating your Outlook client to the latest available version may fix the rules not working.

  1. Launch Outlook.
    Launch Outlook Client
  2. Click on the File tab in the Ribbon header interface.
    Outlook > File > Office Account
  3. Switch to the Office Account tab using the menu in the left side pane.
  4. Click on the Update Options button in the Office Updates section. Here, select Update Now if the option is available. Otherwise, you might already be on the latest version of Outlook.
  5. Wait for the update to download and install on your device. Your rules may start working again after the update.

Method 5. Change your email download settings

Client-side rules may fail to run if your settings prevent all messages to sync when offline. In this case, altering your settings could fix the issue of your rules not running properly.

  1. Open your Outlook client.
    Open Outlook client
  2. Click on the File tab, and stay on the Account Information tab.
    Outlook > Account Informaiton
  3. Click on the Account Settings button, then choose Account Settings from the drop-down menu.
    Outlook > Account Information > Account settings
  4. Stay on the default Email tab. Select the account you’re having issues with, then click on the Change button from the menu.
    change default email
  5. Under Offline Settings, drag the slider all the way to the right until it displays All. Doing so will make it that all messages are kept when you’re offline.
  6. Click on Next, then click OK. You need to restart Outlook for the changes to take place - afterwards, check if rules properly work.

Method 6. Disable the “Stop processing more rules” option

Outlook's rules run from top to bottom. If a rule doesn't work, it could be because a rule above has the "Stop processing more rules" checkbox enabled. Unchecking this box will continue running the rules below it.
Outlook Rules

  1. Launch Outlook. In the Home tab, click on the Rules button (found in the More section).
  2. Choose Manage Rules and Alerts from the context menu. This is going to open a new window.
  3. Go down on your list of rules and select the first rule. Once a rule has been selected, click on the Change Rule button.
  4. From the dropdown menu, select the Edit Rule Settings option, and then click on the Next button in the Select Condition window.
    Outlook > Stop processing more ruls
  5. Make sure that the Stop Processing More Rules option is disabled. If it’s not, click the checkbox once to make it unchecked. When done, click on the Next button.
  6. Click Next, then click Finish.

Method 7. Delete the .ost file to repair Outlook data

The .ost file is used to store Outlook data. If this file is damaged or corrupt, your rules could be affected. Deleting this file and running Outlook again will restore it to it.

  1. Completely exit Outlook and close any related processes in the Task Manager.
  2. Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. This is going to bring up the Run utility.
    Run dialog utility > control
  3. Type in “control” and press the Enter key on your keyboard. This will launch the classic Control Panel application.
    control panel
  4. Make sure to change your View by mode to Category. Doing so will display Control Panel tabs grouping them together.
    control panel view
  5. Click on the User Accounts option. Here, select Mail (Microsoft Outlook).
    User accounts
  6. Click on Email Accounts.
    click email account
  7. First, switch to the Data Files tab, and then select the email account causing issues with rules. Next, click on the Open File Location button.
    data files
  8. Select the corresponding .otr (Outlook Data File) file and right-click on it. Choose Delete from the context menu.
  9. Launch Outlook and check if rules are working properly.

Method 8. Make a new Outlook profile

If nothing has worked, you might be forced to create a new profile in Outlook and recreate your rules there. This process may seem tedious, but if you want to work with rules, it might be necessary.

  1. Completely exit Outlook and close any related processes in the Task Manager.
  2. Press the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. This is going to bring up the Run utility.
    run dialog
  3. Type in “control” and press the Enter key on your keyboard. This will launch the classic Control Panel application.
    control paenl
  4. Make sure to change your View by mode to Category. Doing so will display Control Panel tabs grouping them together.
    control panel view
  5. Click on the User Accounts option. Here, select Mail (Microsoft Outlook).
    user accounts
  6. Click on Show Profiles.
    show profiles
  7. Click Add to create a new profile. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a new profile.
    show profiles > ad profile
  8. Launch Outlook after setting up a new profile, and select the newly created profile when prompted. Check if the rules are operating normally. If prompted, also select Keep Client Rules if you wish to automatically import any client-side rules present on the device.

Final thoughts

If you need any further help with Office apps, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team, available 24/7 to assist you. Return to us for more informative articles all related to productivity and modern day technology!

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