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Search Folder or Conditional Formatting for internal mail

I’m looking for a way to more easily recognize internal mail, i.e. mail coming from our domain.

I’ve been successful to do this for several external domains via Conditional Formatting (as described in Highlight mail from a specific domain) but when I try this for our own domain, it doesn’t work.

Is there a way to achieve this either via Conditional Formatting or a Search Folder for our internal mail as well?

The reason why the described method doesn’t work for internal mail is because Exchange doesn’t use regular SMTP addresses (with the @ character) for internal mail but X.500 addresses which have a completely different format. Sadly, by default, you won’t be able to filter on this address type.

A proper way to do this still, is to apply a special form which can isolate this type of addresses (this doesn’t require administrator rights). You can then use the normal filtering techniques to create the Search Folder or Conditional Formatting rule.

As a quick alternative, you can also choose not to install the form but change the color of all external mail instead of all internal mail.

Note: Conditional Formatting is called Automatic Formatting in Outlook 2007 and previous.

Installing the form and applying the filter

  1. Apply the “View Sender Address form” as instructed in the guide:
    Show sender’s e-mail address as a column in message view
    (there is no need to actually configure the view, only install the cfg-file)
  2. Open the “Condition…” or “Criteria…” dialog from the Conditional Formatting dialog or Search Folder.
    • Automatic Formatting Outlook 2007 and previous
      View-> Arrange By-> Custom…-> button Automatic Formatting…
    • Conditional Formatting Outlook 2010
      tab View-> View Settings-> Conditional Formatting…
    • Search Folder Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007
      File-> New-> Search Folder
    • Search Folder Outlook 2010
      tab Folder-> New Search Folder

    Conditional Formatting - Internal mail 
    When using Conditional Formatting, add a new rule with a unique color.

    Search Folder - Internal Mail
    When using a Search Folder, use "Create a custom Search Folder."

  3. Select the Advanced tab.
  4. Type the following;
    • Field: From E-mail Address
    • Condition: contains
    • Value: /O=
  5. As some internal mails can also be sent by different means, add the following condition as well (of course with your own company domain);
    • Field: From E-mail Address
    • Condition: contains
    • Value:

With the custom form "From E-mail Address" applied, you can filter on internal Exchange addresses as well.
With the custom form applied, you can filter on internal Exchange addresses as well.

Note 1: The /O= stands for the beginning of any X.500 address which is being used internally by Exchange.

Note 2: You can find the “From E-mail Address” field as well by clicking on the “Field” button and choosing: Sender’s Email Address-> From E-mail Address. If it is not listed yet, choose Forms…-> select: Sender’s Email Address-> Add-> Close.

Alternative: Highlight all external mail instead

If you are looking for a quicker way to do this, and don’t care whether you change the color of all internal mails or all external mails, then you can also achieve it via a Conditional Formatting rule in the following way;

  1. Add a new Conditional Formatting rule and call it for instance “External mail”.
  2. Click on the Font… button to assign it a unique color.
  3. Press on the Condition… button.
  4. On the Messages tab, type only the @ character in the From field.

All external mail will show in this color and all internal mail will show in black.

Conditional Formatting - With a very minimalistic condition, you can filter out mails which haven’t been sent internally via Exchange.
With a very minimalistic condition, you can filter out mails which haven’t been sent internally via Exchange.

Note: Personally I prefer the method with the custom form as it offers direct access to the actual email addresses. This alternative method is more of a quick and dirty workaround as it can have several side effects such as overruling other formatting rules and color coding internal messages which were sent by other internal systems via their SMTP address. You can overcome this by adding more rules but this would then only complicate things even more.

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