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Move messages automatically after marking them as Read

I’d like to organize my emails into separate folders automatically but only after I’ve read them.

How do I create such a message rule?

Move when Read buttonThe short answer here is; You can’t, as rules are being processed during Send/Receive and are not tied to the “Mark as Read” action.

However, there are various other sorting methods to achieve the same thing or something similar. There is also an add-in available to add the functionality exactly as requested though.

Sort directly and read from a Search Folder

Today's Unread Mail buttonPersonally, I hardly use the Inbox anymore but work from my “Today’s Unread Mail” Search Folder and have rules sort my messages directly when they are being received.

This way I’d still have an overview of all my latest emails just like I’d have when I would let everything come into my Inbox.

The Today’s Unread Mail folder has been set as my default startup folder in Outlook and is also listed as the first folder in Favorites.

Quick Steps

Quick Steps buttonIn addition to that my Search Folder, I have several Quick Steps configured that mark a message as read and move it to a different folder similar to my “Done” Quick Step.

This allows me to quickly overrule the automatic sorting mechanism or fine tune where it ends up being archived without needing to use the Move menu (saves me a few clicks).

You can of course also just use Quick Steps to mark a message as read and move them to a different folder instead of using rules altogether.

Extra tip!
You can assign keyboard shortcuts to your Quick Steps as well.

Run rules manually

Manage Rules & Alerts buttonAnother way to go would be to create your moving rules but not enable them so your emails won’t be sorted automatically when they are being received. Then, after a mail reading session or when you want to clean up, you can run your rules manually via “Run Rules Now” so that the messages are still being moved more or less automatically.

  • Outlook 2007
    Tools-> Rules and Alerts…-> button: Run Rules Now…
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    File-> Manage Rules and Alerts-> button: Run Rules Now…

When you have lots of rules, you can also trigger this process via a macro so you can do this with 1 click.

A similar method is discussed here: Applying message rules to the Junk E-mail folder.

Timed Email Organizer add-in

Timed Email Organizer buttonDon’t like the workarounds and just want a more powerful message rule manager?

With the Timed Email Organizer add-in from Sperry Software you can also create rules that are timed or tied to a specific action. This for instance allows you to create the following rules;

  • Automatically move the email after it has been read.
  • Move any email that is over one day old and replied to.
  • Move all emails from a particular company into a specified folder.
  • Raise the priority of any emails that have not been responded to in over two hours.
  • Delete emails from Groupon, Facebook and the like after two weeks.

Rules can also be executed against your Sent Items folder so that as well will no longer be a pile of unsorted messages. In addition, you can create rules that act based on the attachment name or its file-extension; These are all actions which can’t be performed with the built-in Outlook message rules wizard.

View: Timed Email Organizer (discount code: BH93RF24)