A: When you create or enable a Microsoft Outlook rule, the rule applies only to future messages—not to content that has already been received. You have to run rules manually to retroactively apply them to existing content. When you create a new rule, you also have the option of applying the rule to existing messages by selecting a check box in the new rule creation confirmation dialog box, as Figure 1 shows.

Learn more: Outlook: Exporting Message Rules

135861 Figure 1

Figure 1: Applying a new rule to existing messages

 

If you want to manually apply a rule against messages already in your Outlook mailbox, you can select the Run Rules Now feature in the Rules and Alerts dialog box. In Outlook 2007 and earlier, you must separately select the rules that you want to manually run, as Figure 2 shows.

135861 Figure 2

Figure 2: Manually selecting rules to run in Outlook 2007



This method works fine, unless you have a long list of rules to apply. Outlook 2010 adds the Select All or Unselect All options in the Run Rules Now dialog box, as Figure 3 shows.
135861 Figure 3

Figure 3: Selecting all rules to run in Outlook 2010

 

Probably the only times you might need to run all of your rules manually is if a lot of email is imported into your mailbox at once or perhaps if your rules have been disabled for a period of time. Outlook 2010 makes it easier to run all your rules manually by including the Select All and Unselect All options.

Learn more: Q: When creating a new rule in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007, what happens if I apply the rule to message already in the folder?