How to use Clutter in Outlook… with and without Office 365

By standss Monday, March 7th, 2016


Microsoft introduced the Clutter feature for Office 365. In this post, I share how Clutter was designed to declutter your Inbox… my own experience… and what you can use instead.

What is Clutter

Clutter was introduced for Office 365 users at the end of 2014. Microsoft says that Clutter was designed to help you focus on your most important messages in your Inbox.

It uses machine learning to identify lower priority messages and move them out if the Inbox to a new Clutter folder.

How to use Clutter (if you have Office 365)

By default, Clutter is turned off. You need to go to Outlook Web Access (OWA) to turn Clutter on (or off).

There are instructions for doing this on Microsoft’s website here.

My Experience

I find that Clutter does a pretty good job of identifying which emails are newsletter etc and moving them away to the Clutter folder. My Inbox has less emails and they are mainly the ones that I need to work on.

To be honest, I don’t read (or need to read) most of the emails in the Clutter folder.

However… the problem is that Clutter also gets it wrong!

I have found that it occasionally moves out emails that need my attention… and sometimes those emails need timely responses.

As an example, a few weeks ago I had to get my credit card reissued because it had been used fraudulently. The card in question has several important monthly online payments linked to it… payments that were essential for our business.

The payments for these (obviously) could not be processed because the card had changed. Unfortunately, some of the emails related to the card failing ended up in the Clutter folder.

It was only by coincidence that I looked in the Clutter folder for something else and discovered the payment warnings.

So…if you decide to use Clutter, I recommend checking the clutter folder once a day for any important emails.

Otherwise you can turn it off and try the following

Getting the Benefits of Clutter (without using Clutter)

I think the goal of Clutter is still worth achieving i.e. getting lower priority emails out of your Inbox and to a separate folder which you can read at a time of your choosing…

… and to be honest you probably will find that you don’t choose to read those emails very often. I know I don’t.

You can achieve this by creating a folder (called say Newsletters) and then using Rules to move the relevant emails to the folders automatically.

You can find instructions on using Outlook Rules to Declutter your Inbox here.

The problem with this as that it takes a lot of work to maintain rules.

The automated way: Use the Newsletters feature that is built into QuickFile for Outlook.

Both the Pro and Ultimate versions of QuickFile have a feature that aims to do what Clutter does but leave control in your hands.

If you’re one of the thousands of user of QuickFile for Outlook, this is all your need to do.

Right Click over the email and click Newsletter.

The email will automatically be moved to the Newsletters folder (created by QuickFile inside your Inbox). All future emails for the same newsletter will automatically be moved there.

Now your Inbox will stay clear of these emails but your important emails will still make it through.

Note: QuickFile for Outlook works can be used with any type of email account in Outlook including POP3 and Office 365.

If you’re not a user yet, you can download a trial copy of QuickFile for Outlook from here.

Categories : Outlook Email Filing & Management Tip, Outlook Email Tips, QuickFile for Outlook

One thought on “How to use Clutter in Outlook… with and without Office 365

  1. “Newsletter” feature of Quickfile seems like a reasonable alternative unless you use more than one computer; e.g., laptop at home and desktop at work. Is this a ‘client-side’ rule that will only be seen by “Quickfile’ on one computer? Is there a way to merge Quickfile rules so that they apply to all computers that use quickfile on the same Microsoft Exchange account?

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