Tip 42: Stop Processing More Rules

Rules are processed in the order they are listed in the Rules Wizard and you can rearrange the rules to better control which rules process which messages.

Stop processing more rules conditionAdd a Stop Processing action to each rule to prevent subsequent rules from processing messages which are processed by a rule.

If you want more than one rule to process messages, don't add the stop processing action to earlier rules or put that rule at the top of your Rules list.

If you have a lot of rules, you'll improve the efficiency of Rules Wizard if you put the most active rules at the top of the list and use the Stop Processing action in most of your rules.

Please note that this action only stops the processing of the current message that meets the condition of the rule, it does not stop the rules engine from processing additional messages. When a message matches the rule, Outlook does 'whatever' to the message then moves on to process the next message, as a result, using Stop Processing can save a (little) bit of time.

For example, say you have a rule to move mail from Bob and a second rule to move mail with the subject “Hello!”. If Bob sends you a message with the subject Hello!, both rules will apply (resulting in duplicate messages). If you use stop precessing on the rules, after the first rule moves the message Outlook moves on to process the next message instead of checking Bob's message against the Hello rule or additional rules.

Published September 30, 2003. Last reviewed on September 6, 2013.

  • wolfgang

    Is there a way to permanently remove the default "Stop Processing More Rules". It's very irritating that we have to remove it on every rule. Is there a way to program rules like When I have an Email address that I always want to create a folder and have every email with that email moved into it?

  • Diane Poremsky

    Stop processing: no, you can't remove it. You should only remove it when you want a message processed by 2 or more rules, if the conditions are met. It tells the rules engine to stop processing the message against additional rules if it meets the condition of that rule, it does not stop rules from processing additional messages.

    for example, you have a rule to move mail from bob and a second rule to move mail with the subject "Hello!". If bob sends you a message with the subject Hello!, both rules will apply (potentially resulting in duplicate messages). If you use stop precessing, after the first rule moves the message, outlook moves on to the next message instead of checking it against more rules.

    On creating folders: no, not within outlook's rules engine. There are addins that can do this so it is possible, if you have programming skills.

  • imranWC


    We have about 20 rules setup in outlook to forward emails to users based on senders "email" addresses. These emails contain sales orders, and the rules help us route the orders to the right customer service agent. Rules work fine when the original email arrives from the sender by forwarding the email, but if for some reason sender re sends the email using reply method,those emails do not get forwarded, even though rules are based on to forward all emails from the senders. Every rule has "Stop processing more rules" box checked. Do you think that is what's causing the issue?

  • D Poremsky

    And the only condition in the rule is 'if sender address is... " ?

    Test a couple of rule using 'words in the header' (the address is the word) instead of using the email address condition.

  • PhredE

    It strikes me that someone with a poor command of English wrote the template for this action.
    The text says "STOP PROCESSING MORE RULES' [my emphasis].
    For years, in the back of my mind, I've remained wary of the result of this instruction. A rule could be one in a set fifty rules [sic] - and then, after just getting started - A rule [sic!] comes along and says 'Stop (processing any more rules)'.
    It just says STOP.
    This is madness.
    It doesn't say (during the processing of a potentially large number of rules): "While acting on this message, don't go on to process more rules for this one; go on and process more messages, starting from the first rule at the top".
    It just doesn't.
    It says: perform this action - THEN STOP! Rules over. Pencils down. Go home.
    It's the processing of rules that's happening, not the examining of one or a few messages; the current purring, beating, running, warm thing that's active is the Rules Engine. But one little message tells it to shut down.
    I hope this helps.

  • PhredE

    And in addition: what's this about 'moving' creating copies?
    If I move a chair around a table, I don't leave copies of the chair where I first took it from.
    If I write a rule for a message that says 'If [so and so], move it to [somewhere]', I expect it to be moved. If I then say 'If [something else], then move it [somewhere else] I expect it to be moved from where I first moved it to, to the second place.
    There's only one chair.
    The rules engine needs a lot of work, IMHO.
    (The moving of rules up and down the list, for instance.)

  • http://www.slipstick.com/ D Poremsky

    Unfortunately, they don't have space in the rules to use your suggestion... 'stop processing this message' would fit though. I'm assuming the engineer who added that condition thought it made sense (typical engineer-think :)) but it could also be a limitation of machine translation - they need the phrase to make sense in the translation for localization.