I had a question about message rules in Outlook. In Outlook Express, I can create a message rule that highlights in color messages based on a criteria. I could not find this capability in the message rule tool of Outlook. Can Outlook do it?
Outlook supports Automatic Formatting (called Conditional formatting in newer versions of Outlook), but does it using Views, not Rules.
In Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, you'll need to set up the conditional formatting rules in View Settings (on the View tab).
Or open it from the Customize Views menu by right-clicking on the field names at the top of the message list and choose Custom or Customize.
In Outlook 2007 and older, the easiest way to begin using it is to open the Organize pane and choose Using Colors, accessing Organize from the Tools menu.
The formatting options available are limited, unless you click Automatic formatting… in the upper right corner. This allows you to set more advanced automatic formatting rules, including selecting fonts and font attributes. All color rules created using this method apply to the currently selected view.
As I mentioned, these 'rules' are associated with views. If you change views or move items to new folders, you'll lose the formatting and it returns when you reselect the view.
Because its view based, you can set formatting rules on any view using the Define Views dialog (browse the Views, Arrange By or Current view menu to locate it.) Use the Define views dialog to delete any automatic formatting rules you've created, either by resetting the view or deleting them from the Modify, Automatic Formatting dialog.
Published February 25, 2005. Last updated on August 19, 2014.