I'm using Outlook 2010, but I suspect my question applies to all versions. I'm part of some distribution lists that send an email to me every ~10 minutes. I want to receive those emails, but treat them as low priority - so I have a custom Outlook rule that places them in a subfolder of my Inbox and "clears the Message Flag". (that's the little envelope icon in the system tray that tells you that new mail has arrived)

I get "regular" mail that's not processed by any rules, so it winds up in my Inbox. The envelope icon appears for those situations, so that's good.

The problem is, once I get one of my "junk" emails - it clears the envelope icon out of the system tray and I'm unaware that new mail has arrived.

I ideally want any "regular mail" to show the envelope icon and I want my "junk mail" to never trigger the envelope icon to display.

How can I do that?

3 Answers 3


I have been doing this since Outlook 2000, you do not need to clear the flag.

I create a new rule that moves these distribution list messages to a folder under the inbox (I have a folder for each list). I also have other similar rules for specific groups of users (say everyone from companyabc.com).

When I receive mail for these lists, the message goes into the folder and I do not get the message flag. If mail comes directly into my inbox I get the flag and it does not remove itself until I read the message.

The distribution list folders could fill up with a billion messages, it doesn't change the notification.

Detailed rule creation instructions (Outlook 2010):

  1. On the Ribbon, go to the Home tab. Click Rules -> Create Rule. The Create Rule window will open.
  2. In the Create Rule window, click Advanced Options. The Rules Wizard will open on the conditions step.
  3. Select the applicable conditions to activate the rule. For my distribution lists, I select sent to people or public group.
  4. Edit the rule description if necessary. For my distribution lists I click the people or public groups hyperlink and select the distribution list(s).
  5. Click Next The Rules Wizard proceeds to the actions step.
  6. Select the move it to the xxxxx folder and select a folder in the rules description.
  7. Click Next. The Rules Wizard will proceed to the exceptions step. Generally I do not use this.
  8. Click Next. The Rules Wizard will proceed to the Finish rule setup step. Specify a name and turn the rule on. You may run it now if you wish as well to test.
  9. Click Finish.

Wouldn't setting the rule to mark the "junk" mail as read prevent Outlook from displaying the new mail icon?

To modify the system tray icon without changing the attributes of the email (such as marking it read) would probably require some sort of macro utilizing the code listed here. There may be 3rd party programs that would be able to handle this, however, i do not know of any (i have not looked either).

  • but won't that send the mail to the "Junk Mail" folder? I don't want to do that, I just want Outlook to recognize that "this incoming message isn't worth showing the envelope icon for"
    – Mike
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 17:27
  • no. marking an email as read should not change what folder your emails are placed in. that would still be controlled by your rule as well.
    – Xantec
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 17:32
  • ok, but I don't really want it to be marked as read either (sorry, should've mentioned that). I want my "junk" mail to be moved to the right folder, still unread, but the envelope icon not to display to alert me "hey, there's new mail here you need to read!"
    – Mike
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 19:35
  • updated answer. it is a solution, but perhaps not one easily implemented.
    – Xantec
    Commented Nov 10, 2010 at 20:05

You should make a blanket rule that displays the message flag when you get a new email. Then put the "junk" mail rule before that, and add the "stop processing" checkbox to it.

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