E-mail has become a popular way to communicate with friends, relatives and business associates. Managing your e-mail is much easier if you set up message rules that store e-mail in separate folders. Microsoft Outlook Express, the most popular mail program, lets you specify the criteria it will use in saving messages to various folders.
In Outlook Express, click Tools, then Message Rules, then Mail. You can select the conditions for your new rule by clicking in a box in the "Select the conditions for your rule:" section of the New Mail Rule window. Sections in this window are numbered from 1 to 4. There are several choices in the first section, ranging from words contained in the From or Subject lines to messages that have attachments.
For example, click the "Where the from line contains people" option. The line "Where the from line contains people" will appear in section 3, Rule Description. The words "Contains people" are underlined and appear in color. Click "Contains people" and the Select People window opens.
You can type in one name at a time or click on the Address Book button to add people in your address book to this rule. The People box will display each name you type in quotes. Click OK when you are finished adding people. The "Contains people" line will now have the names you added, underlined and highlighted in color.
Now select an action for the rule by clicking next to one of the available actions in section 2 of the New Mail Rule window. Choices here allow you to move or copy messages that meet the criteria for your rule to separate folders. One of the choices here is to highlight selected messages with color, making them easy to identify. This is a good choice if you don't want your e-mail messages saved in different folders.
Each time you click in the box next to an action, that action appears underlined and in color in box 3. Clicking on it in box 3 allows you to set up conditions. If you specify moving messages to a specified folder, clicking lets you create a new folder or pick one that already exists.
Outlook Express will give your new rule a name such as New Mail Rule #1 in section 4. You can click that name, use your backspace key to remove it and then type the name you want to assign to the rule. Click OK when you are finished.
Click the Apply Now button on the Mail Rules tab, highlight the new rule and click the Apply Now button in the Apply Mail Rules Now window. Outlook Express will apply your new rule to any existing and every new e-mail message that meets the conditions for that rule. Click OK. Click Close and then OK.
Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640).