What happened to the Outlook RT spam filter?
If you’ve been using a Surface RT or Surface 2 with Outlook 2013 RT, you may have noticed that the spam filter (or Junk button) is available but it’s greyed out.
You could assume that something is broken or that it’s a bug. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s intentionally disabled for a POP3, IMAP and Outlook.com (Exchange ActiveSync) accounts in Outlook RT. However, if you happen to be connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server, the feature is available and works normally.
Microsoft says that the Outlook RT spam filter feature has been disabled for most types of e-mail to save power consumption and extend battery life.
No, I’m not kidding.
Outlook RT Spam Filter Disabled: How exactly is it saving energy?
Microsoft spent a lot of time tweaking every aspect of Windows RT to squeeze every last second of battery life that they could. One of the things they did was to disable the junk mail filtering feature in Outlook RT because it takes CPU cycles to look at each mail that comes in and decide if it’s spam. Of course, CPU cycles take power.
The reason that it is still available for Exchange accounts is because the Junk E-mail Filter settings you set in Outlook but synced with the Exchange server. So, the processing takes place on the Exchange server, not on the Outlook client and thus there’s no additional power loss.
Outlook RT Junk Button Disabled: Sigh… OK, now what?
Since the Junk email feature in Outlook RT is not going to work, we have to look at some alternatives.
The first option is to configure the Junk E-mail Filter for your mail account on the server. Of course, each mail system out there has a different method for doing this (if it even has one). The biggest problem with this method is that you have to use a browser to log into the web interface every time you need to designate a message as spam or not spam. This is hardly an ideal solution.
Fortunately, there’s another (possibly better) option. You can use the Rules functionality built into Outlook RT to build your own spam filters. If you’re not familiar with Rules in Outlook, it’s a feature that allows you perform an action on items in Outlook, based on some configurable logic. For example, you can make a rule to play a specific sound when your mother’s email arrives in your Inbox.
OK, I could go on and on about Rules but let’s get back to using it to make a spam filter. Just follow the instructions below. If you can’t read the screenshots, click on them to make them larger. The larger picture will open in a new tab.
Marking a Message as Spam in Outlook RT
- In Outlook RT, highlight the message you want to mark as spam.
- Select Home from the top bar then select Rules
- Next, select the “Always move messages from” option at the top of the contextual menu that appears. The wording will be slightly different as it incorporates the senders name.
- When the Rules and Alerts window appears, make sure you select the folder where you want to put the junk mail. In this case, I’m going to just send them to Trash. Tap OK when you’re ready.
That’s it. Pretty easy. Using this method, you can add new spam rules quickly. In addition, it makes it easy to remove a spam rule if you discover you were a little over-zealous. In the next section, we’ll cover how you would remove a spam rule if you needed to..
Removing a Spam Rule in Outlook RT
- From the Home tab, select Rules from the ribbon menu
- Select Manage Rules & Alerts
- When the Rules and Alerts window appears, you can change or delete the rules you’ve created. Since we used the “Always move messages from” option, the rules should be named for each sender you designated as a spammer
Hopefully, this helps your better manage your email when using Outlook RT. As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please let us know.
Also, I’d like to thank Bennett Brooke who originally asked the question about spam filtering in Outlook RT.