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There are some people you never want to hear from. You can’t stop them from sending you emails, but you can set up Microsoft Outlook to automatically delete the emails as soon as they arrive. Here’s how.

There are two primary methods for automatically deleting emails in Outlook: Rules and Sweep. Rules are exactly what they sound like—rules for the Outlook client to follow. You can set up a rule that tells Outlook to permanently delete emails from a particular sender as soon as they arrive.

RELATED: How to Use Rules to Manage Your Email

Sweep is a tool built into the Outlook web app for clearing emails from your Inbox. It’s a bit simpler to use than rules, but it doesn’t have all the complexity and power of rules. However, it’s more than enough for this job.

A rule will only apply to the Outlook desktop client, and Sweep only applies to the Outlook web app. If you use both the web app and the desktop client, you’ll need to set up both.

RELATED: Use the Built-In Sweep Feature in Outlook Online to Clear Unwanted Emails

Use a Rule in the Outlook Desktop Client

Rules work in the folder you create them in, so you need to select an email in your Inbox for this to work. After you’ve selected an email, click Home > Rules > Create Rule.

The "Rules" menu with "Create Rule" highlighted.

In the “Create Rule” panel that opens, click “Advanced Options.”

The "Create Rule" panel.

Check the box next to the “From [name]” option. This is the person whose emails will be automatically deleted before you see them, so make sure it’s the right sender. From there, click “Next.”

The Rules Wizard with the "From" condition highlighted.

Next, check the “Permanently Delete It” checkbox.

The Rules Wizard with the "permenantly delete it" action highlighted.

A confirmation dialogue will be displayed. Click the “Yes” button.

The deletion confirmation message.

Now select the “Next” button and “Next” again to get to the final page of the wizard.

The "Next" button on the Rules Wizard.

Give your rule a name, switch on the “Run this rule now on messages in “Inbox”” option, and click “Finish.”

The final page of the Rules Wizard.

Your rule is now created, and any emails from that sender will immediately and automatically be deleted as soon as they get to your Inbox.

Use a Sweep in the Outlook Web App

Sweep works in specific folders like rules, so you need to select an email in your Inbox for this to work. After you’ve selected an email, click “Sweep” in the toolbar.

The Outlook toolbar with the "Sweep" button highlighted.

Select “Move all messages from the Inbox folder and any future messages,” set the “Move to” folder to “Deleted Items,” then click the “OK” button.

The Sweep panel.

That’s all there is to it. Click “OK” on the confirmation dialogue.

The Sweep confirmation dialogue.

Unlike the rule in the Outlook client app, Sweep won’t bypass the Deleted Items folder. This means that any items automatically deleted will be visible in the Deleted Items, so you’ll need to occasionally empty that folder.

Profile Photo for Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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