To help process incoming messages, Windows Live Mail supports "
email rules", aka "
mail filters". Windows Live Mail calls these "message rules", and the way you create them is similar to the way you add them in Outlook Express (XP) and Windows Mail (Vista) . Just pick a matching condition to filter specific emails, and pick an action to apply to the messages matching that condition. The very "new rule" dialog, pictured on the left, is deceptively simple looking: the rules you can create are very powerful. In an upcoming tutorial, we'll show you how to setup an out-of-office auto-reply using a particular rule. Client-side rules (inside email Windows Live Mail) will only work with email accounts you've added as POP3, not IMAP or HTTP / DeltaSync. Unless you decide to add an email account as POP3, you can setup mail filters on the server: filters in Hotmail / Outlook.com; filters in Yahoo Mail; filters in AOL Mail; filters in Gmail.
Once you've opened Windows Live Mail, select the "Folders" tab in the ribbon and click on the "Message rules" button (last one on the right). The "New Mail Rule" dialog will open, with two scroll boxes at the top: the first set of checkboxes let you pick one condition for your filter; the second set offers the possible actions to apply. For future reference, this is also how you access existing rules: just close that dialog (when you're not trying to create a new rule), and you'll see the full listing.
Note: if it's the first time you create a rule, the "New Mail Rule" dialog will automatically open. Otherwise, the Rules listing will open: if that's the case, just click on the New button to get to that same "New Mail Rule" dialog.
When a new email arrives, Windows Live Mail will check it against all the message rules you've created. If any of them matches, the corresponding action will be applied. Here's a list of all the conditions you can setup. Just check the checkbox matching the incoming mail condition you want to use: as soon as you do, the Details pane at the bottom lets you customize that condition. The next section explains all the conditions you can use.
Just like you picked a condition, you need to tell Windows Live Mail what you want it to do with messages that were matched. Here to, just check the checkbox next to the action you want, and the Details pane at the bottom will let you narrow things down.
Once you've picked and customized at least one condition and one action of your filter, type a descriptive name for it in the "Enter a name for" to be at the bottom, and click on the "Save rule" button. Your new filter will be added to the bottom of the list. When emails arrive, Windows Live Mail will go through your rules, one-by-one, and from top to bottom: ensure that rules are in the order in which you want them. Select a rule and click on the "Move up" or "Move down" buttons: