How to ‘refuse’ emails in Outlook

Office for Mere Mortals helps people around the world get more from Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Delivered once a week. free.

Outlook has a few options for refusing messages from certain email senders.

Outlook has a few options for refusing messages from certain email senders.

Occasionally you’ll get someone who sends lots of messages you don’t want to see.

Most commonly these are enthusiastic zealots on some subject and are trying to ‘spread the word’ on their pet subject. They are sending emails to everyone in their address book, probably with the best of intentions. These aren’t standard spam messages, yet often you don’t want to ask the person to stop for fear of offending them.

The solution is to keep receiving the emails but tell Outlook to ignore them in some way.

Junk Email

A fast solution is to use the Junk Email filter. The senders email address can be blocked which means any messages from that address go directly to the Junk E-Mail folder.

Putting it into the Junk E-Mail folder means you don’t see it but gives you the choice to recover the message if necessary.

However this will apply to all messages from that email address, which might be too much if the person sends messages you want to read.

To block a sender, right-click on a message, choose Junk then Block Sender.

Outlook - Junk E-mail - Block Sender.jpg image from How to

That message and all future messages will go to the Junk E-Mail folder.

Rule to delete

A more refined alternative is to use Outlook Rules. With rules you can target not just a particular sender but also other characteristics. This is useful if you want to filter only some messages from a person.

For example you might want to ignore messages with words like ‘UFO’ ‘Aliens’ ‘Moon’ ‘Hoax’ etc in either the subject or message body.

Go to the Manage Rules dialog and create a new rule for incoming email.

In the conditions:

  • From People or Public group = the email address or contact of the sender
  • With specific words in the subject or body = one or more keywords.

Outlook - Rule example for excluding some messages from a person.jpg image from How to

This example would trap messages from [email protected] that mention his fixations on Gumboots or Sheep.

Outlook also has some useful conditions to identify messages that are or are not specifically sent to you eg:

  • Sent only to me
  • Where my name is in the To box

… further down the conditions list ….

  • Where my name is in the Cc box
  • Where my name is in the To or Cc box
  • Where my name is NOT in the To box (we’ve capitalized the NOT since it’s easy to miss in Outlook)

On the next page of the wizard you set the actions to take.

Outlook - Rule action for excluding some messages from a person.jpg image from How to

We suggest moving to either the Junk E-mail or Deleted Items folders.


It’s not a good idea to setup an auto-reply (Rule action: ‘Reply using a specific template’) to each unwanted message – this just adds message traffic and probably won’t do any good. Better to indicate in your last message to the person that you won’t read future messages which will be deleted automatically.

Of course, the other option is to simply hit the delete key!

Want More?

Office Watch has the latest news and tips about Microsoft Office. Independent since 1996. Delivered once a week.