Ignore or Mute 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.

How to get rid of an email conversation or thread.

Sometimes you get emails on a topic that doesn’t matter to you and is cluttering up your Inbox. Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 have a fairly simple solution – the Ignore button.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Outlook%20Ignore%201.png image from Ignore or Mute emails in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

Ignore tells Outlook to move all existing and future emails with a certain subject to the Deleted Items folder. It is similar to, but not the same as, the Mute option in Gmail. Ignore isn’t available in Outlook 2011 for Mac nor in Outlook 2007 or previous (you’d have to make your own custom Rule instead).

Select one message from the conversation and click ‘Ignore’.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Outlook%20Ignore%202.png image from Ignore or Mute emails in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

Click ‘Ignore Conversation’ and the messages will disappear to the Deleted Items folder. Any future messages with that subject (i.e. conversation or thread) will go to Deleted Items automatically.

There’s no practical limit to the number of ignored conversations configured at any time – certainly thousands can be running.

If Outlook is connected to Exchange Server 2010 or later (including Office 365 customers) the Ignore rules are run at the server level as emails arrive. That means the conversations should move even if there’s no copy of Outlook running and you’re viewing the Inbox another way (Outlook Web Access or on a smartphone).

Stopping Ignore

To stop ignoring a conversation, find an ignored message in the Deleted Items folder. Look on the ribbon and you’ll see the Ignore button is selected, click on it to Unselect and the conversation will be restored to the Inbox.

http://img.office-watch.com/ow/Outlook%20Ignore%203.png image from Ignore or Mute emails in Outlook at Office-Watch.com

In Outlook 2007 you can right-click on an ignored message and choose Move | Disable Always Move Conversation.

Or you can select a single message and move it to the Inbox (or any other folder).

Auto Stop

Outlook will delete an Ignore rule after some days of inaction (i.e. no new messages arrive).

According to Microsoft, the Outlook 2010 default setting is 14 days.

We can’t find anything definitive from Microsoft for Outlook 2013 so, absent other evidence, it’s probably also 14 days. There’s various values given around the web from 30 to 180 days.

The Ignore expiry can be controlled from the registry

Outlook 2010


Outlook 2013


add a DWORD key called OnGoingActionsExpiration

And add an integer value for the number of days before an inactive conversation stops being ignored.

The list of Ignored conversations

There isn’t one! Outlook maintains a list of conversations to ignore in the mailbox store (PST or OST) under ‘Conversation Action Settings’ (visible to administrators) but Microsoft hasn’t seen fit to add a display of them to standard users.

You can remove all Ignore rules from the command line using the command:

outlook.exe /cleanconvongoingactions

this will erase all the Ignore conversations list but will not move any existing messages.

Ignore messages is a useful Outlook feature but, like many Office features, lacks proper transparency or flexibility. Many users complain about ‘missing’ messages, not realizing they are being moved and Ignored by Outlook. A list of the Ignored threads from the Outlook Rules dialog would help users trace the movement of messages and the reason for it.

Want More?

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