How to send a copy of an email using a rule in Microsoft Outlook

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Sending emails is an integral part of our daily routines. The easier we can make this process, the better. Imagine you want to send a copy of an email message to a specific person. There are many situations where you would be expected to remember to add an address to the Cc or Bcc controls when sending emails. The problem is remembering to do it. Most of us remember this after sending the message, so we forward the message from the Send folder. It’s not a lot of wasted time, but it’s annoying, and you can avoid it.

SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A Side-by-Side Analysis with Checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

In this tutorial, I will show you how to configure a rule in Microsoft Outlook which automatically sends a copy of an email based on the conditions you specify. Rules are easy to implement, and once they’re in place, you won’t have to remember anything other than to delete the rule when it’s no longer relevant.

I use Microsoft 365 Desktop on a 64-bit Windows 10 system, but you can use older versions of Outlook. Outlook Mail supports rules.

What is a ruler in Outlook?

Simply put, a rule is a set of triggered statements. The trigger can be several things; in this case, the trigger sends an email. Instructions are a set of steps taken when triggered.

You must be in the messaging window to access the rules as follows:

1. Click the Home tab.

2. In the Move group, click the Rules drop-down menu.

If an existing email is “opened”, the Rules option is in the Message tab. If you are creating a new email, this option is not available.

In Outlook Mail, click the Settings option and click the View all Outlook settings link at the bottom of the Settings pane. Click Mail, then click Rules. The resulting wizard is different, but you should have no problems.

How to create a rule in Outlook

Creating a rule in Outlook is a big topic. We reduce this to sending a copy of an email to a specific person or group. Therefore, you won’t have to remember to add addresses to the Cc and Bcc controls. The rule removes a huge burden – the burden of remembering to copy other people manually.

For demonstration purposes, I recommend using your own email address to avoid messaging anyone else. However, if you’re using a free email service like Gmail, you might not see the copy of the email, because Gmail has some weird rules about resending what it considers a duplicate. When it encounters the same email addresses, it may not show you the copies. If so, you can try again using a friend’s email address for the test, with their permission of course.

The first step is to emphasize the need for a rule. In this case, we want to send a copy of an email to someone based on a set of conditions. Fortunately, the rules wizard offers quite a few conditions, as you will see:

1. In the Mail window, click the Home tab.

2. In the Move group, click the Rules drop-down menu.

3. Choose Manage Rules & Alerts from the drop-down menu (Figure A).

Figure A

Create a new rule.

4. In the resulting dialog box, click New Rule.

5. In the first wizard pane, select Apply rule to messages I send (Figure B). In the next pane, you’ll add a condition to refine this. If you’re using Outlook Mail, all the options are in one dialog box, so you won’t click Next. You won’t have as many steps to complete this rule.

Figure B

This option will trigger the rule every time you send a message to the specified person or group.

6. Click Next.

7. In the next pane, click the Send to people or public group link in the top pane.

8. In the lower pane, click the link and specify the person or group receiving the original message (Figure C). I am using my email address for demo purposes. You should do the same to avoid sending someone a test email unnecessarily. When you apply it for real, select a person or group from the list to add them to the To list at the bottom and click OK. This will replace the generic link in the bottom pane. This link identifies the recipient of your original email.

Figure C

Enter the email address under the
Identify who receives the copy of the email.

9. Click Next.

10. In the upper pane, click Cc Message to people or public group to update the rule in the lower pane (Figure D).

Figure D

Select actions for the message under Rules Wizard.
Specify who will receive the copy of the email message.

11. Click the People or Public Group link in the bottom pane and repeat the instructions from step 8 to add email addresses to the rule. I will use my own email address again, and you should too. These people will receive a copy of the message.

12. Click OK, Finish, and then OK.

It seems like a lot of steps, but they are all easy. It is not a complex rule. Before testing the rule, let’s look at some example choices:

  • In step 3, you can choose Create rule if the selected email is from the person you specified in step 8 — the recipient(s) of the original email.
  • In steps 7 and 8, I selected my email address for demonstration purposes only. You can choose more than one person or group or individuals and group, and so on.
  • The people or group chosen in step 8 can be confusing. You reduce things. You can choose the Every email I send option, but I don’t recommend doing this without a good reason. This choice represents who receives the original email.
  • In step 11, identify all people or groups who will receive a copy of the email. This is the step you save yourself – remember to enter these addresses in the original email.
  • In step 12, you can click Next and add exceptions to the rule. We did not do it.

With the rule in place, it’s time to test it.

How to test rule in Outlook

Since you used your own email address as the recipient of the original message for demonstration purposes, you’ll identify yourself in the test email you send now:

1. Click New Message in the New group.

2. In the resulting message window, enter your email address in the To be checked field (Figure E). You don’t have to enter anything else, but you can if you want. This address corresponds to the one chosen in step 8.

Figure E

The Microsoft Outlook Send and Receive tab.
Enter the original recipient.

3. Click Submit and confirm if you did not enter any subject text.

4. If you control when Outlook sends emails, be sure to send the emails manually using the Send & Receive tab. You may need to do this twice to send and receive the test message and the copy.

You should have two copies of the email, the original and the copy. If not, and you’re using Gmail or another free mail server, try again with another address, such as a friend or co-workers after asking permission to do so.


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