How Conditional Formatting Highlight Emails in Outlook?[Based on Specific Requirement]

Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Amit Bansal

Working on huge data required some basic tools to filter or classify data in the group, and the result must be fruitful.

Microsoft Outlook conditional formatting is one of the intelligent tools which identifies your requirement and handles the email message accordingly.

Conditional formatting in Outlook allows you to highlight certain emails—called conditional formatting—in your inboxes.

This allows you to alert yourself of important emails, review them at a later time, or set certain criteria to trigger formatting.

For example, you can set your formatting to highlight emails that come from specific people or departments or highlight emails with certain words in the subject.

In this article, you will learn auto highlight emails in outlook based on the specific requirement.

What is Conditional Formatting in Outlook?

Conditional Formatting is a feature in Microsoft Outlook that allows users to apply formatting rules to their emails.

These rules can be based on a wide variety of criteria, including the sender’s name or email address, the subject line of the email, and the content of the email itself.

With Conditional Formatting, users can customize the appearance of their inbox to make it easier to identify important messages at a glance.

For example, they can apply a bold font or a specific color to emails from their boss or colleagues, or highlight emails that contain certain keywords.

Conditional Formatting is a powerful tool that can help users stay organized and productive.

By applying formatting rules to their emails, they can quickly identify and prioritize important messages, and avoid getting bogged down by less important ones.

To use Conditional Formatting in Outlook, users can create a new formatting rule by going to the “View” tab and clicking on “View Settings”.

From there, they can click on “Conditional Formatting” and then “Add” to create a new rule.

They can then specify the criteria for the rule, such as the sender’s name or email address, and choose the formatting options they want to apply.

Overall, Conditional Formatting is a valuable feature in Outlook that can help users stay on top of their email and manage their inboxes more efficiently.

By taking advantage of this feature, users can customize their inbox to suit their needs and work more effectively.

What is the primary benefit of conditional formatting in Outlook?

Conditional formatting is an internal algorithm based on certain rules, which helps the user to get better results.

You can also apply rules resulting based on their properties (like the sender, subject line, or timestamp).

The Conditional Formatting feature manages all your Emails, Calendar items, Contacts, and Tasks and arranges them according to color coding without the need to apply a Color Category to them or move them to different folders.

How To Automatically Highlight Emails in Outlook? [based on period]

In case you want to highlight emails based on a specific date range, conditional formatting comes into play, here you can follow the step-by-step process to understand the key formula to highlight email messages according to their age.

  • Shoot Outlook and switch to the “View” tab
  • Click Change view >> “Manage views”
Manage view outlook
  • Manage all view dialog box pops up >> Click New button >> this will take you to Create a New View dialog box.
How To Automatically Highlight Emails in Outlook
  • Name your new view text box in the Create a New View dialog box, >> Select All Mail and Post folders (IMAP) and hit OK.
  • Advanced View Settings dialog box appears with that same name, Now press the conditional formatting button to create the conditional format.
Conditional formatting outlook
  • A conditional formatting dialog box appears, there are few by default rules available, in the current scenario, Hit outlook conditional formattingAdd.
  • Name your Rule – “Mail Smartly“, click the font button, and a font dialog box is displayed, you can adjust (fonts, font style, size, effects, color, script) according to your choice, and your selection adjustments will separate email messages.
how to color code emails in outlook

Outlook Conditional Formatting Advanced Filter

There are multiple options in the filter dialog box [messages, more choices, and advance]. In this case, follow these steps:

  • Hit Advanced tab >> Click Field button >> Select Frequently Used fields from the drop-down list.
Frequently used fields
  • Under the ‘Frequently used field‘, you can find multiple options every option opens a gate of strategy, in our case, you must select ‘received’.
strikethrough in outlook
  • The next step is to select the condition, you again have multiple options of time criteria under the condition drop-down list.

The choices are much greater than you might expect:

  1. Anytime
  2. Yesterday
  3. Today
  4. Tomorrow
  5. In the last 7 days
  6. In the next 7 days
  7. Last Week
  8. This Week
  9. Next Week
  10. Last Month
  11. This Month
  12. Next Month
  13. On
  14. On or before
  15. Between
  16. Exists
  17. On or after
  18. Does not exist
  • Select ‘between’ and type manually in the value section “4 months ago and 6 months ago“.

[Note: You can select a condition and enter the value comment manually according to your search criteria.]

Auto highlight emails based on age in Outlook
  • Finally, click the Add to List button. Your criteria were added to the above list. Click OK.

Everything is set, follow the step to look at your result:

  • Click View Tab >> Change View >> You can find another view option that you have created earlier in the article >> Click on that.
outlook conditional formatting not working
  • You can check by scrolling down the change of color of your email message based on their age [which you have specified in the filter option above]. The result is impressive. Now the outcome varies, the emails that enter that barrier automatically change the color, and the email step out of that barrier changes itself to the original view.
how to strikethrough in outlook

How To Change Color of Receiving Email in Outlook? [From Specific Email Address/Person]

Searching Emails received from a specific email address or person in Outlook is not rocket science, the search bar can handle it. All you must know is the exact method to find the emails.

Outlook conditional formatting based on email domain not only grabs those emails but also changes the format or color as per your choice.

How to Create a Conditional formatting rule?

Walk me through the step-by-step tutorial:

  • Lunch Outlook >> Click View Tab >> View Setting.
Create a Conditional formatting rule
  • Click Conditional formatting for imposing specific conditions (changing the color of an email received from certain email addresses or persons) and format the inbox.
  • Click Add and enter the name of your formatting rule. Name your rule & Hit font, and change the font, style, effects, and color according to your choice.
Conditional Formatting button Outlook
  • Click Condition, and Type the address or part of the address in the From field on the Messages tab. For instance: we are required to highlight all messages from
Conditional formatting rule Outlook
  • Hit Ok and close the dialog box, and the expected results are incredible, colored email messages from the desired server name in your inbox are clearly visible. [Refer: Snapshot]
create a conditional formatting rule in outlook

How to Delete Conditional Formatting Rule?

If you no longer required a specific conditional formatting rule function, you could easily delete the rule, and everything works as normal. In the Conditional Formatting window, select the rule you want to delete and click the Delete button. [refer: image]

How to Delete Conditional Formatting Rule

Outlook Conditional Formatting Not Working

Most of the users complained, that after setting up, “conditional formatting outlook not working“. Conditional formatting is an internal algorithm based on certain rules, there are numerous conditional outcomes you can enjoy.

Sometimes due to technical glitches or some minor mistakes, you will get this issue, for instance, you like to highlight and color emails received from your boss, and while entering the email address of your boss, you made a minor spelling mistake.

Outlook still waiting for that email address, but the problem is the email address is wrong.

Similarly, I personally use conditional formatting to color those emails received huge in size, Once I realized that neither an email having a huge size is highlighted, after scrutiny, I found that I have entered the size in Megabytes instead of Kilobyte.

These are some minor human errors that cause trouble in working conditional formatting. It is recommended to cross-check twice before setting up the conditional formatting.

Why is My Outlook Conditional Formatting Not Working?

When we set up conditional formatting in Outlook, we expect it to work flawlessly. However, sometimes, we may encounter issues where the formatting does not work as intended.

In this section, we will explore some common reasons why Outlook conditional formatting may not be working as expected.

View Settings

One of the reasons why conditional formatting may not be working is due to incorrect view settings. We need to ensure that we are applying the formatting to the correct view.

Sometimes, we may have multiple views set up, and we may be applying the formatting to the wrong view.

To check the view settings, we can go to the View tab and click on View Settings. From there, we can verify that we are applying the formatting to the correct view.


Another reason why conditional formatting may not be working is due to incorrect criteria. We need to ensure that we are using the correct criteria to apply the formatting.

For example, if we want to apply formatting to emails from a specific sender, we need to ensure that we have set up the criteria correctly.

To check the criteria, we can go to the Conditional Formatting option under View Settings and verify that we have set up the criteria correctly.


Color is another factor that may affect conditional formatting in Outlook. Sometimes, the color we have chosen may not be visible due to the theme we are using in Outlook.

To check the color, we can go to the Conditional Formatting option under View Settings and verify that the color we have chosen is visible in the current theme.

In conclusion, when we encounter issues with conditional formatting in Outlook, we need to check the view settings, criteria, and color to ensure that they are set up correctly.

By following these steps, we can ensure that our conditional formatting works as intended.

How to Troubleshoot Outlook Conditional Formatting Issues?

If you are experiencing issues with Outlook’s conditional formatting, there are several steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem.

In this section, we will outline some of the most common solutions to help you get your conditional formatting back up and running.

Check Email View Settings

The first step in troubleshooting conditional formatting issues is to check your email view settings.

In Outlook, you can customize the way your emails are displayed by changing the view settings.

If your conditional formatting rules are not working, it may be because your view settings are not set up correctly.

To check your view settings, go to the View tab in Outlook and select View Settings. From there, you can review your current view settings and make any necessary changes.

You may also want to try resetting your view settings to their default values to see if that resolves the issue.

Verify Criteria for Conditional Formatting

Another common cause of conditional formatting issues is incorrect criteria settings.

When you set up a conditional formatting rule, you need to specify the criteria that will trigger the formatting.

If your criteria settings are incorrect, the rule may not work as intended.

To verify your criteria settings, go to the Conditional Formatting menu in Outlook and select Manage Rules & Alerts.

From there, you can review your existing rules and make any necessary changes to the criteria settings.

Check Font and Color Settings

Finally, if your conditional formatting rules are not working, it may be because of font and color settings.

When you set up a rule, you can specify the font and color that should be used for the formatted text.

If your font or color settings are incorrect, the rule may not work as intended.

To check your font and color settings, go to the Conditional Formatting menu in Outlook and select Font.

From there, you can review your existing rules and make any necessary changes to the font and color settings.

By following these steps, you should be able to troubleshoot the most common issues with Outlook’s conditional formatting.

If you continue to experience problems, you may want to consider reaching out to Microsoft support for further assistance.

Wrap up with Quick Tutorial: How to Highlight Important Emails in Outlook?

Important Emails in Outlook are emails consisting of the Exclamation mark, these emails are marked important by your sender in your inbox.

Highlighting those emails, once they landed in your inbox, It’s a great way to keep track of important email correspondence, especially if you get a lot.

  • Click View Tab >> View Setting.
  • Advance View setting dialog box appears, Click Conditional formatting from the options.
  • Click Add and enter the name of your formatting rule, hit font, and change the font, style, effects, and color according to your choice. For better Highlights change the color to Red.
  • Click Condition >> Advance >> Click the dropdown list (Field) under Define more criteria.

Select the Frequently used field >> Important

  • Click the Condition (or Condition) box and select the equals from the drop-down list.
  • Click the Value box and make it High from the drop-down list.
  • Finally, Click adds to the list.

Your condition is added to the list, Click OK until all boxes are closed. All your important emails are changed and highlighted, and you can easily visualize and separate the emails, and the future when you receive an email that is marked as important and has an exclamation mark.

That way Outlook Color Code Emails have Exclamation Marks.

Final Words

In conclusion, Conditional formatting helps you to highlight important emails in your Outlook inbox. With the proper formatting, you can prioritize emails more quickly.

And conditional formatting also helps to ensure that you receive important emails.

Conditional Formatting in Microsoft Outlook is another excellent feature like “Rule”, which delivers more than expected to their user.

I always recommend trying this feature and enjoying the full strength of Microsoft Office Outlook 365.

There are tons of conditional formatting rules in Outlook that really work for you.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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