Create Email Rules for Your Mobile Device


Benefit of Email Rules

Email rules are essential for efficiently managing larger volumes of incoming email. They automatically sort your mail based on criteria you define. This can help organize, file, and process communications using the same decision process you would, but it’s done automatically by the computer. For example, emails from certain people, or with certain words in the subject, can be automatically moved into folders. Newsletters from organizations or store emails can get filed for later reading.

Problem with Mobile Devices

Most mobile devices, including the popular Apple iOS devices, don’t have a mechanism for creating and processing email rules. So, when you work on emails at your desktop computer,  you’ll have messages automatically filed for you, but when you’re on your mobile device, you’ll need to wade through hundreds or thousands of new emails to find the essential ones.


For most people, their desktop computer (or Laptop) is turned off or falls asleep when not in use. They probably don’t use an email client such as Apple Mail or Outlook to work on emails. They probably just use a web client by going to Yahoo, MSN, or Gmail online. If they do use a desktop mail client, they probably don’t use email rules.

IMAP Synchronization Essential

Email rules only work on your local device for accounts configured as POP instead of IMAP. Some email systems, like MSN / Hotmail don’t allow for IMAP (synchronized real-time mail management) on desktop systems. Oddly, IMAP with MSN/Hotmail does work on mobile devices, just not on desktop devices. So, on your desktop/laptop computer, when you download emails, read them, flag them, or move them around, this is all just happening on your local computer, but nowhere else. With services like Gmail (configured with IMAP), whatever you do with your messages on any device will be replicated across all devices. Having an IMAP or similar synchronized system is essential for email rules to work. It’s also important to have synchronization even if you don’t use email rules, so at least when you delete messages, file them, or mark them as read, this is being pushed out to all your devices.


As mentioned above, mobile devices typically don’t utilize email rules. The solution to this problem is to leave a computer running with an email client configured to manage emails. Then, your mobile device will magically have emails sorted for you into tidy folders.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You may need to adjust the timing for when your desktop/laptop computer processes mail. More frequently will ensure that your mobile view of emails will be processed already.
  • Some email services allow for server-side email rules that filter incoming messages. If you have this option, it’s even better than using a mail client on your desktop/laptop because it should happen in real-time.
  • Remember that you may need to view an email folder on your mobile device to see the refreshed/current content — even if you have your mail set to push or to check emails automatically.
  • For this to work, you must store emails in folders on the server. If the messages are being stored (moved to) local folders on your desktop/laptop computer, then they won’t be visible anywhere except on that device. However, if your email rule moves messages to folders on the server (email service) then those messages will be viewable by all your devices.