I use outlook as client for an exchange server.

I created several rules that are local to the mac (as opposed to server side rules), and I want to apply them for past messages.

I can't find a way. - Even when I create the rule, I don't see any option to apply it to past messages.

It would be fine also to be able to move several selected messages to a folder, but when I create a filter it seems also difficult!!! If I select all messages in the filter, upon right click on one of them, the selection goes away (because of the message preview I think)

If I select multiple messages in Inbox, right click is working and I could move all of them, but I must perform multiple selection manually...

Is it that difficult on Outlook 2011 overs 14.3 ?

  • Welcome to Ask Different. Perhaps your specific version of outlook doesn't have that option? Or is might be as a simple as making the rule on your computer instead of on the server which only applies rules when messages arrive? support.office.com/en-us/article/…
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 11:56
  • Outlook 2011 vs 14.3. If it's a version related issue, I'll update it...but I couldn't find any confirmation of that
    – Glasnhost
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 13:53
  • I'm creating the rule on local machine
    – Glasnhost
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 13:54
  • @bmike thanks to your remark I've checked and I found some other rules on the server, now Apply Rule work on local folder also for past emails. I was probably applying the wrong one, now it seems clear
    – Glasnhost
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 9:33

5 Answers 5


I just figured this out because I was having such a hard time too! Its easier than you think. Go to your inbox, click on one of your emails then under the Edit menu click Select All. Then in the home group click on apply rule. Yay! (it will take a while if you have a ton of emails -I had over 11,000 so it took a couple mins).

  • 14
    Hello, this is the future. With Outlook for Mac version 15.38, there's no "Apply Rule" in the Home group that applies to selected messages. I had to manually filter and move emails.
    – pyb
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 18:50
  • @pyb yep im having the same issue
    – user166989
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 17:48
  • 7
    AFAIK currently you can only apply local (client) rules to current inbox mail
    – arod
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 23:51

Here are the instructions for Outlook for Mac 2011 and 2016.

Basically you have to select the folder or messages you want to apply rules to, then on the Message menu, point to Rules, point to Apply, and then click a rule or click Apply All. You can also right-click or use the toolbar to get to the Rules menu.

The problem I was having is this only works for client-side rules. From my link: "Manually applying rules works only for On My Computer rules. You cannot use Outlook for Mac to manually apply server-based rules." So if you have a server-side rule (which is the default and is probably what you want), you'll have to duplicate it as a client-side rule to get it applied to existing messages.

  • 8
    Is there some way to automatically 'duplicate a rule from client<->server'?
    – arod
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 23:58
  • 3
    It's true that only the client side rules work. I had to create them as client side rules too.
    – r1k0
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 8:54
  • 1
    I could not find a way to clone a rule from the server rules section to local (exchange), however, I did as instructed, and upon selecting all mails and applying the rule, it worked.
    – dresh
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 6:52

Using Outlook for Mac's "New Outlook" mode, you can run rules on existing messages. Just go to the Tools...Rules menu, and then click on the "play" button next to the rule you want to run. Here's a picture:

enter image description here

Note that it will take a looooong time to run if you have a lot of messages in your mailbox.

  • And pressing that button will apply the rule to which emails? The ones highlighted? Or the ones in the inbox? Or all?
    – Christoph
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:52
  • @Christoph - it's been a year so I don't remember exactly, but it should be easy enough to try it and see which behavior is what it does. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 18:11

For those of you who found this page and are using web based Outlook in 2023, here's how to do it:

Its under Sweep. Click the message and then click the Sweep menu option at the top and there are different options for deleting all messages from the same sender.

If you want to apply a more complicated rule than just who it was sent from to existing messages, I'm not sure how to do that.


I just found the below on the Stanford University website (dated February 26, 2024)

How to Run Filter Rules Against Existing Email in Microsoft 365:

Outlook on the web

  • Not available

Outlook for Windows

  • Click the File tab and then double-click the Manage Rules and Alerts button.
  • Click Run Rules Now and select which rules to run.
  • Click Run Now.

Outlook for Mac

  • Click the Home tab to display the ribbon.
  • Click Rules > Apply > Apply All.
  • 2
    A link to the actual web page would be useful not just to confirm your "answer" but to provide additional information and context. Please use the edit feature below your post to make additions/changes.
    – agarza
    Commented May 1 at 13:51
  • Please add link. Commented May 1 at 14:21

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