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Color Code Your Incoming Email

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help

If you are using a mail client like Outlook Express then you know that Message Rules are probably the most versatile and helpful feature. We’ve told you how to use them for blocking unwanted email, whitelisting, automatic forwarding, and sorting into folders. This new trick is great for helping you easily identify the good stuff when wading through a mountain of email.

How would you like to just look at your inbox and be able to recognize email from business contacts, friends, or family just by the color? This really comes in handy for me—since I get over 500 emails a day from readers, I set mine up so that email from my co-workers is in another color. You could set it up so that business contacts are green, family comes in blue, your spouse comes in red, etc. Enough talk, let’s get into it…

Outlook Express

Follow the usual procedure for Message Rules: Go to Tools / Message Rules / Mail, then click “New”.

Now comes the fun part: for this example, I will select the condition “Where the From line contains people”, but you could use any of the options. For the action, select “Highlight with color”.


Under “Rule Description”, click on “contains people”. You can type in addresses or domains then click “Add”, or click on the Address Book and select names from there. When finished click OK.

Next we want to choose a color. Click on “color” and a little box will appear. Click the arrow and a palette will appear, from there just choose a color.


Now give the Message Rule a name.


Go to Tools/Options then click “Display” in the side column. Look down where it says “Labels”.

There are five colors listed with default labels: Important, Work, Personal, etc. You can change these by typing in the box.


After you finish, click OK. Now, let’s put these labels to work by using Message Filters…

Go to Tools / Message Filters and select the email address you want to apply the filter to and click “New”. Give the filter a name.

Select the radio button marked “Match any of the following”. Where it says “Subject”, click the arrow to reveal the drop down menu options and choose “Sender” (you can, of worse, choose another option). If you want the filter applied to a whole domain (like “”), then leave the next button as contains. If you are filtering addresses, you can change it to “is”. Enter the email address or domain in the box. To add additional names, just click “More”.


Change the action to “Label the Message” by checking the box, then select the label from the next box. Click OK when done. Follow this procedure some more to create other contact label lists.

Now, when you check your Inbox, messages from various senders will be in different colors, making it easier to notice them. You can even create one just for “” making it easier to find our newsletters.

Another thing you can do with Firefox is label a message that you already received. Just right-click, choose “Label” then select the appropriate one from the drop down list.


I hope you find this one as useful as I do.

~ David

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