How to Fix It When Outlook Rules Are Not Working?

Outlook rules make email management easy by allowing you to sort, mark, and filter incoming emails. At times, you find that Outlook rules are not working when new messages arrive in your inbox. This may happen due to various reasons such as rules exceed the quote set for the mailbox, corruption in PST file, etc.

If you are facing the problem of Outlook rules not working properly, you need to first check the following:

1. Rules are Enabled

Ensure that rules are enabled. For this, follow these steps:

  • Open Outlook and go to Files > Rules and Alerts.
  • In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, check that the “enabled” checkboxes against the concerned rules are selected. If not, select them.

rules and alerts window

2. Rules Don’t Refer to a Deleted Folder or File

If certain rules refer to a mailbox folder or a file that’s deleted, you may face the problem of Outlook 2013 rules not working properly. You can check the dependencies of a rule by double-clicking it in the Rules and Alerts dialog box. If there are references to a deleted folder/file, you can replace the folder/file with an existing one.

How to Fix ‘Outlook Rules are Not Working’ Issue?

If the rules are enabled and they don’t refer to a deleted folder, this indicates corruption in rules or in send/receive settings file. In such cases, you can try the given solutions to resolve Outlook rules are not working issue.

Solution #1: Reset the SRS File

If the send/receive settings file (SRS file) is damaged in Outlook, it may cause the problem of Outlook rules not working. You can reset the SRS file to make the rules work properly. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Go to the following location: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
  • Rename the Outlook.srs file to Outlook.srs.old

srs location on system

  • Restart Outlook. This will recreate the SRS file.

NOTE: If the PST is damaged/corrupt, your rules or even Outlook won’t work. In such a case, you need to repair the damaged PST and  recreate the rules. You can repair and recover PST items such as emails, calendar, contacts, etc. by using an advanced Outlook repair tool    such as Stellar Repair for Outlook. This utility is a safe and easy way to recover data from a corrupted/damaged PST. It’s compatible with    Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013 & earlier versions.

Solution #2: Reduce the Space Used by Inbox Rules

The default size quota for Outlook Inbox rules in Exchange 2010 and 2007 is 64 KB, and in Exchange 2003 it’s 32 KB. If the created rules exceed this size quota, you can’t create new rules or the existing rules may also not work properly. However, you can increase the size of this quota manually (maximum limit is 256 KB).

Note: You can’t increase the rules size limit in Exchange Server 2003.

You can use PowerShell cmdlets to increase the size quota of Outlook rules by using this syntax:

Set-Mailbox -Identity (MailboxIdentity) -RulesQuota "(NewQuotaSize)"

In this, (MailboxIdentity) is the identity of the desired mailbox (, and (NewQuotaSize) is the new (increased) quota size that can range from 32 KB to 256 KB.

What if the quota limit is already the highest?

If the quota limit is already 256 KB, then you can reduce the space taken by the rules. The amount of space used by Outlook rules depends on factors such as the number of conditions created in a rule, length of the rules name, etc. You can reduce the space taken up by the rules by:

  • Deleting old rules that are no longer needed.
  • Renaming rules, having long and complicated names, with shorter names.
  • Merging similar rules.

Solution #3: Convert Client-Based Rules into Server-Based Rules

Outlook rules can be divided into two categories - client-based and server-based. Client-based rules only work when Outlook email client is running. If you have created a client-based rule with the Rules Wizard, it’s indicated by this message:

client-based rule message

If a rule is not working in Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, or other version, it’s possible that the rule is client-based and Outlook is not running when emails are received. If you want the rules to work even when the Outlook isn’t running, log in to your account via web-based access, i.e. OWA, and recreate the rules there.

Note: If you have both server-based rules and client-based rules, then the server-based rules will be applied first, followed by client-based rules.

Solution #4: Delete and Recreate the Rules

If the above solutions fail, or the rules are corrupted/damaged, then you can delete the rules and then recreate them. For this, follow these steps:

  • Close Outlook and go to the Start Menu.
  • Enter exe/cleanrules in the search field and wait for the system to perform the search.

finding cleanrules

  • Once your system has found the exe/cleanrules command-line switch, press the Enter key. This will delete all rules from Outlook.

outlook-cleanr ules.png

  • Now, recreate the rules in Outlook by using the Rules Wizard.

If you can’t find outlook.exe/cleanrules, you can follow these steps to delete the rules:

  • Press Windows+R
  • Enter the following in the input field: ”. In this, the part before “/” is the path to the outlook.exe file which should be like: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\outlook.exe.
  • Click OK.

If some of the rules are not working, then you can delete only those rules, instead of all the rules. For this, follow these steps:

  • Open Outlook and click File.
  • Click Manage Rules & Alerts to open the Rules and Alerts dialog box.
  • Select the rules you want to delete and click Delete.

deleting Outlook rules


Many Outlook users face problems such as Outlook rules not working after migration to Office 365, Outlook rules not working Windows 10, etc. You can try the solutions mentioned in this post to fix the Outlook rules are not working issue. However, if the rules are corrupted due to bad sectors on the hard drive, malware infection, etc. the only option is to delete the rules and recreate them from.

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Abhinav Sethi linkdin Icon

Senior Writer at Stellar with 7 Years of Experience

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