Outlook: forward e-mails automatically

In Microsoft Outlook you can automatically forward incoming e-mails to your other e-mail accounts. Alternatively, you have the option of redirecting your e-mails. It is easy to configure both functions directly via the inbox rules in the account settings. We’ll show you how to do this with an illustrated step-by-step guide – both for your Outlook desktop app, and for the online service Outlook on the web.

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Microsoft Outlook differentiates between e-mail forwarding and e-mail redirection. When forwarding messages, forwarding is shown to the sender of the message. If you want to reply to a forwarded message, Outlook automatically selects the account that forwarded the e-mail, but not the actual sender of the e-mail. In the case of a redirection, however, the recipient of the message will not see that the e-mail was redirected. Redirected e-mails seem like they’re coming from the original sender. If you want to reply to a redirected e-mail, the reply is sent directly to the sender of the message, but not to the e-mail account that initiated the redirection.

Reasons to forward incoming e-mails in Outlook are plenty:

  • Most people have several e-mail accounts with different providers. With automatic inbox rules, you can collect e-mails into one mailbox for a better overview.
  • In day-to-day work, incoming messages from customers or clients are often relevant not only for the owner of an e-mail account, but also for colleagues or superiors. Automatic forwarding ensures that important information is available to all participants without delay.
  • Forwarding by e-mail is also useful in the event of absence. If messages from customers or business partners are received during holiday periods, forwarding them to a holiday replacement is recommended.

How to set up e-mail forwarding in Outlook (2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016)

It is easy to set up e-mail forwarding in Outlook – here’s how using the desktop app. If you are not using a windows operating system, then scroll down to see how to do it for macOS.


User-defined inbox rules are available for Outlook versions 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016, and it is always the same procedure. The examples in this article are from Outlook 2016.

Outlook app for Windows

Step 1: Select the “start” tab in the menu bar and click on the “rules” button.

Step 2: Select the option “manage rules and alerts” from the “rules” menu.

Outlook will open the “rules and alerts” dialog box with the “e-mail rules” and “manage notifications” tabs.

Step 3: Select the “e-mail rules” tab, and click the “new rule” button to open the rule wizard.

Step 4: The rules wizard allows you to access rule templates or create your own. For e-mail forwarding, select the option “apply rule on messages I receive” in “start from a blank rule.”

Step 5: First decide which messages the rule applies to by selecting one or more of the options offered, and replacing the words underlined in blue with individual values. If you do not want to select a condition, skip this point by clicking on “next.” If you do this, the rule will apply to all incoming messages.

If you want to link your inbox rule to a condition, set a check mark in the respective box and click on the blue underlined word to enter the value (for example, a sender).

Step 6: Then select an action to apply to all messages that meet the previously selected condition. For easy forwarding, select the “forward to a person/public group” option. If you want to set up a redirect instead, select “redirect to a person/public group.”

Step 7: Specify a person or group to which incoming messages should be forwarded. Click on the word with a blue background, and select a person or group of recipients from your address book.

Step 8: If necessary, select exceptions for the inbox rule.

Step 9: Name the rule you configured and specify whether the rule is to apply only to new incoming messages or to all e-mails already saved in the inbox. Complete the configuration process by clicking on “finish.”

The newly created rule is displayed in the “rules and alerts” dialog box.

Outlook app for macOS

Step 1: To forward e-mails with Outlook for macOS, first select the “start” tab in the menu bar.

Step 2: Click on the “rules” button and select “edit rules.”

Step 3: Under Mac, create client rules in the categories “exchange“, “IMAP” or “POP” and “outgoing.” Select “exchange,” and click on the button with the plus sign (+) to add a new rule.

The setup for the inbox rules opens.

Step 4: Configure the required inbox rules. Use the following options for a simple forwarding rule:

  • Under “when a new message arrives” select “when all conditions are met” and “all messages”
  • Under “do the following” select “forward to”

Confirm these rules by clicking on “OK.”

A check mark in the box in front of the rule name indicates that the rule is activated. All incoming messages are forwarded to the contacts you have selected.

How to set up e-mail forwarding – Outlook on the web

Outlook on the web (formerly Outlook Web Access, OWA for short) is a Microsoft service that allows you to access your Outlook mailboxes from any web browser. The web app is integrated into the online service Microsoft 365, and offers a similar range of functions as the desktop installation of the e-mail program. You can also set up e-mail forwarding and other inbox rules with Outlook on the web in just a few steps.

Step 1: Log in to Microsoft 365 and open the “e-mail” app.

Step 2: Click the cog icon next to your user name to access the Microsoft 365 settings.

Step 3: Scroll down in the menu to “your app settings” and click on “mail.” A navigation menu structure will appear in the browser. Select the menu item “inbox and sweep rules” under “automatic processing.”

Step 5: Click the plus sign (+) in the inbox rules area to select a new rule.

Step 6: Name the rule.

Step 7: Define a condition for the new inbox rule if required. Select the option “apply to all messages” if you want to apply the rule to all incoming e-mails. If necessary, add further conditions.

Step 8: Select an action to apply to all e-mails that meet the previously defined condition(s). For a forwarding rule, select the “forward message to...” option. Alternatively, the “redirect message to...” option allows you to set up e-mail redirection.

Select the recipient address from your contact list to which your messages are to be forwarded or redirected.

Select another action if required.

Step 9: If you think you’ll need them, add exceptions to your redirection rule.

Step 10: Finish the set up by clicking on “OK” at the top of the page.

E-mails to your Outlook account will now be automatically forwarded to the address you specified.


An alternative to e-mail forwarding via Outlook is the out-of-office note. In this article you can learn how to submit automatic responses to Outlook, and what to consider when writing an out-of-office note.

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