Welcome to the Office Mac Help Site About | Blog | Links | Glossary | Feedback | Downloads | Help

Why Rules Don't Work

If you are new to rules, add one rule at at time. This way you can check for problems easily.

Common problems....

  • A prior rule is acting on the message and no additional rules are able to act on that message. You can drag rules to a higher position, but MLM and JMF will always run before rules if either one is enabled.

  • Actions which Move messages or run AppleScripts cannot be followed by other rules. Starting with Entourage 2004 this no longer applies.

  • If mail category is getting reset, check rules above. The "default" action for every new rule is "Set category to None". If you don't switch that popup but just add other actions, it's going to turn "category" status off.

  • 'Mailing List Manager' entries work differently to Rules, and are designed specially for Mailing Lists. Specifically, they don't check who a message is 'from' (since mailing lists can have thousands of contributors), but who a message is 'to' - messages that were sent 'to' the mailing list address, will be handled by the MLM entry. If you try and set one up to handle junk mail, it will use your address (taken from the 'to' field) and handle all mail addressed to you!
    • It's very easy to set up a MLM rule by accident, when you are marking a message as 'not junk'. This can result in all your mail going to the wrong folder.
  • Check your Criteria. You might want to select "if all criteria are met." Using "any criteria" makes the rule more general and can catch additional mail outside the parameters you want.

  • Sometimes rules can become corrupt. These are sometimes the hardest to find. When you do identify the corrupt rule(s), delete the rule and make a new one.

Troubleshoot Rules:

Identify problem rule:

Disable all rules as a test. Enable one rule at a time to find the problem.

You can also move the Rules file to the desktop. Quit and relaunch Entourage and a new blank Rules file will be created. This allows you to start with a blank slate.

If you are new to rules and would like a safe testing environment, I suggest duplicating your Identity in the Finder. Set the Accounts to "Leave on server" under the Options tab in the account window. This will allow you to play around without actually changing anything in your Main Identity (named Main by default). If you like your new Rules, you can replace the Rules file in your Main Identity with the new one you created. The folders should be OK, but I would double check to be sure.

To help you get started see this Get Started Lesson: Learn to Setup Rules

Once rules are run on a message, you cannot run rules on message again. However you can drag the message to the desktop and then back into a local folder. This will cause you to have a duplicate message but this new message will not have had rules run on it. When you now Apply all rules, the MLM should fire and you can help determine which rule is causing the problem.

Search on "Troubleshoot Rules" in Entourage Help for detailed troubleshooting.