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How Clutter helps clean up your Inbox in MS Office 365

blog
2nd Jul 2015

Microsoft have added a new feature for users of Office 365 – Clutter. This feature has been enabled across all Office 365 subscriptions from 30th June. It’s a simple idea – Clutter helps filter low priority email. By tracking how you use email it learns what messages are not important to you and moves those items into a folder called Clutter. So these are items typically you would read when you have a spare moment like ( press releases, items you have subscribed too etc..) leaving the important messages in your inbox.

It doesn’t always get it right however, but you can move those messages incorrectly identified and place them back in your Inbox. Clutter will take notice.
 
By constantly monitoring incoming email and observing what happens to those messages, it refines its processing with the aim of helping making better decisions that match the way we manage our inboxes.
 
Getting started with Clutter
 
By default, Clutter is enabled for your Office 365 inbox however, don’t panic if you find clutter isn’t for you it can be turned off at any time but remember if turned off existing items in the clutter folder will remain there. It can be controlled from the Outlook Web App (OWA) options menu.
 
Once clutter has been enabled in Office 365, it becomes available in Outlook 2013 Desktop and is automatically added to your mailboxes favourites folders list so that Outlook highlights it alongside the Inbox, Sent items and other folders you have identified as favourites.
 
clutter 1
 
Like all automatic processing there are some things that you do need to be aware of.
 
1. The value of this is higher to those individuals who receive volume email (circa 200 – 300) a day. If you only receive a small amount of mail i.e. 20-30 a day you won’t get much value from this.
2. Clutter will only move messages to the Clutter folder. It is not intended to be a long term storage location as the items sent here are the ones you would typically ignore. If you like your current inbox arrangement of folders rules are the best solution. Speaking of rules…
 

I have email rules in place how does Clutter work with them?
 
Clutter does respect any email rules that you currently have in place to help organize your email for example, rules that direct messages sent to a particular distribution group to a specific folder will contain to work and indeed should be retained. Clutter won’t act upon those messages. Think of Clutter as a big clear out rule that cleans up after your regular rules are finished doing the job they perform. A downside if you do opt to use Clutter instead of rules is that messages will show up on Outlooks “unread mail” complete with graphics and links. When messages are moved to the junk folder using a rule outlook strips out all links and graphics. It’s a small risk but definitely one to consider if you are cautious.
 
Is there any way I can assist Clutter to identify messages?
 
The training phase never stops but Clutter needs some time analyzing how you interact with mail contents so that it can apply what it learned to improve your workflow. You can mark email that should end up in this folder, or similiarly mark items that end up in Clutter and shouldn’t be. Marking an item as “not Clutter” moves it back to the Inbox. OWA is the only client to support these options but you can “train” Clutter with any client by moving items into the Clutter folder if you’d like this action to happen automatically in the future. Moving an item out of Clutter into the Inbox has the opposite effect.
 
clutter 2 new
 
So Does Clutter Work?
 
Microsoft research suggests that average email users who worked with Clutter managed to save 82 minutes each month working with email while about 10% of users saved 168 minutes instead. In conjunction with rules we have found it certainly helps.
 
A note of caution for organisations of any size. With this feature enabled from our experience it’s important that the introduction of this feature is highlighted to users to avoid any “lost important emails” situation.
 
Appetite are a flexible, knowledgeable accredited Learning Provider. If we can help you, contact us at hello@appetiteforbusiness.com if we can help you with SharePoint/Office 365 in your organization.

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