Microsoft introduced the Clutter feature at the end of 2014 as a way to help users focus on their most important messages in their inbox. It uses machine learning to identify lower priority messages and move them out of the inbox into a new Clutter folder. Clutter analyses users’ email habits and past behaviour to determine the messages the user is most likely to ignore and moves them into the Clutter folder. Users can review these messages later when they have time.

If you find an email in the Clutter folder that is important, you can move it to your inbox and Clutter will remember this for next time. You can also select an email from inbox that isn’t important and move it to your Clutter folder; this will enable Clutter to learn your habits quicker. It is recommended that users still check their Clutter folder on a regular basis in case an important email has ended up there and requires immediate action.

How to turn Clutter on

Users need to sign in to Outlook on the web to enable it to work in both Outlook on the web and the Outlook desktop application.

  • Sign in to Outlook on the web
  • Choose the Outlook app launcher
  • Using the navigation bar select Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic Processing > Clutter
  • Select the option ‘Separate items identified as Clutter’ and hit Save

Key Points about Clutter

Clutter can be turned off at any time by selecting ‘Don’t separate items identified as Clutter’.

Clutter will never move message from certain people out of your inbox such as:

  • You
  • Anyone in your management chain, if you’re an Office 365 Business user
  • Your direct reports, if you’re an Office 365 Business user

Clutter will look at various aspects of messages to determine where it should go such as:

  • Who the sender is
  • If you’ve participated in the conversation
  • If you’re the only recipient
  • The importance of the message

The tool gets smarter over time, so it is important to remember to be patient while it is learning your habits and behaviours.

Hayden McMaster