Microsoft Moves to Declutter Outlook Inboxes

Clutter, Microsoft's inbox-sanitizing technology for Outlook, will be enabled by default next month.


Microsoft wants to make sifting through time-wasting emails a thing of the past.

Clutter, an Office 365 technology that organizes Outlook inboxes to surface important and task-related emails, will be switched on by default in June, the company announced. Office 365 tenants enrolled in the First Release program will be switched over on June 1; all others are being transitioned on June 15.

Available on the Outlook PC and mobile clients, as well as the Outlook Web App, Clutter monitors a user's email interactions and applies machine learning techniques to prioritize important emails.

The feature moves less important emails to the Clutter folder, where users can later review them. Users can also hone the feature's clutter-detecting capabilities by flagging messages that bear similarities to low-priority emails. Clutter respects existing email rules, allowing users to keep their customizations.

Soon, practically all users will enjoy decluttered inboxes, provided that they have their administrator's blessing.

"Additional controls are being added to help administrators manage Clutter," wrote Brian Shiers, a senior Microsoft product marketing manager, and Kumar Venkateswar, a senior Exchange program manager, in a May 18 company blog post. "First we are introducing two PowerShell cmdlets to report on and turn off Clutter for users."

The cmdlets should be used to turn off Clutter before Microsoft enables the functionality in June for organizations that wish to manage the rollout themselves or avoid it entirely. Also coming next month are more personalization controls. "Administrators can now configure a reply-to address for Clutter notifications, this is in addition to the existing options to change the sender display name and brand the message with a logo of your choice," stated Shiers and Venkateswar.

In addition, Clutter's user notifications are being overhauled. Instead of the current inbox notification scheme, Clutter will soon issue alerts and activity summaries.

"The alerts are sent when new types of emails are moved to Clutter for the first time, you will receive a maximum of one alert per day," said the managers. "The summary notification is sent once per week making it easy to know what Clutter is doing for you."

Microsoft also announced new Outlook Web App integrations aimed at helping users better manage their attachments via OneDrive for Business, the company's enterprise-grade cloud file storage, sync and sharing offering.

Outlook Web App now allows users to save email attachments directly to their OneDrive for Business folder. "This allows you to access these files from wherever you are and more importantly, gives you the ability to collaborate on these files in Office or Office Online without having to manage and keep track of multiple versions," said Rebecca Lawler and James Peters, both Outlook Web App program managers, in a statement.

Microsoft is also looking to spare email servers the burden of large email attachments.

New Outlook Web App features automatically alert users when a file attachment exceeds their organizations' file size limits and grays out the "Send as attachment" option. Separately, when the app encounters a large file, it suggests to users that they share it as a OneDrive link. Microsoft is also increasing the Outlook Web App to OneDrive for Business file upload limit from 200MB to 2GB over the next four to eight weeks.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...