Outlook Rules Utility

Way back in 2013, I was getting annoyed with the rules manager in Outlook.  See, I have many rules.  I have one folder for every person in my inbox.  The rules move their messages to their respective folders.  So at work, I have 67 rules.  At home, I have 267 rules.  I like to keep my rules sorted, so I can find one quickly if I need to.  So if I add a rule for Zillow.com, I have to click the “move down” arrow hundreds of times to get to the bottom of the list.  There has to be a better way.

I focused on the rules export, which creates a binary file of all your rules.  I just had to reverse-engineer the file structure and I could create an app to modify the order of the rules.  Over a span of time, I figured out what I needed and the results were somewhat workable.  I uploaded the source code to CodePlex and didn’t really use it much after that.

Two and a half years later, I was annoyed at my rules again and fired up this code to fix my rules.  I discovered the code didn’t work like I expected, so I set to work fixing the problems.  Once it was working properly, I decided that the CodePlex project deserved to have a binary for download.  It wasn’t doing a lot of good to people who weren’t programmers and who could compile the code on their own.

After that update, I did a quick search to see if anything new had been learned about the Outlook rules file since I last worked on it.  Nothing.  But what I did stumble on was a post asking how to parse the rules file.  In the post, the author explained where the rules file was stored in the mail store file.  Taking that information, I was able to add the ability for my utility to read and write the rules directly from Outlook.  No more export/import hassle!  That is a huge step forward.

This unexpected progress has inspired me to work a little harder on the project.  There are random bits of code and comments that handle the different criteria and the different actions.  These need to be clarified and once that is done, this utility could be an entire replacement for the Rules Manager in Outlook.

The project is at http://rwzreader.codeplex.com.