If you’re using the latest version of Outlook, you’ve probably noticed a Junk Email folder, a Clutter folder, and something called Focused Inbox. All of this seems to affect where your mail ends, but it may not be clear why or when this happens. Here’s how they work and how to turn them off if you don’t like them.

Note . These features are available in Outlook Web App, Outlook 365, Outlook 2016, and Outlook 2019. If you’re using an older version of Outlook, you won’t see them.

What is junk mail for?

The simplest explanation for junk email is the folder where Outlook sends mail that it considers spam. This works in the same way as spam folders in other email clients, such as the Spam category in Gmail.

If you work in a corporate environment, you may not see much here because many companies apply filters to stop spam before it reaches your inbox. If you use Outlook to access a web account from Google or Yahoo! then you may not see much here either, since spam is not usually loaded on your client.

If you see messages in your Junk Email folder, you must follow your company’s spam policy. If you have junk mail in your personal Outlook, follow the usual precautions: don’t open attachments, open mail only if you know the sender’s email address, and if you’re in any doubt, delete the mail (Shift + Delete will completely delete mail, bypassing the «Deleted Items» folder.

What is the mess for?

Clutter is a separate folder where Outlook sends messages that it doesn’t consider spam, but doesn’t consider them important enough to clutter up your inbox. This includes things like regular newsletters, coupon emails and so on.

Clutter aims to reduce the «noise» in your inbox by automatically sending unimportant messages to your Clutter folder. It never sends messages from your chain of command or direct reports, but over time it learns what messages you have read and what you reply to. If Outlook detects that you regularly ignore messages from certain senders, for example, it may start moving them to the Clutter folder for you.

What is a mailbox for?

Focused Inbox is a way to view your inbox. Unlike junk and clutter, this is not a new or separate folder. Instead, it separates your view of incoming messages into messages that it considers important to you (the «focused» view) and messages that it considers not so important to you (the «Other» view). You can enable Focused Inbox by going to the View tab and toggling the «Show Focused Inbox» option on or off.

Focused Inbox is a replacement for Clutter that wasn’t particularly popular. Many users didn’t like going to another folder to find messages that Outlook didn’t think were important, especially because Clutter only got accurate results if you «trained» it by manually moving messages between inboxes. and Clutter. Some users assumed that Clutter was just another way to filter spam, so they never looked at the folder and deleted the contents without reading anything that was there.

Microsoft recognized that Clutter didn’t work and quickly replaced it with Focused Inbox. Clutter and Focused Inbox share code, so you can only enable one or the other, but not both at the same time. Clutter is currently slated to be removed from Outlook in January 2020, at which point you’ll only have junk and the focus folder.

How do you turn them off?

If you’re the kind of person who likes to be in complete control of their mail, you might want to disable all of these features. Here’s how.

How to disable spam

We do not recommend disabling spam as it provides an additional layer of protection against phishing and malware attacks. But if you’re determined to do so, you’ll need to sign in to Outlook Web App. Once you’re signed in, click on the «Settings» button at the top right of the page, scroll down and select «Mail».

Options open on the left, so scroll down to Accounts > Block & Allow and select Don’t move email to my Junk Email folder.

Click «Save» at the top of the page to save your settings changes. You can go back anytime and turn Junk Email back on.

How to turn off clutter

If you are using Office 365 then you have both Clutter and Focused Inbox. Since you can’t turn both devices on, a quick way to turn off Clutter is to turn on Focused Inbox. This won’t turn off Clutter, but will bypass it and use the Focused Inbox instead.

But if you don’t want to use Focused Inbox or Clutter, you need to sign in to Outlook Web App. Once you are logged in, click the «Settings» button at the top right corner of the page. Scroll down a bit on the page and select the «Mail» option.

The options open on the left, so scroll down to «Auto Handling» > «Clutter» and turn off the «Individual items identified as clutter» option.

Click «Save» at the top of the page to save your settings changes. You can come back at any time and turn Clutter back on.

How to turn off focused mailbox

Focused Inbox is much easier to disable. Go to the «View» tab in Outlook and disable the «View Focused Mailbox» option.

You can enable it at any time.

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