Can Outlook automatically foward Email based on body content?
December 2, 2005 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I need Outlook to automatically forward received email to different addresses based on text in the body of the email. Can this be done with an outlook add-in/plug-in, or possibly done outside of Outlook?

Long-winded explanation:

I work in a Microsoft-centered, change-averse organization where I have no control over the email server (Microsoft Exchange). We also have a proprietary system in the organization that can automatically send emails via the Exchange Server reporting financial activity. Unfortunately this system can only send the emails to one particular email address.

We need to automatically forward these activity emails to different customers. We can get a 3-4 letter customer code to appear in the body of the emails generated by the proprietary system. For example, for activity that is for Acme, Inc., I can get the text "Customer: ACME" to appear in the body of the email.

I need, through the Outlook 2000 email client, to have incoming emails' bodies scanned for the particular 3-4 letter customer code, look up the corresponding customer email address in an external table (i.e., ACME = I can edit as necessary, and then automatically forward that email to the customer email address.

It doesn't matter if the emails appear to come from my email address, or that they have the original email's headers in them when forwarded.

Can I do this in the way I'm envisioning? How? Via an Outlook 2000 "plug-in" or "add-on"? Or is there a better way to accomplish this? I am the administrator of my own PC and can install other email clients/software.
posted by de void to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Are you stuck with Outlook 2000? In Outlook 2003, at least, you can create a rule to forward a message to another address based on words in the body. (I don't know if you can do with this 2000; you may want to poke through the options for creating rules, if you haven't already).
posted by Godbert at 10:16 AM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Outlook 2000 dose have rules, so that looks like it's one solution, although I have the feeling that adding 150 rules (one for each customer) is going to bog it down.
posted by de void at 10:58 AM on December 2, 2005

Doesn't really matter how much it's getting bogged down as long as it finishes forwarding the reports in a timely fashion.

I know Microsoft Entourage (for the Mac) can do this so that might also be an option if there's a Mac around.
posted by kindall at 11:08 AM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: It would matter to me if it took 5 minutes to process 150 rules each time a single email came in, or if it prevented me from doing anything else on the PC while it processed the rules.

No Macs in this environment, unfortunately.

I have found this page on automatic message processing tools:
posted by de void at 11:57 AM on December 2, 2005

Best answer: 150 rules is nothing, but it will making using Outlook difficult on an older machine.

Unfortunately you might not be able to do very complex message processing using the rules wizard. In that case, you can use Visual Basic for Applications, a development environment built into Office applications.

While you're in Outlook, hit ALT+F11 to bring it up. You can do just about anything here, and it'll be much easier to maintain than 150 rules. There's a bunch of tutorials here to get you started. Google Outlook VBA for more.
posted by exhilaration at 1:18 PM on December 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thank you exhilaration! I have some VB programming experience in Excel so this may be the best solution.
posted by de void at 1:21 PM on December 2, 2005

I wouldn't worry too much about the performance impact of the rules - if you're using Exchange they can probably be run on the server! Under Outlook 2003, at least, you can see which ones will be run on the server vs on the client, and it will warn you when a rule you created is only on the client (warning that it won't run while your client is not connected).
posted by aubilenon at 9:44 PM on December 2, 2005

Make sure your "unique" IDs are truly unique. It probably wouldn't be a good thing for one of your customers to get a report intended for a different customer based on an unexpected match in another part of the message.
posted by Good Brain at 11:46 PM on December 2, 2005

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