Call it a little less than junk. Call it filler. Call it graymail. In the end, it's mail you've probably opted into and read sparingly. Microsoft calls it 'clutter.' Clutter is best suited and most effective for those of you who tend to pile up messages in your inbox. Clutter respects your existing email rules, so if you have created rules to organize your email those rules continue to be applied and Clutter won’t act on those messages.
When turned on, this feature will learn your email reading habits (within Outlook or Outlook Web App) and move less important emails into a 'Clutter' folder where they can be ignored or reviewed later. Most of the mail going into the folder should be bulk mail (advertisements) and messages from mailing lists. However, you will want to periodically check the Clutter folder as it may move legitimate email into this folder.
Turn Clutter on/off
Each person controls whether to turn Clutter on or off. You control Clutter from the Outlook on the web options menu. Clutter begins taking actions once it has sufficiently learned your work style and can confidently begin working for you. If you later find Clutter isn’t for you, it can be turned off any time.
Important: The messages within the clutter folder will remain in this folder even after the clutter feature has been turned off. If you want to save them in another folder, they will have to be manually moved.
Will Clutter start working immediately?
Yes, once it is enabled for a mailbox. But it takes time for a good set of signals to be accumulated for Clutter to learn what is important to an individual user. You can help accelerate the process by acting as a form of “manual Clutter” just after the feature is enabled by moving items into the Clutter folder or by marking messages as Clutter. Clutter will learn from your actions and will begin to mimic them as new mail arrives. In general, the more messages you mark or move, the more evidence you provide for Clutter to analyze and the quicker it will be in understanding how you process email. It's also fair to say Clutter might require to observe how you process a couple of hundred messages before it is really useful.
How to train Clutter in Outlook on the web or Outlook
- Outlook on the web
- If you are using Outlook on the web and need to mark messages as "not clutter", either right-click on the message and choose 'Mark as not clutter' or just drag it to the Inbox. If messages are not being placed into the "Clutter" folder, right-click and choose 'Mark as clutter' or drag it to the "Clutter" folder.
- In Outlook and other clients, you’ll need to drag a message to the clutter folder to mark it as clutter or drag it to the Inbox to mark it not clutter.
Is Clutter for everyone?
Anyone can enable Clutter but it really won't do much good for people who only receive a small number of messages daily. For one thing, it's much easier for a human to process a small Inbox. But more importantly, Clutter won't have sufficient information for it to make good decisions on your behalf. In a nutshell, Clutter delivers best value to people who receive more than a hundred messages daily and especially so for people who tend to leave everything in the Inbox. If you're someone who processes email immediately after it arrives and either delete or file a message in an appropriate folder, you might not get much value from Clutter. The same is true if you have the habit of leaving email in the Inbox and set the read/unread status to track tasks, which might generate some pretty confusing signals for Clutter!
Microsoft is working on ways to identify the users who will best benefit from Clutter and how to inform these users that the feature is available. Perhaps they'll receive a message from Office 365 outlining how Clutter works and an invitation to enable it.
Should some users avoid Clutter?
Introducing automatic processing of email contains some risk that an important message might not be processed correctly. For most users the risk is low but it is conceivable that users who handle highly confidential or time-sensitive information might run into a situation where a message that should receive human attention in a certain timeframe does not. For example, people working on a corporate merger or acquisition often receive opinions and advice from external legal or accounting firms. It would be a bad thing if one of these messages was mis-categorized by a tool like Clutter (or deemed to be junk mail). For this reason, it is generally advise that super-sensitive mailboxes receive care and attention from human beings rather than machines.
How frequently will users receive notifications from Clutter?
Users will receive one summary notification per week and up to one message per day when new message types are moved to Clutter, i.e. the first time a message from given distribution list is moved. The notifications are delivered to your inbox to ensure you can stay informed across the range clients you might use, including Outlook desktop and mobile email clients.