Focus on important emails and filter boring ones in Windows 10 Mail

Filter emails in Windows 10 Mail app and only see important messages

Microsoft continues to improve the Mail app in Windows 10 and now there is an option to filter out all the boring emails you get every day so you can focus on the important ones. Here’s how.

Sort incoming email by priority into different inboxes so you can focus on the important messages.

In order to use this feature in the Mail app you must be running the latest update for the Mail app. To check that it is up to date, open the Windows Store app. Click your photo next to the search box at the top and select Downloads updates on the menu.

You don't need Windows 10 Creator's update, although that will update Mail too.

First look at Mail focused inbox

Apparently I am the first to see this new feature, according to the Mail app when I started it. Really? The first in the whole wide world?

Notice in Windows 10 Mail app

What this new feature does is to create two tabs for viewing the email messages in the inbox. One is called Focused and the other is Other. (If you use the Outlook app on your phone or tablet, you'll be familiar with this feature.)

Windows 10 Mail app focused inbox

The app, probably using some form of AI, tries to work out which emails are important and it lists them on the Focused tab.

Sometimes it is obvious, such as an email from a contact, well known company, or someone you have emailed before.

The Other tab lists emails it thinks are not important. Email newsletters, social media status updates, and similar messages appear on the Other tab. It isn’t junk, but it does not need your immediate attention.

Windows 10 Mail app focused inbox

Whatever rules the Mail app is using to decide whether a message should be on the Focused or Other tab, they are not perfect. The occasional unimportant message appears on the Focused tab.

However, right clicking a message in the inbox enables it to be moved to the Other tab or always moved to the Other tab.

Right click a message on the Other tab and there is an option to move it to the Focused tab or always move it to Focused.

Windows 10 Mail app focused inbox

Don’t worry if Mail does not get it right straight away. By moving messages from Focused to Other or Other to Focused, it will learn which tab emails should be displayed on. It learns what is important to you and what isn’t.

The more you teach it, the better it will become at sorting the ever increasing amount of email we get every day. First the junk mail filters remove the obvious spam from the incoming emails and then the Focused/Other feature sorts what is left into the important and unimportant inbox lists.

Turn off the Focused inbox

The downside of this automatic email sorting is that to check for new messages you have to select one tab, read your emails, then select another tab and read more emails.

Are two tabs more work than one tab? Could an important email be missed if it ends up misclassified on the Other tab? Possibly.

Here’s how to turn off the feature if you prefer to see all your emails on one tab.

Windows 10 Mail app focused inbox

  1. Click the gear icon at the bottom of the sidebar to open Settings.
  2. Click Reading.
  3. Down at the bottom is Focused inbox. Select an email account and set the switch to Off.

Modern Mail musings

After customising the Mail app with the dark theme, setting a background picture, and now using Focused/Other tabs, it is becoming quite a good email app. It isn’t in the same league as Outlook from Microsoft Office, but for home users it is pretty good.


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2 Comments on Focus on important emails and filter boring ones in Windows 10 Mail

  1. When two emails come into my inbox from the same person on the same day, and I’m using Focused Inbox, I can see the first email but the other is hidden, underneath so to speak. How do I see this other email without switching of Focus? (Windows 10 Mail)

    • It will make mistakes at first and you must teach Mail which tab emails should be on. Right click an email and select ‘Move to other’ or ‘Always move to other’ – see the screenshot above. Eventually it will learn which tabs to put emails on.

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