Only CC’d? Please display in another color

If you receive scads of mails every day, it’s handy to be able to quickly see if each one was sent to you directly, or if you’re just on somebody’s CC list.

In Outlook, here’s how to set up this function:

1. Make sure you’re viewing your Inbox.

2. Use the main menu to select Tools | Organize. The “Ways to Organize Inbox” window will appear above the list with mail.

3. On the left side, you’ll see three options. Select “Using Colors”.



4. At the top right corner in that window, you’ll find an “Automatic Formatting” button ” Select it to open the following dialog:



5. Press the Add button to create a new rule.

6. Name this new rule something like “CC’s Only”:



7. Press the Condition button to display this dialog:



8. Check the “Where I am” box.

9. Next to that text, select “on the CC line with other people”


(Don’t worry, it will  work even if you’re the only one on the CC line.)

10. Press the OK button.


Now that you’ve told Outlook which emails interest you, you just have to specify the font that you’d like to use for these emails.

11. Press the Font button. Select the font, style and color  you’d like to use for all CC’d emails. image


12. Press the OK button to close the Font dialog box.

13. Press the OK button to close the Automatic Formatting dialog.

14. Select Tools | Organize from the main menu to hide the “Ways to Organize Inbox” window again.


After you’ve done this, any CC’d email will be easily recognized in your inbox. This makes it faster and easier to sift through your incoming mails.



  1. george said >

    Awesome tips. Thanks

  2. Tim said >

    Nice one – this’ll save a lot of headaches. Thanks

  3. Sonya said >

    This is really nice and it is retro active. I am loving this version.

  4. John said >

    Thanks for the tip. After this rule is applied, is it possible to sort your messages by color in the Inbox? For example is there something I can use in ‘Format Columns’?

  5. Lourdes said >

    Trying to help my boss with his overwhelming amount of emails… this is one feature I had no knowledge of and that will definitely help me in my efforts! Looking forward to discovering more…
    Thanks so much.

  6. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    @John – what you could probably do is create a rule that marks messages that you are only CC’d in as non-urgent, or assign them to a specific category.

    You could then sort your inbox based on the urgent-flag, or by category. I hope this helps.

  7. Mary said >

    THIS IS GREAT!!! I am going to forward this to my co-workers 🙂

  8. guisella said >

    super cool! great help!

  9. Raquel said >

    this is great.

  10. Rosemarie said >

    This is a great feature to have!!!

  11. Cynthia said >

    Does this make life easier! Thanks 🙂

  12. Angie said >

    Awesome!!!!!!!! Thanks!

  13. Vidya said >

    Superb.. Cool..Awesome!!!!!!!! Thanks!

  14. Benzi said >

    Terrific tip! Thanks!
    One question:

    Seems I accidentally set it up to color messages received from a specific person. How can I cancel the rule so his messages appear in the default color? Choosing Auto doesn’t seem to work

  15. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Benzi,

    You’re welcome – I’m glad you all like it!

    If you go to View | Current View | Customize Current View, you should see the Customize View Dialog.

    Press the button Automatic Formatting… to see the rules that are created for this view. Your new color messages rules should be visible there, too. You can then swith a rule off, or just delete it.

    I hope this helps.

    Kind regards,
    Taco Oosterkamp

  16. Benzi said >

    When I go to View | Current View | Customize Current View and Press the button Automatic Formatting, I don’t see my new color rules —
    all I see is the Automatic Formatting window, with:
    Unread messages
    Unread group headers
    Submitted but not sent
    Expired e-mail
    Overdue e-mail

    but nothing about the colors I set for CC-only or other conditions

  17. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Benzi,
    If I create a rule like I described in this post, I do see that rule in the Automatic Formatting Window. I just tried it again to be absolutely sure.
    If that doesn’t work the same in your situation, you may want to check with your system administrator or somebody else who can take a look at your computer. If anything else comes to my mind, I’ll let you know.
    – Taco Oosterkamp

  18. Benzi said >

    Thanks Taco — I don’t know why, but when I tried it again I saw the rules. Maybe I had the focus on tasks or something else when I clicked View | Current View | Customize Current View.

  19. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    @Benzi – yes, that sounds like a logical explanation. Glad that it worked for you after all.

  20. Ramnath said >

    Thanks this info will help me a lot in giving priority to answer my mails

  21. Karen said >

    Can I just CC someone on a meeting invite? I thought we used to be able to but I do not see where to do it now.
    Thanks for your help!

  22. Taco Oosterkamp said >
  23. Joep said >

    Voor de Nederlanders onder ons: de optie ‘Tools | Organize’ in het hoofdmenu van Outlook heet in het nederlands: ‘Extra |Indelen. De rest van de instructies zijn ook in het engels wel duidelijk volgens mij.

  24. Jacky said >

    Does this (only cc’d?) also work with Outlook 2007?

  25. Dave said >

    I’m using Outlook 2007. When I tried this, some of the emails in my inbox which have me addressed in the “To” line are also color-coded, not just those emails for which I’m only Cc’d. Help? Thanks.

  26. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    @Jacky – yes, I use Outlook 2007 to describe these steps.

    @Dave – could it be that you are both on the To-line and the Cc-line when this happens? Otherwise you may want to check the exact rules that you have set up in Outlook. I wouldn’t know why this would happen I’m afraid.

  27. Dave said >

    Taco and Jacky, thanks for responding. I just checked Outlook again, and it appears that I set up the rule correctly. I color-coded the emails with me as a Cc to appear in green. It’s easier to first describe which emails appear in default black:
    1. Emails sent only to me (my address is all that is in the To line, no one else is Cc’d).
    2. Emails sent to me and others, with no one Cc’d.
    3. Emails sent to me as part of a generic alias, with no one Cc’d.
    4. Some emails sent with my name in the To line, and others in the Cc’d line.

    So, all would be fine and dandy (except for item 4 above) if that were the whole story, assuming the green emails were working as they should. Here is the list of emails which appear in green, which should only be those showing my name (alone or with others) in the Cc line:
    1. Emails sent to me with my name in the To line, Cc’d to others (top email of a thread)…see 4 above…some are black, some are green…
    2. Emails sent to me with my name in the To line, Cc’d to others (not part of a thread)…see 4 above…
    3. Emails sent to me with my name in the Cc line (this one is actually correct!)

    So, I’m still stumped. Not sure if this added info is helpful or not. I have also turned off all other color-coding options except the Cc green option, and the results remain the same.

    Any more ideas? I’ve tried every option I could think of.


  28. Dave said >

    Taco and Jacky,

    I FIXED IT!!! With a little wrangling and few work-arounds. Here’s what worked for me:

    1. For the Cc condition, I do NOT check the box “Where I am on the CC line with other people” in the Filter screen.
    2. Go to Advanced in the Filter screen and define three CC field entries for special criteria. In the first CC field, I entered my last name in lower case. In the second Cc field, I entered my last name with the first letter capitalized. In the third Cc field, I entered my last name and first name, with the first letters of both names capitalized. All this is probably overkill on the rules, but I wanted to make sure I captured all the possible options for the Cc line, not knowing what Bill Gates hath wrought here.

    Result? It works like your original rule should have worked for me. Not sure if this is a problem with our organizaiton’s implementation of Outlook 2007, or if it could be seen by others.

    Whew! I’m happy now. 🙂

  29. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Dave, glad to hear that you fixed it and it now works for you. I’m still not sure why it didn’t work in the first place, but at least it got you thinking and tinkering 🙂 Enjoy.

  30. Tamarra said >

    This is a fantastic tip!

  31. Julie said >

    My boss does not want to see Outlook meeting requests in his inbox. Is there a way to set up rules in his email so those emails go to a seperate folder?

  32. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Julie,
    Yes, it looks like you can. I haven’t tried it, but this looks promising.

    1. From the Outlook (2007) main menu, choose: Tools | Rules and Alerts.
    2. Then click ‘New Rule…’.
    3. Select ‘Check messages when they arrive’, and press ‘Next >’.
    4. Select ‘which is a meeting invitation or update’, and press ‘Next >’.
    5. Select ‘move it to the specified folder’, then click the link ‘specified’ at the bottom of the screen.
    6. Select the folder you want to use, and press the ‘OK’, then press ‘Next >’.
    7. Press ‘Next >’ again.
    8. Specify a name for your rule, then press ‘Finish’.

    That should do it.
    Please let me know if this helps.
    – Taco Oosterkamp

  33. nagels said >

    Thanks, it works and will be very useful!

  34. LJ said >

    Perfect! Very helpful, thank you.

  35. Constance said >


    Over the years, I have saved around 35,000 e-mails in my system. Is there a way to compare the e-mails for exact duplicates so I can delete everything but the last e-mail in each trail and cut down this number? Just searching for the Subject line match isn’t assurance that all the e-mails in the trail contain the exact same information. Is there a short-cut or tool to do this? Thanks, constance

  36. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Constance,

    I am not aware of such a tool, but I have never searched for it either. It would be quite a job to build such a tool in my opinion, because of all the variations in which text can appear.

    My own approach is to just store all the e-mails (except for obvious spam) that I receive. I have an archive with 10 years of e-mails. I store them on my Exchange server in separate folders per year, but you can store them any way you want as long as you make sure that you make backups if you want them.

    And if you are short on megabytes, you can also sort a folder on the Size of the messages. That way, you can easily delete the ones that take up most space (for instance because of huge attachments). If you want to search for really big messages throughout multiple folders, use Ctrl+Shift+F.

    I hope this helps,
    Taco Oosterkamp

  37. Michael said >

    Dear all,

    I also receive a lot of CC mails a day. What i started using a couple of years back is instead of using colours, i created a separate folder named CC. I made a rule just like above mentioned, instead of using colours i mentioned that the mail where i am in CC should be moved directly in this CC folder.
    I then told the people with whom i am working that i only 2-3 a week check my folder CC mails and read them as it was just for my infomation to know. I know then what is happening in my team.
    99% of the time you receive CC mails, it is only FYI and no action needed.
    I also mentioned to the team that if the want action from me, they should put me in the TO address and not CC address…. This works for me perfect, and also the team knows exactly what they can expect from me….
    Saves me a lot of time in the week!
    Hope it helps,

  38. Steve H said >

    Duplicate email remover
    This is a fairly basic plugin for Outlook, but is free and does the job.
    Just be aware of its limitations
    This is a fantastic plugin, very configurable.
    The only downside is the $24 price tag.

  39. Berend said >

    I have created many subfolders in my inbox. Is there a way to specify automatic formatting rules for all folders?

  40. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Berend, I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answer to that question.

  41. vsrao said >

    If email has alias name then organizing color is not working.
    example: 1. …. this is working as expected
    2. Suppose in above email has ‘defg’ as alias name, then in To or CC address alias name is displaying, now colors are not displaying.

    Any idea to resolve this issue.

  42. James said >

    I found a solution for conditional formatting for CC for a DIFFERENT email address (not me).

    I am using a shared mailbox and I want to know when there is mail there that was NOT ALSO sent to my individual mailbox (because those mails are ones I need to pay attention to). For some reason, using Conditional Formatting > Advanced > Cc – Contains – [Name] was not working consistently, even though I tried adding the email address, display name, first name, last name, caps and lowercase, etc.

    Create a RULE to apply a CATEGORY to mail items that were sent to my individual mailbox. Create a CONDITIONAL FORMAT for the CATEGORY (instead of the CC field). Woks like a charm.

  43. Hari said >

    Great Tips. Thank you very much.

    I also expected this to work when I search emails and get list of emails as result of search. But search results appear in Default black color. Any suggestions on how to make it work for search results too?

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