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Office 365 Clutter Learns Which Messages Are Less Important

3 Main Clutter Takeaways

Machine LearningAs evidenced by the Office 365 Roadmap, Microsoft continues to release to the market over 3 dozen new productivity and security features for customers annually. One of these features is Clutter, that will likely be pivotal in using technology for the future:

  1. On June 1, 2015, Microsoft will enable Clutter by default for Office 365 subscribers that will learn which e-mail messages are less important and automatically file them in a Clutter folder.
  2. The clutter folder is available from Outlook Web App, Outlook on the desktop, and any smartphone using Exchange Active Sync.
  3. Clutter will learn your habits over time and is not a replacement for junk mail or mailbox rules.

[Editor’s Note: You should NOT be afraid of suddenly losing messages. It takes about 2 weeks before the system starts putting anything in Clutter automatically. Some personal examples of less important e-mails were: PRWeb Connection newsletter, the lunch food truck notice of the week, and regular Best Buy offers.]

Why Clutter Matters?

Future VisionTo simply ignore Clutter or turn it off is a HUGE mistake. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 28% of our work week is lost checking e-mail. Any sort of automated assistance to reduce email management should be welcomed. Obviously, we’ve all probably “received” an important email that we discover later was automatically routed to junk. No technology is perfect, but usage will continuously make Clutter better and earn your trust.

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. – John Wooden

With the dizzying pace of technology change, you can no longer simply stick with what you know. It’s imperative that the workforce of today be curious about technology and willing to try new things regularly. Just like the rules of the road, all of us are expected to understand and react responsibly. Failure to learn new technology quickly will put you at a distinct disadvantage versus the competition by working harder with fewer opportunities. If Clutter can save you just 15 minutes per day, you gain back approximately 100 hours of more productive time over the year.

How Clutter Works

Clutter learns from your actions to determine the messages you are likely to ignore. As less important messages arrive, they are automatically moved to the Clutter folder. Clutter does this by leveraging the Office Graph machine learning techniques to determine which messages are Clutter. It gets smarter over time, learning from your prior actions with similar messages, and assessing things like the type of content and even how you are addressed in the message. The Clutter experience is personalized to each individual and reflects an email experience that adapts to your actions and preferences without you having to do anything. The information Clutter learns from each user’s actions are only applied to that user’s experience and are not shared with anyone else.

Clutter is best suited and most effective for those of us who tend to pile up messages in our inboxes like the example shown below. 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.


Now, if the user turns on clutter, all of the unimportant items are automatically removed from the inbox, and there is a much shorter list of items to manage. The less important messages are simply moved to the Clutter folder. They remain out of your way until and if you have time to review the items.


Unimportant items now live in a special view that can be accessed from the “CLUTTER” footer at the bottom of the inbox.  This features allows you to quickly skim all of the items marked as clutter and see if there is anything of interest.  If so, you can easily right-click on an item, and mark it as “Not Clutter,” to be returned to the inbox.  The system will recognize that it made a mistake and use this signal to adjust the model accordingly.


You check this “clutter” view as frequently or infrequently as you like.  The key is that you can focus on what is important and get work done because the inbox only contains messages that truly matter to you.

Once you have finished skimming the clutter view,  delete all the items in the view by  clicking the “Delete All” link at the top of the view.  This action will delete all the clutter items and immediately return the you to your de-cluttered inbox.

Top 20 Clutter Facts

  1. Clutter is already available for your Office 365 tenant and may be enabled in Outlook Web App (OWA) options page.
  2. After Clutter is enabled, you may disable it in the OWA options page, but existing items will remain in the Clutter folder.
  3. Clutter takes time to learn your preferences and you can help train the system faster by moving messages to the Clutter folder.
  4. During your normal work, use right-click commands or drag and drop to move items and explicitly train Clutter.
  5. Messages are not automatically deleted from Clutter, but there is a delete all option.
  6. Clutter functions work in Outlook on the desktop, as well as OWA and smartphones.
  7. Clutter also uses environment hints like Active Directory organizational structure to determine the importance of messages.
  8. Administrators may run a Power Shell command to enable Clutter for all users.
  9. On June 1, 2015, Microsoft will automatically enable Clutter for all Office 365 subscribers.
  10. Clutter only works for user mailboxes and not shared or group mailboxes.
  11. Messages determined by unique personal usage to be unimportant are automatically moved to the Clutter folder.
  12. Clutter works best for people who receive 100 messages or more per day.
  13. Inbox rules have priority over clutter.
  14. Clutter is not junk mail, but rather low priority messages.
  15. Clutter is currently only available for Office 365, but may be rolled out in future on premise releases of Exchange.
  16. Clutter works in hybrid environments, but on only for cloud mailboxes.
  17. You can stop Clutter from processing a message by moving it back to the Inbox.
  18. Retention polices may be set on Clutter folders for compliance.
  19. Clutter messages will still show as unread.
  20. Clutter is a more advanced version of Sweep used in

Final Thought

People need a simple – but accurate – way to manage the high volume of email messages received. That is exactly how clutter works. Clutter looks for how “importantly” or “unimportantly” you treat email messages and looks for patterns behind those behaviors. Once Clutter understands those patterns, it can look for them as new email arrives and help you by separating out the clutter from the rest of your inbox.

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