We’ve all been there – stuck in a chain of Reply All emails that’s gone on far too long and is clogging your inbox. Either the chain started innocently enough with an FYI email to a group that’s spun out of control. Or you’re stuck on a chain you shouldn’t have been copied on in the first place.
Luckily, if you’re using Outlook, there are a few things you can do to get out from under the mess. If you’re the sender, you can stop your recipients from using the Reply All button in the first place. If you’re a recipient, you can opt out. Using these two tricks should help you cut down on the number of unnecessary emails you get from reply all button abuse.
How to prevent people from using Reply All
To prevent recipients from replying all to your email, you’ll need to create a custom form in Outlook (all recipients must be using Outlook for this to work). This seems like a lot of steps, but you’ll only need to set up the form once.
Go to “Design a Form.” If you’re using Outlook 2013 or later, this is on the Developer tab. If you’re using an earlier version, it’s on the Tools tab (if you don’t have either, you’ll need to add the tab first using the Customize Your Ribbon option). If you’re using Office 2016 or Office 365, you can get it to by typing “form” in the “Tell me what you want to do…” box in the ribbon.
Once you click the “Design a Form” button, you’ll get a box that looks like this:
In the “Look In:” drop down, choose “Standard Forms Library.” Then, select “Message” and click “Open.” A message window will open that looks like a lot like a normal new email message – but with very different options. This is the developer view. For this form, you’ll need to go to the “Actions” tab:
Once you’re on the “Actions” tab, you’ll see these options you can customize. To customize the use of Reply All, double click on that line:
A new box will pop up. Uncheck the box next to “Enabled” and hit “Ok.” After the box closes, you’ll need to go to the “Properties” tab (right next to the “Actions” tab).
Once you’re on the “Properties” tab, you’ll need to check to box next to “Send form definition with item.” (You’ll get a pop-up box saying this isn’t a recommended action – hit Ok.)
Then, you need to publish the form. To do this, click the “Publish” button in the main ribbon on the message window, then select “Publish Form As”
When the “Publish Form As” box comes up, change “Look in:” to “Personal Forms Library”:
Change the “Display Name” to something you can easily remember, like “No Reply Alls”. In the “Form Name” box, enter a unique name (no spaces), like “noreplyalls”. Hit Publish. You can close the Form Editor window that looks like an email message now (you don’t need to save changes – you saved them by Publishing them).
Now you can use this form to send emails that won’t let people reply all! To use it, you’ll need to write your email using the form you just created.
On the Tools/Developer tab, click “Choose Form” and in the box that pops up, select “Personal Forms Library” in the “Look In:” drop down. Select the form you just created and hit open. A new message window will pop up. Use this to write and send your email.
The email will appear completely normal to your recipients. But, if they try to Reply All, they will get a pop-up message saying “That action is not available for this item.”
How to Opt Out of Reply All conversations
To ignore an email chain/conversation, select a message in the email chain, and click the “Ignore” button (right next to the deleted button). This will send all future replies directly to your “Deleted Items” folder.
Use with caution, though (especially if you habitually clean out your deleted messages folder). It will also delete the messages in the chain you’ve already received.
If you need to stop ignoring a conversation, and it’s still in your Deleted Items folder, select a message and click the Ignore button again. The emails will be restored to your Inbox and future replies will go to your Inbox.