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Focused Inbox—focus on the emails that matter most

For many, the inbox is the command center for their day. It’s the way to keep track of what is going on and what needs to get done. Outlook’s Focused Inbox makes this process easier by helping you focus on the emails that matter most to you. It separates your inbox into two tabs — Focused and Other. Emails that you need to act on right away are on the Focused tab, while the rest wait for you in Other. You’ll be informed about email flowing to “Other”, and you can switch between tabs at any time to take a quick look. For more about what makes Focused Inbox great, see Outlook helps you focus on what matters to you.

Admin controls available for Focused Inbox:

Ensure certain business critical mails land in the Focused tab. Tenant admins have controls to ensure certain business critical communications, like HR, Payroll, etc., always land in the user’s Focused tab of the Inbox. These whitelists can be set up using mail flow rules from the Admin center or via PowerShell cmdlets. After these are set up successfully, all future messages that satisfy these mail flow rules would be delivered in the Focused tab of the Inbox on Outlook clients that support Focused Inbox. Tenant and mailbox level control to enable/disable Focused Inbox. Tenant admins will controls to enable/disable Focused Inbox on Outlook clients (Windows, Mac, and web) for all current and future mailboxes or select mailboxes in their tenant. These controls are available via PowerShell cmdlets. If tenant admins enable/disable Focused Inbox, the Focused Inbox experience will be turned ON/OFF for these users the next time they boot the client. These controls do not block the availability of the feature for these users. If the users so desire, they can still re-enable the feature individually again on each of their clients.

Transition from Clutter

Focused Inbox is a refinement and improvement of a previous feature called Clutter. Clutter’s purpose was also to help you focus on the most important items in your inbox, but it did so by moving “Other” email to a separate folder. Focused Inbox makes it easier for you to stay on top of incoming email without having to visit another folder. The same machine learned algorithm that moved items to the Clutter folder now powers Focused Inbox, meaning that any emails that were set to move to Clutter will now be moved to Other. The learning and training that users invested into Clutter are transitioned to Focused Inbox without any effort on the user’s part. Users can keep using the existing Clutter experience through the transition. However, after the transition period, Clutter will be completely replaced by Focused Inbox. In the meantime, if a Clutter user chooses to opt-in to using Focused Inbox they will no longer receive less actionable email in the “Clutter” folder. Instead, email will be split between the Focused and Other tabs in their inbox. Tenant admins will be proactively notified before Clutter is fully replaced.

Note: If a user activates Focused Inbox from Outlook on the web, their messages will no longer be moved to the Clutter folder in Outlook desktop. For this reason, we don’t prompt active Clutter users to try Focused Inbox in Outlook on the web.

If you have previously disabled Clutter for users in your organization, we will not automatically re-enable Clutter for those users, nor will we automatically enable Focused Inbox for those users. The following table outlines how the user experience will look like as Focused Inbox rolls out:
Admin Action User Experience - Today
If admin does nothing during Focused Inbox rollout
  • OFF by default for users who are actively using Clutter today
  • OFF by default for users who have disabled Clutter themselves
  • OFF by default for user who had Clutter disabled by an administrator
  • ON by default for everyone else
  • Individual user can still enable or disable the feature in supported Outlook clients
If admin disables Focused Inbox organizationally
  • OFF by default for every user
  • Individual user can still enable or disable the feature in supported Outlook clients
If admin enables Focused Inbox organizationally
  • ON by default for every user in your organization (including those using Clutter before)
  • Individual user can still enable or disable the feature in supported Outlook clients

Roll out of Focused Inbox

Focused Inbox is now available (as of December 2017) to all Office 365 customers on the Monthly Channel of Office 365 ProPlus. Customers on the Semi-Annual Channel will see it arrive in the March 2018 Semi-Annual Targeted release and the July 2018 Semi-Annual release, according to that channel’s standard scheduleFrequently asked questions:
  1. What happens to the Clutter folder after a user enables Focused Inbox? After Focused Inbox is enabled for a mailbox, Clutter folder would be demoted to a regular user folder. All regular user created folder operations would be supported, including delete.
  2. Could admins clean up the Clutter folder for their users without enabling Focused Inbox? We will enable admins to clean up the Clutter folder for their users, if they so desire. This will be supported via the current PowerShell cmdlets.
  3. Is Focused Inbox available to on-premises users? Focused Inbox only applies to Office 365 Exchange Online tenants and users.
  4. Which Outlook clients support Focused Inbox? Here is an updated list of supported Outlook clients.
    Platform Required build
    iOS Any supported build
    Android Any supported build
    Mac1 15.26+
    Web N/A. Available to all users.
    Windows 10 Mobile 16.0.8600+
    Outlook 2016 for Windows(1), (2),(3) 16.0.7967.2xxx+  |  Version 1703 of Current Channel. Expected as part of July 2018 Semi-Annual release.
    (1) requires the Office 365 subscription versions of the clients. Focused Inbox will not be delivered to Outlook for Mac 2011, or the perpetual versions of Outlook 2013 for Windows and Outlook 2016 for Windows. (2) Prior to build 16.0.8730 Version 1711, requires Modern Authentication to be enabled for Exchange Online.
The Exchange Team

Updates

  • 6/5/2017:  Updated list of supported clients.
  • 11/8/2017: Changed "Modern Authentication to be enabled for Exchange Online" to "Prior to build 16.0.8730 Version 1711, requires Modern Authentication to be enabled for Exchange Online." Removed "(3) We are also working on an additional update, which will remove the requirement of Modern Authentication for Focused Inbox to work. That will come in a future fork." Changed "Emails that matter most to you are in the Focused tab, while the rest remain easily accessible—but out of the way in the Other tab." to "Emails that you need to act on right away are on the Focused tab, while the rest wait for you in Other."
  • 12/12/2017: Several updates related to rollout. Details here.
95 Comments
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I have clutter disabled on my tenant for all users. Will I be required to run another powershell cmdlet to disable focused mailboxes?
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I didn't think you could disable Clutter at the tenant level, but with Focused Inbox you can disable it with the following command:

Set-OrganizationConfig -FocusedInboxOn $False

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I have never heard of anyone disabling clutter on the tenant level. It has always been per user based and would enable itself no matter what.
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You can disable clutter on the Tenant level for all NEW mailboxes created. You cannot disable clutter for mailboxes with it already enabled.
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its possible throught powershell, I disabled it to for all 55 of my users.
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We do this for our O365 clients at the tenant level through PowerShell. Clutter adds to the confusion and many times decision makers have gotten very angry at missed emails due these "innovative features".
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Yet another unwanted forced feature that I am going to have to waste time running powershell scripts to disable for my entire tenant.
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I agree, it's frustrating that MS enables these new features by Default. I missed disabling Clutter before our 6000 users got it, now i cant disable it for all because some are actually using it. We continually get help desk calls asking why emails went to Clutter. MS please disable new features by Default!
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It's actually legit if you try it out, stop hatin
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Some of you talk like running a powershell command is an all-day chore. It takes five minutes - max.
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I actually fine if you educate your user base, many will find it amazing. I to was not a fan of Clutter, but after a campaign the feedback we got back was incredible.
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That's not the point. You don't mess with users settings without their explicit permission. Period.
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I agree Dan. However, educating your user base on Focused Inbox, Power Apps, Flow, Teams, Office 365 Planner, Modern Sites...oh, let's not forget Docs.com and Office 365 Groups....the list goes on. Change Management is needed for a number of these items, in addition to security review and training. It's not too much to ask to have it turned off by default so we can strategically enable features instead of re-actively responding to them.
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It's not about hatin...it's about change management and productivity. Users have jobs to do not hours to devote to every new whim MS wants to enable.
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Dan, "focused" email has NOT been very popular. I found it to be one of the most needless, time wasting pieces of nonsense I've ever seen. And for the MANY (actually MOST) people who NEVER requested it, MS should NOT be making these changes that are causes more WASTE OF TIME for users and possibly missed important email.. and/or delayed in seeing it. Yes, just let MS decide on what is important for them to see .... such silliness. Like many people, one of many reasons, I HATE MS (Microsoft).
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Joey, the per-user disabling of Clutter in a tenant the size of the one I manage (about 380,000 mailboxes) could easily take more than a week to complete, with frequent monitoring and restarting due to multiple connectivity losses. Managing mailbox-level features in a large tenant can be time-consuming. I am VERY happy to see that Focused Inbox can be turned off globally with a single command, which was not true of Clutter. This gives us an easier way to roll out the feature according to OUR preferences and schedule after first evaluating it in our test tenant.
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Could not agree more.
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It's much better NOT to have "focused" email at all. Don't change things to my inbox which I NEVER asked you to change. Absolutely ridiculous and very many people hate it. When I was about 4 years old, I would have known to just give an OPTION to those who want it instead of this crap. I guess MS is going to decide what's important, for you! ! I use MS as little as possible and have removed most of MS from my business and personal life, due to this nonsense.
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Active Clutter users will have to opt-in to Focused Inbox and will be able to do so from an in-app prompt in Outlook. What will happen for users who do not use clutter in our tenant (who have disabled the clutter feature in their mailbox)?
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This is one of the singularly assanine changes ever made. Take something that works perfectly well and screw with it... Just stupid!
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I absolutely agree - how the hell do they know whats important to me - I miss so many emails. Is there a way to disable focused
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Will this include the ability to 'link' or 'unify' inboxes? It's a frequent request from my users.
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how do you disable this Focus....I just want an INBOX
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Why do you continue to make the experience difficult for your clients. You should ALWAYS default to off for new features and not force the features to clients, especially since you, that are managing the roll out, can't event give your clients a date for the change which is 'best practice' in any kind of standards. You can make it an option for clients that want to receive these updates automatically that they turn on auto updates, no different then Google. You then take another step and put the burden on our admins to constantly learn and have to do additional administrative steps to disable features. This also causes a black eye for the IT departments since they look silly not knowing when changes are specifically coming or how they will work specifically so it can be adequately communicated out. Please think outside the box and respect each client and how they need to operate their business....
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I disagree out with the old, in with the new. It's better if you actually try it before complaining.
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This person is speaking for a lot of us. This is ridiculous to force features on to users like this. It is a complete nonsense.. If you can't figure out how to make this configurable on the Tenant level to let us admins decide when is best to roll this out - then please just DO NOT.
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DO NOT change my email inbox when I did NOT ask for it!! The DUMB focused email CRAP caused me to miss important messages for a while. And MORE WASTE of my time to stop this ridiculous change which I did NOT ask for anyway.
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“If we disable Focused Inbox on organization level, will this feature also disable in mobile phones whoever uses exchange account in their phones?” This is being sometime I see this feature already using on phones, if we disable then user might come back with many questions.
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Great questions being asked in Comments below. Is anyone from Microsoft looking at this, or do we need to open a Premier call to get answers?
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I currently see the Get-FocusedInbox and Set-FocusedInbox cmdlets when connected to Exchange Online PowerShell. Where are the tenant-level commands? Will there be something like Get-TenantFocusedInbox?
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I don't remember the exact property off the top of my head, so just run:

Get-OrganizationConfig | Select *focus*

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Love the Focused Inbox in the Outlook iOS app so very happy to hear this is moving to the desktop.
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Will this be pushed out to Outlook 2013 at any point? Or, will it be strictly Outlook 2016 along with OWA and mobile Outlook apps?
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Yes, I'm a solo business owner. I need to see all of my e-mails in one place. Switching between two different places just makes no sense. I may miss important e-mails, like the ones that were sitting in my Clutter box. I will be calling your tech line so that you can walk me through how to turn this feature off.
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Could this be causing emails to be pending in defer status in (EOP)
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Please post instructions on how to disable this feature before it is implemented.

Clutter could have cost us serious money if it wasn't for one eagle-eyed employee.

All our emails are important.

I am not allowing this farce again.

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Will there be a way for an individual user to switch this off without the admin doing it? Not everyone will want this.
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Just to counterbalance the other comments: I work in a less centrally controlled organization where I, and other users, have been using Focused Inbox in Outlook on our Android and iOS devices for months. The availability of a combination of a combined inbox for all accounts (I have six), and having Focused Inbox operate on the combined inbox has been the greatest sanity saver I have had in over 30 years of dealing with very high mail volumes. It frustrates me no end that (apparently) because my Outlook is tied to an Office 365 account, I cannot apparently turn on Focused Inbox in Windows Outlook, even as an Office 365 administrator. I realize that the iOS and Android apps were obtained by purchasing another company, and that their full functionality may not have been incorporated into Outlook, but it seems silly and rude that a functionality that has long been available in your free software is not available in either the front-end Outlook software or the back-end server that we pay for! Please tell me that I have missed something, and there is some workaround for this, and that there is some way, presumably implemented on the Outlook client, that does what I do in iOS and Android, that is, gives me a combined inbox across several Office 365 mail accounts and several more IMAP account, and applies Focused Inbox filtering to the combined box.
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Why can't you make these features disabled by default instead of forcing it on everyone? Admins can then enable per user when, and if, they think it is appropriate to use. Clutter was a disaster IMO. I had to tell users to check their spam quarantines AND check their clutter folders if they couldn't find an email. This is all assuming they knew they had a missing email. Most people don't know they have a missing email so it goes days before they discover it and never fail, the email that was in the clutter folder was super important. Ugh! I ended up disabling it for everyone just to stop the insanity.

So now here we go again. I'm sure some important email is going to get sent to the "Other" tab and get missed for days. I will be disabling as soon as it is released and enable only if it makes sense. (i.e. after testing it out)

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So how will this work for customers using other mail clients like the standard mail app on iOS? Will everything start being dumped back into the Inbox now? If so that's a bad trade-off for all my users who have trained Clutter and don't have to deal with unimportant emails in their Inbox every day. Telling them they have to start using the Outlook app is not a solution, btw.
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This should be an opt in feature, not an opt out one.

It is not needed and I shouldn't have to have to disable it manually for all users!

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+1
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I manage the installation and tech support for a small charity - and we all volunteer our time. I now have a choice of spending a long time trying to understand the implications of this change and then briefing everyone about it, or spending even longer trying to figure out if I can change how it behaves and then doing that.

Clutter was NOT supposed to be on by default, but it was.

I'm happy that some may find this useful but I fully agree that if anything is going to be removed from my SINGLE inbox then I want to be in control, not some anonymous algorithm that has no idea how I work or whom I correspond with.

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"email will be split between the Focused and Other tabs in their inbox..." Tabs? in my inbox? What tabs? My Outlook 2013 doesn't have any tabs that I know of. We have some users who are still on Outlook 2010. Is there a minimum Outlook version to support "tabs"? What happens to user's who have Focused mailbox enabled but are using a version of Outlook that doesn't support tabs?
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It's not the changes that bother me, it's that it occurs so quickly and on by default. After many emails and running Ps scripts to disable clutter, some users finally understand what it does. Most just are mad "IT" changed their Outlook folders and half their email went somewhere else. I had no control over this until AFTER it was turned on for the whole tenant. I should as a admin be able to control when and how this rolls out. How am I supposed to prepare users and higher ups when it just shows up one day without warning ? So, fine add new features and replace old ones, but let me control it so we don't waste our time and our money fixing things.
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full agree! this behaviour by MS is unbearable, makes admins look bad and thus new features with such impact for the end user should be changed to opt in only.
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Why hasn't the Exchange team responded to any comments?

I, for one, am really looking forward to this feature but I agree with everyone that's saying this should be off by default.

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That's really bad news. Clutter is a great feature but the Focused Inbox as know from the Android Outlook client is absolute terrible!
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it would be precise, great
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I am glad for new features like this, it's one of the advantages of having a cloud-hosted infrastructure. If I didn't want new features, I would stay with old software on-prem. Company admins do need to stay on top of these changes and Microsoft needs to clearly communicate when features are coming, how we will be impacted, and how to administer.

Timing is good on this since I am planning a move of 8,000 users from Office 2013 MSI to Office 365 ProPlus.

1. I am moving users in phases. Is there a way to enable Focus just for the users moving to ProPlus. I would like to introduce Focus as a feature in the rollout.

2. If I enable for all users, what will the experience be like for those still on 2013?