Managing Focused Inbox in Office 365 and Outlook
Published Oct 14 2016 11:00 AM 143K Views

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


  • 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.
Version history
Last update:
‎Jul 01 2019 04:28 PM
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