Microsoft is Getting Rid of Clutter in Outlook, and That’s Worrying


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At the tail-end of 2018, Microsoft announced that it would remove the Clutter feature from Outlook, leaving Focused Inbox to sieve out your less-important mail. We think that’s a potentially worrying change of direction for Microsoft.

Yes, on the one hand, you could argue that Focused Inbox competes directly with similar features offered by Gmail and that those only work in the Gmail client, so why not do it. But, you could also argue that, since Outlook has had both the Focused Inbox and Clutter features for a while (and they both have their advantages), there was no really good reason to ditch Clutter. So, let’s get into it.

What is the Clutter Feature?

We’ve covered the difference between Clutter and Focused Inbox before, but here’s a quick recap. Both Clutter and Focused Inbox are ways of splitting your incoming mail into “important” and “unimportant” mail. Important mail is anything from people in your company, your contacts, and anything else Microsoft’s algorithm deems valuable to you. Unimportant mail is not spam (that goes into the Junk folder) but is mail that is deemed less valuable or urgent—like regular emails from apps or websites.

Clutter and Focused Inbox use the same algorithm to determine if a mail is important or unimportant, but here’s the important part: Clutter is an entirely separate folder, whereas Focused Inbox is just a filtered view of your Inbox.

What this means is that Clutter physically moves an unimportant mail from your Inbox into a folder called “Clutter.”

The Clutter folder

Focused Inbox—which you can toggle on and off using a switch in the View tab—just changes your Inbox to show “Focused” and “Other” tabs.

The Focued Inbox tabs

Microsoft has now confirmed that Clutter will be gone by January 31st, 2020, leaving users with just Focused Inbox. That’s going to cause some users a lot of problems and doesn’t square with Microsoft’s supposed new approach under Satya Nadella.

Why Is Getting Rid of Clutter a Bad Thing?

Most Outlook users prefer Focused Inbox. Clutter was not particularly popular when it came out, and it took people a long time to get used to it. Focused Inbox uses the same algorithm, but allows people to keep…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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