differenceThe arrival of the new Clutter feature in Microsoft Office365 back in July 2015 caused a certain amount of confusion, and even now there is much discussion over the difference between Clutter and Junk. It’s about time we set the record straight and answered all those burning Clutter questions.

What’s the difference between Clutter and Junk?

Microsoft created the Junk folder to protect users from dangerous spam. Clutter is instead designed to help you keep your inbox tidier, and its rules are influenced by your personal usage habits. Think of Junk and Clutter as exactly what their names suggest; Junk is rubbish to be disposed of, whereas Clutter is mess that needs to be tidied away.

Does Clutter work automatically like Junk?

Clutter is automatically enabled for all mailboxes just like Junk, but the way it processes emails is slightly different. The rules that automatically sort emails into Junk are generic for all users, whereas Clutter’s processing is based on your personal behaviour signals. For example, if you manually move an email to the Clutter folder, this will be taken as a signal to move similar messages to Clutter too; but replying to an email is an indication that the email is not Clutter, and future emails from the sender are likely to remain in the inbox.

Is Clutter or Junk best for managing unwanted emails?

Both are very valuable tools, but Junk is designed to protect you against threats to your PC, whereas Clutter helps you to sift through unimportant emails, such as marketing or newsletter subscriptions.

Is Clutter as useful as Junk?

Since Junk is influenced by Microsoft’s known spam collection, it does a very good job of filtering out unwanted emails, though a few can slip through the net from time to time. Clutter can be just as effective in managing your unimportant emails, but when first enabled it needs time to take signals from your behaviour in order to make smart decisions, so you may have to monitor the folder regularly for a few weeks.

Junk is a valuable feature for all email users because nobody really wants spam in their inbox. Clutter, on the other hand, may not be as valuable for all. For example, those who use a mailbox solely for important emails and never subscribe to mailing lists will likely not have any use for Clutter, and leaving it turned on could result in important emails accidentally being moved from the inbox and subsequently missed.

Where can I find the Clutter and Junk folders?

You’ll find both Clutter and Junk on the left hand panel of your mailbox, underneath the ‘Folders’ heading. You can click and hold the folder names to drag them up and down the list, or to move them into another folder, where they will become a sub-folder. To turn Clutter on or off, you must visit the Outlook Web App, click the Gear icon, Options, Automatic Processing, Clutter, then select whether or not to ‘separate items identified as Clutter’ before clicking Save.

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