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rulesHead I have been using Outlook as my email client for many many moons now. It is not just because I am required to for my job – I really like it and I have got it to the point where it is a help to my work and not a hindrance.

Today I am going to show how I use Outlook rules to restart my computer remotely or to shut down my system if need be.

In all actuality I have created many rules over the years and would like to show them to you – who knows maybe they will be as helpful to you as they are to me.


First let’s look at creating a rule in Outlook:

how to restart my computer remotely

Here you can see the rules window. You can get there by hitting Tools – Rules and Alerts.

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how to shut down my computer remotely

If you already have any rules created they will be here. A rule is simply a law on your computer that states when a message arrives with a specific subject, comes from a specific account or any of the other rules, a specific action will be taken. People use these to setup auto-forwards or automated responses. I use these to take actions on my computer.

My first rule shuts down my system and the second one restarts the system. After you start creating the rule hit the Start from a blank rule radio box. This gives us the most flexibility.

rule3

Next select Check messages when they arrive. This will scan only incoming messages for your rules. Obviously if you want to be slick you can have things happen when other people send messages on your machine. You can really achieve automation with these rules!

rule4

To be on the safe side – ie: not have someone else send me a keyword and have my Outlook jump through hoops for them as well – we want to make sure that the rules are only processed if they come from my account that I have specified for this.

rule5

Next up I hit the specific keywords link and I specify my keyword(s). In this case I used the key word – SecretKeyWord. This is case sensitive and the email’s subject would have to have SecretKeyWord in the subject just like that. Then that will trigger our Action which you will see shortly.

rule6

Our action is going to run a batch file so we choose start an application. You will need to create a batch file for each action. For example to shutdown the computer your batch file (a text file saved with the .bat extension) would have this line and only this line in it:

shutdown ““s ““t 00

and to create the same rule that restarts the computer just use this command:

shutdown ““r ““t 00

rule7

When an email arrives with SecretKeyWord in the subject the batch file will be launched and the machine will be restarted – blamo just like that!

You can create any batch file or even start an application on your machine with parameters. The possibilities are endless! Let us know how you use rules in the comments!

  1. jlo
    January 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    how would you pass a parameter from the email subject to the app starting?

  2. PeterD
    July 22, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I think I am being dumb here, how can a PC that is shutdown not only download an email but also run a batch file. I really want to be able to do this but am I missing a point?

    • Corey
      July 26, 2009 at 2:47 am

      I think his wording is a little misleading on this one. You obvious can't shutdown THEN restart a computer with Outlook. You can either shutdown OR restart the computer. If a computer is powered off the only way to turn it on is to have wake-on-lan active and send the computer a "magic packet" which turns it on.

    • PeterD
      August 4, 2009 at 7:07 am

      Thanks Corey, that explains that

    • Will Robinson
      August 6, 2009 at 9:57 am

      No offense Corey, but even that's wrong. If a computer is powered off then the only way to turn it on is by physically turning it on (if it has no power then it wouldn't be able to detect lan let alone turn itself on). I'm sure you were referring to hibernation or stand-by.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      August 6, 2009 at 10:04 am

      Will he is talking about Wake On Lan that allows for this to happen. WOL google it.

  3. Moe
    July 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Is there a way to add a command that OUtlook should first shutdown as not to mess up the PST Files?

  4. Jeff
    July 21, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I believe that it should read as follows for a restart:
    shutdown –r –t 00

    You can see all of the shut down options by using:
    shutdown /?

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      July 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      You are correct Jeff.

  5. PeterD
    July 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Karl, can you explain a little how the start up works, it sounds like a great idea but I cant work out how it would work.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      July 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm

      So the deal is you setup rules with batch files before hand when you want to launch the abtch file on your computer you send an email with the keywords it triggers the application and blamo it works.

  6. Psyfon
    July 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    The rules to both shutdown and restart are the same?

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      July 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

      Ouch the restart command is shutdown –r –t 00 sorry about the typo - can we get that fixed Mark?

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