Outlook: Top reasons you aren’t receiving an email message in your Inbox

Problem: An email message is not being delivered into the inbox, or, an email message is being delivered to another folder, the Junk Email folder or the Quarantine Server.

There are a variety of reasons that a message sent to you may not end up in your inbox.  The most common reasons are:

  1. Rules
  2. Focused Inbox
  3. Junk Email and Allow/Block Sender Lists
  4. Quarantine

1. Rules

A rule is an action that occurs automatically when sending or receiving messages. You can create rules to organize or delete messages automatically.  For example, you can create a rule to move all messages with "Buy now!" in the subject to the Deleted Items folder.  Because rules are easy to create in Outlook by doing a right-click, we have seen that some rules have been created inadvertently.  Review your rule list, in Outlook settings, to ensure they are not the cause of messages being mishandled.

Microsoft support on Rules

Screenshot of rules screen

2. Focused Inbox

Per Microsoft’s support site, Focused Inbox separates your inbox into two tabs — Focused and Other. Your most important emails are on the Focused tab while the rest remain easily accessible — but out of the way — on the Other tab. Focused Inbox is an option that can be turned on or off according to your email management preference.  Focused Inbox has nothing to do with Spam, it is strictly for making your inbox easier to sort through.

Microsoft support on Focused Inbox

Screenshot of focused inbox settings


Disable Focused Inbox for Outlook desktop app/web app

Students and faculty if you are missing email notifications from Canvas, we encourage you to turn off Focused Inbox. 

Outlook desktop app: Select the View tab​​​ > Select Show Focused Inbox and click it disable.
Outlook web app: Select Settings (gear icon top-right) > Click the toggle next to Focused Inbox to disable.

Microsoft Support on Focused Inbox

Disable Focused Inbox for Outlook Mobile app

To turn off Focused Inbox, go to Office 365 menu > Settings > tap the Focused Inbox off.


  1. Tap the Office 365 icon (upper-left corner)
    An image Outlook Mobile app, Office 365 options menu
  2. Tap Settings (gear icon), bottom-left.
    An image Outlook mobile app settings --- gear icon (bottom-left)
  3. Scroll down and tap Focused Inbox to disable.

    Focused Inbox Enabled and Disabled 

    Focused Inbox Enabled Focused Inbox Disabled
    An image Outlook mobile app settings --- Focused Inbox enabled An image Outlook mobile app settings --- Focused Inbox Disabled
  4. Tap the back arrow (upper-left) to return to your Inbox.
    An image Outlook mobile app settings --- tap arrow to return to Inbox
  5. Focused Inbox is disabled, and all messages will be received in your Inbox.
    An image Outlook mobile app settings --- Inbox without Focused Inbox enabled


3. Junk Email and Allow/Block Sender Lists

The Junk Email filter screens all messages that are delivered to your mailbox that have not been caught in quarantine (see below).  The Junk Email Options allow you to specify addresses to allow or block.  When a new message is delivered to your mailbox, the Junk Email filter scores it on a probability scale of being Spam and may be sorted into the Inbox or Junk Email folder.  If a message is received from an allowed address, the message is automatically sorted into the Inbox.  If a message is sent from an address on the block sender list the message will automatically be stopped in quarantine.  Instructions on adding addresses or domains to the safe sender list are on this page.

NOTE: If you were part of the email migration from Zimbra to Office 365 Outlook in 2016, you may have a Junk folder that had been migrated at that time.  This is different than the folder named Junk Email that is used by Outlook.  We suggest that you delete the folder named Junk as no new messages should be delivered to that old, Zimbra folder.

Screenshot of block or allow settings

4. Quarantine

The quarantine server sorts messages before they are delivered to SVSU mailboxes.  Messages caught by quarantine have scored high enough on a probability scale of being Spam or they have been sent from an address listed in a user’s Block Sender list.

This site has a thorough explanation of how the quarantine process works.

Many of the quarantine settings are controlled by Microsoft and are outside of our system admin’s control. 

There are many reasons that a message might score high enough to not be delivered.  One common reason that we have seen is because other people that receive messages from the system sending to you have marked the message as Spam.  This often occurs for newsletters or bulk mailings since it is easier to mark a message as Spam than it is to unsubscribe from the newsletter.  The Microsoft Quarantine is Microsoft-wide so there are a lot of people involved in the process.  It takes about 200 instances of marking a message as Spam for the Quarantine server to start catching it, it will then take 200 instances of marking as false positive for those messages to be delivered to a mailbox.

View related Knowledge Article.

Screenshot of quarantine settings


Article ID: 105019
Thu 4/9/20 4:15 PM
Wed 4/7/21 10:06 AM