A method and apparatus for prioritizing a plurality of incoming electronic mail messages for a user uses a user created and modified rules-control (12) which is stored in a rules-store (12). Incoming messages are stored in a message store (11) and are screened individually by a rules test unit (13). The rules-test unit has a comparator (52) which matches keywords which are chosen by the user while creating the rules, add supplies signals to an action list unit (54). By applying the user created rules for deciding which messages constitute the priority messages for the user, a priority assigning unit (45) within an action portion (35B) of the rules-store (12) assigns a priority number (say from 1 to 5, 1 being the highest priority for example) to each screened message. Responsive to the assigned priority number of the screened message, the message is sent to a main folder store or forwarded or put away as appropriate. The user created rules can be modified by the user using a conventional keyboard.