Using Outlook Custom Categories: Creating, Managing & Organizing Microsoft Outlook 2007 Custom Categories Tip #21

Using Outlook Custom Categories: Creating, Managing & Organizing Microsoft Outlook 2007 Custom Categories Tip #21
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Creating Custom Categories

One of the more powerful user-controlled features of Outlook 2007 lies in the ability to categorize content. Outlook uses color coded categories as labels or tags on messages, calendar items, contacts and more.

The multi-colored Categorize button from the Outlook ribbon is shown in Figure 1. Categories can be given custom names and specific colors. They can also be assigned custom shortcut keys. Figure 2 shows a color palette for creating a new category while Figure 3 lists shortcut keys available to assign to a category.

To create a new category, select an item in Outlook, like an email, which enables the category button. Click the Category button and select All Categories to get the category list shown in Figure 4. From here, select the New button. Assign a friendly descriptive name and associate a color if desired [See Figure 2]. You can also assign a shortcut key here. Figure 4 shows the list of categories created on this client.


Figure2 - Category Colors

Using Custom Categories

The power of this feature does not come from assigning pretty colors to a category. It comes from how you can use categories to find, sort and manage content.

It is most common to apply categories to messages, but calendar items, contacts, Tasks, Journal entries, and even RSS Feed items. Categories can be used to create search folders, discovery, or even apply Outlook rules. Outlook rules can in turn be used to assign categories. Objects are also not limited to one category. Figure 5 shows an email with two categories assigned. They are represented by the colored bars across the top. Calendar items are also colored based on categories applied to them.

Search folders query the entire mailbox based on filter settings, including category. They are a great way to leverage the power of categories. Outlook even offers a quick method of creating search folders based on category. One of the options under the Category button is ‘Create category search folder’. This open the new search folder dialog window already at the categorized mail option.


Figure3 - Category Shortcut Keys

Figure4 - Category List

Figure5 - Categorized Message

This post is part of the series: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 Tips

A series of Tips and Tricks for working with Microsoft Outlook 2007 both as a user and an administrator.

  1. New E-mail Account Configuration in Microsoft Outlook: Tip #1
  2. Use AutoComplete “Nickname” Cache in Outlook: Tip #2
  3. Configure Outlook Custom Message Views: Tip #3
  4. How to Configure RSS Feeds in Outlook: Tip #4
  5. Tip #5 - Making Changes to the Custom Dictionary in Microsoft Outlook 2007
  6. Tip #6 - Configure Outlook Autosave Settings
  7. Microsoft Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts: Tip #7
  8. Microsoft Outlook 2007 Tip #8 - Outlook.exe Startup Switches
  9. Microsoft Outlook Instant Messenger Addons: #9
  10. Tip #10 - Using Outlook 2007 to Access GMail
  11. Showing Full Message Headers in Microsoft Outlook 2007: Tip #11
  12. How to Re-Send an E-mail Message in Outlook: Tip #12
  13. How to View Animated GIFs Embedded in an E-mail in Microsoft Outlook 2007: Tip #13
  14. Telling Outlook How to Handle Messages: Tip #14
  15. Microsoft Outlook 2007 Tip #15 - How to Color Code the Task List in the To Do Bar
  16. Tip #16 - Importing from Incredimail to Microsoft Outlook 2007
  17. Viewing Multiple Outlook Calendars: Tip #17
  18. Removing Cancelled Future Appointments in Microsoft Outlook 2007: Tip #18
  19. Tip #19: How to Create New Outlook E-mail from the Command Line
  20. How to Configure Outlook AutoArchiving: Tip #20
  21. Using Custom Categories in Microsoft Outlook 2007: Tip #21
  22. How to Manage Outlook Add-ins: Tip #21
  23. Microsoft Outlook 2007 Tip #23 - Attachment Previewing Options