Become a Power Organizer With Outlook Categories

If you find the amount of email you receive is overwhelming, then you aren’t alone. One way to get to grips with email, contacts, tasks and calendar items in Outlook is to organize everything using categories. Each category is represented by a colour so it is easy to recognize, find and track specific information. If you aren’t using categories you are missing out on a powerful organizational tool.

You will see the Categorize button on virtually every ribbon and toolbar in Outlook 2007/2010/2013.

1. Start by deciding what categories you want to use (projects, departments, do not delete, etc.)

What takes the most time when you have a dinner party? The planning! sobitech The same goes for Outlook categories. Take time to decide the best way to organize your information. You have 25 colours to work with. I guarantee it will be time well spent.

The same categories are used in each module of Outlook. If green represents Project A, you can attach this category to meetings, email, tasks and notes associated with that project.

2. Click on the Outlook item you want to give a category to

3. Click on Categorize in the ribbon, toolbar or right-click menu

You will see a list of colours and category names. If you haven’t assigned your own names to the colours they will simply say ‘Red Category’, ‘Blue Category’ etc. The first time you use a category you will be given an opportunity to change its name.

Don’t worry if you don’t give the category a name, or want to change it at some point in the future. This can be done by selecting All Categories from the Categorize button.

4. Choose a colour category

OK, so things look prettier now that you have added some colour, but how does that make you more organized? Categories allow you to find and track your Outlook items with ease.

Calendar: Change the view to see a list of your appointments arranged by category.

Outlook 2010 & 2013 Calendars:

View tab
Change View button
In the Arrangement group select Categories
Outlook 2007 Calendar:

View menu
Arrange By
Current View
By Category
You should now be looking at a list of calendar items that are organized by category.

Follow the steps above but choose Calendar to return to the default calendar view.

Mail and Tasks: Rearrange the list of email or tasks so they are arranged by category.

Click on Category in the bar above your list of messages/tasks to put your items into order according to their assigned categories. If the uncategorized items are at the top of the list, click on Category again to reverse the order. If you don’t see ‘Category’ listed at the top of your email, make your message pane wider. There may not be enough room to display all of the headings.
To return to the default view, click on Received in Mail and Date Completed in Tasks. If the newest items aren’t at the top, click on Received/Date Completed again to reverse the order.
TIP #1: There are different views available in all Outlook modules. You can even design your own views.

TIP #2: Create Search folders that look for categorized email for easy retrieval.

TIP #3: Save time by creating rules to automatically add categories to specific mail items.

TIP #4: Add more than one category to any item. If it is shared by Project A and Project B, add both. If you are viewing By Category it will show up in each of the category lists.

TIP #5: Create keyboard shortcuts for up to eleven of your categories. Your choices will be Ctrl + F2 through Ctrl + F12.

Find a Categorize button and click on it
Choose All Categories
Put a check mark on the category you want to add a shortcut to
Click on the button under Shortcut Key and choose a keystroke
TIP #6: The All Categories dialog box allows you to add, remove, delete, rename, create new and add shortcuts to categories. It also provides a quick way to add multiple categories to any Outlook item.

If you haven’t used categories before, give them a try. With a little thought and planning you can become an Outlook power organizer.

Reen Rose is an experienced Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Office Specialist Master.

She has been described as ‘focused, fun and very effective’. Reen believes in guiding people to become empowered Microsoft Office users by giving them the skills they need to be successful, in an engaging and enjoyable environment.

To find out more about Reen and the training and corporate services she offers, please visit her website

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