Create and assign color categories

Color categories allow you to easily identify and group associated items in Microsoft Outlook. Assign a color category (color category: A keyword or phrase with an associated color that helps you keep track of items, such as messages, contacts, and appointments. You can use color categories to easily find, sort, filter, or group items.) to a group of interrelated items — such as notes, contacts, appointments, and e-mail messages — so that you can quickly track and organize them. You can also assign more than one color category to items.

Choose from a set of default categories or create your own, and then assign the categories to your Outlook items.

What do you want to do?


Learn more about color categories

Color adds visibility to your Outlook items. After you associate a color with a color category and then assign the color category to different yet related items, the items are easier to identify and organize. For example, you can keep track of all the meetings, contacts, and messages for the Morris project when you create a category named Morris Project and assign items to it.

Color categories in Calendar

Color categories connect related Outlook items for easy identification. Here, with the color category displayed in the header of an open item and in the Calendar, you can see that both items pertain to the Morris Project.

Color categories are prominently displayed in table (table: A view type that displays a list of items (rows) and their attributes (columns). Use this view to display details about items. Table is the default view type for Inbox and Tasks.) views, such as your Inbox, and within the open items themselves. The default set of six color categories is designed to be customized. You can rename the categories to something more meaningful to you or choose different colors for the categories. Beyond these six, you can create as many more color categories as you need, and you can assign multiple color categories to items as well. This flexibility enables you to design a color category system that fits your personal work style.

View Color Categories in your Inbox

Color categories enable you to quickly scan and locate related items.

You can also choose a Quick Click category (Quick Click category: A default color category that is assigned to an item when you click the Categories column for the item in your Inbox or other table view. You set this color category from the Categorize menu.) that allows you to click only once in your Inbox or other table view to assign a default color category to a Microsoft Outlook item. Find out more in Assign a Quick Click category below.

To make finding your categorized mail items easier, a Categorized Mail Search Folder has been added to Search Folders in the Navigation Pane (Navigation Pane: The column on the left side of the Outlook window that includes panes such as Shortcuts or Mail and the shortcuts or folders within each pane. Click a folder to show the items in the folder.) and provides a view of all your categorized mail items. Within this folder, you can sort and group the categorized items. You can also create additional Category Search Folders for specific categories.

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Create a new color category

Although you can use and customize the six default color categories, you may need to create new ones while you continue to organize your items. The properties that you can apply to any category are color, name, and shortcut key.

  1. On the toolbar, click Categorize Button image.
  2. Click All Categories.

Color Category menu

  1. Click New.

The Add New Category dialog box opens.

Add New Category dialog box

  1. In the Name box, type a name for the new color category.
  2. Click the arrow next to Color, click the color that you want, and then click OK.

Choosing a shortcut key is optional.

 Note   If you want to create a color category without a color assigned to it, click None in the color palette. Then the category will apply a name (and a shortcut key if you choose) to items, and you can sort and group the items according to the category. The items also will be available in the appropriate Category Search Folder.

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Choose a color for a color category

When you assign a color category to an item, a color is automatically associated with that item. Whether for a default color category or one that you created, you can change the color for a category at any time.

 Notes 

  • If you change a color category that is already assigned to items, then all of the items that have that category assigned are updated to the new color.
  • If you want to have a color category without a color assigned to it, click None in the color palette. Then the category will apply a name (and a shortcut key if you choose) to items, and you can sort and group the items according to the category. The items also will be available in the appropriate Category Search Folder.

Color Categories dialog box with color palette

  1. On the toolbar, click Categorize Button image.
  2. Click All Categories.
  3. In the Name list, click the category whose color you want to change.
  4. Click the arrow next to Color, and then click the color that you want.

If you don't want to associate any color with the category, click None.

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Rename a color category

The default color categories (color category: A keyword or phrase with an associated color that helps you keep track of items, such as messages, contacts, and appointments. You can use color categories to easily find, sort, filter, or group items.) have generic names, such as Red Category and Blue Category. To easily identify and organize your categorized items, you can rename the color categories by using names that are meaningful to you.

 Note   If you change a color category that is already assigned to items, all of the items that have that category assigned are updated to the new name.

  1. On the toolbar, click Categorize Button image.
  2. Click All Categories.

Color Category menu

  1. In the Name list, click the name of a color category, and then click Rename.
  2. In the Name list, type the new name for the color category.

 Notes 

  • To automatically assign the color category that you are renaming to items that are selected in the main Microsoft Outlook window, select the check box next to the color category in the Name list, and then click OK.
  • The first time that you assign an existing color category to an item, you are prompted to rename the color category.

Assign a color category to an Outlook item

A color category must be listed in the color category list before you can assign it. If the color category is not listed, you can simultaneously create a new color category and assign it to an item.

 Note   The first time that you assign a default color category to an item, you are prompted to rename the category. At that time, you can also change the color of the category, rename it, and choose a keyboard shortcut.

What do you want to do?


Assign a color category to an item in a table view

Assigning color categories to items in your Inbox or other table (table: A view type that displays a list of items (rows) and their attributes (columns). Use this view to display details about items. Table is the default view type for Inbox and Tasks.) views is similar for all types of Outlook items.

 Note   Assigning color categories in a card view in Contacts (such as Business Cards view) or Icons view in Notes is the same as assigning color categories in table view.

  • To assign a color category, do one of the following:
    • Select the item, click CategorizeButton image on the toolbar, and then click a color category.
    • Right-click the item, point to Categorize Button image on the shortcut menu, and then click a color category.

Only the 15 most recently used color categories appear on the Categorize menu. To see more categories or to create a new category, click All Categories. To assign a color category from the Color Categories dialog box, you must select the check box next to the color category.

 Tip   The Color Categories dialog box is also a quick way to assign multiple categories to an item.

 Notes 

  • In timeline views such as those offered in Tasks and Journal, the only way to assign a color category to the item is by using the shortcut menu method described above.
  • For Journal view, the Categorize button is not displayed on the toolbar by default. To add this button, on the Tools menu, click Customize. On the Commands tab, in the Categories list, click Actions. In the Commands list, click Categorize and drag it to the toolbar where you want it to appear.

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Assign a color category to an open item

Assigning color categories to open items such as a contact form (contact form: A view of an individual contact that contains all the information stored in the contact.) or calendar appointment varies slightly from item type to item type (except for Notes, which do not use the basic Outlook item form). If in doubt, look for CategorizeButton image on the Ribbon, which is part of the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface. Click Categorize to make the color categories available to you.

Only the 15 most recently used color categories appear on the Categorize menu. To see more categories or to create a new category, click All Categories on the menu. To assign a color category from the Color Categories dialog box, you must select the check box next to the color category.

Do any of the following:

    Assign a color category to an open message

On the Message tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.

    Assign a color category to an open contact

On the Contact tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.

    Assign a color category to an open calendar appointment or meeting request

You cannot assign a color category to or change a color category for individual occurrences of a recurring appointment or meeting, but only the entire recurring series.

Do one or both of the following:

  • For an open appointment    On the Appointment tab or the Recurring Appointment tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.
  • For an open meeting request    On the Meeting tab or the Recurring Meeting tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.

    Assign a color category to an open task

On the Task tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.

 Note   If you open an item type other than a task from your To-Do List in Tasks, such as a message or a contact, the Categorize button will be located in the Options group for that specific item type.

    Assign a color category to an open note

  1. In the note, click Note Button image.
  2. Point to Categorize, and then click a color category.

 Note   If you assign a color category to a note, the note takes on the color associated with the category, overriding the default color of the note.

    Assign a color category to an open Journal item

On the Journal Entry tab, in the Options group, click Categorize Button image, and then click a color category.

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Assign a color category to a meeting or appointment in the Calendar

You can also assign color categories to meetings and appointments directly in your Outlook Calendar.

 Note   You cannot assign a color category to or change a color category for individual occurrences of a recurring appointment or meeting, but only the entire recurring series.

  • In the Calendar, right-click the meeting or appointment, point to Categorize Button image on the shortcut menu, and then click a color category.

Only the 15 most recently used color categories appear on the Categorize menu. To see more categories or to create a new category, click All Categories. To assign a color category from the Color Categories dialog box, you must select the check box next to the color category.

 Tip   The Color Categories dialog box is also a quick way to assign multiple categories to an item.

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Assign a color category to an item in the To-Do Bar

Assigning a color category to an item in the To-Do Bar is the same procedure as assigning a color category in table views.

  • To assign a color category, do one of the following:
    • Select the item, click CategorizeButton image on the toolbar, and then click a color category.
    • Right-click the item, point to Categorize Button image on the shortcut menu, and then click a color category.

Only the 15 most recently used color categories appear on the Categorize menu. To see more categories or to create a new category, click All Categories. To assign a color category from the Color Categories dialog box, you must select the check box next to the color category.

 Tip   The Color Categories dialog box is also a quick way to assign multiple categories to an item.

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Assign a color category to multiple items

In message lists (message list: The middle part of the main Outlook window that displays the contents of the selected folder.) such as your Inbox or in other table (table: A view type that displays a list of items (rows) and their attributes (columns). Use this view to display details about items. Table is the default view type for Inbox and Tasks.) views, you can assign a color category to multiple items at the same time.

  1. In a table view, select the items that you want to assign the color category to:
    • To select multiple items that are next to each other in the list, click the first item, and then hold down the SHIFT key while you click the last item.
    • To select multiple items that are not next to each other, hold down the CTRL key while you click each of the items.
  2. Right-click the selection, point to Categorize on the shortcut menu, and then click a color category.

To see more color categories or to create a new color category, click All Categories to display the Color Categories dialog box.

If you assign a color category from the Color Categories dialog box instead of the Categorize menu, you must select the check box next to the color category.

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Assign a Quick Click category

Setting a Quick Click category allows you to click only once in your Inbox or other table (table: A view type that displays a list of items (rows) and their attributes (columns). Use this view to display details about items. Table is the default view type for Inbox and Tasks.) view to assign a default color category (color category: A keyword or phrase with an associated color that helps you keep track of items, such as messages, contacts, and appointments. You can use color categories to easily find, sort, filter, or group items.) to a Microsoft Outlook item. You select any one color category as your current Quick Click category, and you can change your selection whenever you want to. This feature can be especially helpful if you usually focus on one main project, or if you frequently assign categories such as Important or Review Immediately.

First, you set one color category as the current Quick Click category, and name it in a way that indicates its purpose or task. Then you can quickly assign that color category to all related messages, contacts, appointments, and other items. You can also assign the current Quick Click category to multiple items at the same time. The assigned color category appears in the Categories column and also within the item itself.

What do you want to do?


Categories column in Inbox

After you set a frequently used color category as your Quick Click category, you can click the Categories column to assign that category to an item.

Set or change the current Quick Click category

  1. On the toolbar, click Categorize Button image, and then click Set Quick Click.
  2. In the Set Quick Click dialog box, in the list, click a color category.

 Notes 

  • Changing to a different Quick Click category does not change the color category already assigned to any item. However, if you change the name or color of any color category, all of the items that have that color category assigned are updated to reflect the new name or color.
  • You can also set your current Quick Click category from the Categorize menu in any open item.

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Assign a Quick Click category to an item

You can assign a Quick Click category to most Outlook items when you view them in a table view, such as your Inbox, or in the To-Do Bar.

  • In your Inbox or other table view, click the Categories column next to a message. This adds the color associated with your Quick Click category to the column. If you open the item, the color and the name of the color category appear near the top of the item.

 Notes 

  • You can remove the Quick Click category by simply clicking the Categories column again.
  • You can assign a Quick Click category to multiple items at the same time. Just select all of the items, and then click the Categories column next to one of the items.

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Assign a shortcut key to a color category

By associating a keyboard shortcut key with a color category (color category: A keyword or phrase with an associated color that helps you keep track of items, such as messages, contacts, and appointments. You can use color categories to easily find, sort, filter, or group items.), you can quickly assign the color category to an item, such as an e-mail message, by selecting the item in your Inbox or another table (table: A view type that displays a list of items (rows) and their attributes (columns). Use this view to display details about items. Table is the default view type for Inbox and Tasks.) view and then pressing the shortcut key. You can also use the shortcut key to assign a color category to multiple items at the same time.

  1. On the toolbar of the main Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 window, click Categorize Button image.
  2. At the bottom of the menu, click All Categories.
  3. In the Name list, select the check box for a color category.
  4. In the Shortcut Key list, choose a keyboard shortcut.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007