ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Configuring and using Categories in Outlook 2007

Updated on December 28, 2012


Hi, and welcome to my latest hub on Outlook 2007. Today I will be looking at using categories to assist you in organising your mailbox by grouping similar mail items (emails, calendar entries and tasks) into colour coded categories. Categories work particularly well when used on a shared mailbox that is accessed by a team of people, but will also work very well with your own mailbox.

Categories make it very easy to differentiate mailbox items that you have categorised by looking at the coloured tags that Outlook will add automatically to emails, tasks and calendar items. You can also use the built in Outlook search folders to find categorised mail items.

In addition emails can be assigned to categories using rules, manually by right clicking on messages or calendar items and tasks or by using short cut keys. The picture below illustrates how emails, tasks and calendar items will appear with categories configured.

How categories will appear in Outlook 2007 once configured.
How categories will appear in Outlook 2007 once configured. | Source

Also, if an email is added to a category when you open the email it will have a coloured banner as shown below to illustrate that it belongs to a specific category.

How categories will be displayed within an email in Outlook 2007.
How categories will be displayed within an email in Outlook 2007. | Source

This hub has a sister site which covers in detail how to colour code emails based on the sender which works in a similar way to categories, but rather colours the actual email header. This is setup using rules and the hub detailing how to do it can be found here:

Configuring Categories

To begin working with categories, we need to create and configure our categories.

For my first example, imagine I manage a team who have a shared mailbox that users send requests for work to. When an email comes in, I want to be able to assign emails to one member of my team using a colour coded category. My team mates will come in and work on emails that are assigned their individual colours.

To begin with,

  • I click on the categorize button in the Outlook standard toolbar as shown below

How to access the categorise button in Outlook 2007.
How to access the categorise button in Outlook 2007. | Source
  • Then select All Categories
  • The next step is to either create new categories or rename the existing categories based on your needs
  • Rename the categories so that I have a category for each staff member
  • Select a shortcut key using the Shortcut Key drop down box
  • If you are not happy with the default colours, there are 25 colours available for you to choose from

NOTE: The maximum number of categories available is 25 (the number of colours available).

You can see from the picture below how my categories look when they are configured as I want them to look.

Configured categories in Outlook 2007.
Configured categories in Outlook 2007. | Source

We also need to ensure that the Categories field appears in your mail folders.

  • If you do not see it already, right click on the bar at the top of your email where it says From, Subject etc and select Field Chooser
  • Drag Categories onto the blue bar and position it where you would like it to sit

Using Categories

Now that I have my categories set up, I want to assign emails and tasks to my team. I will assign each email to a category (each category is mapped to a team member as above). There are two ways I can achieve this

  • Using the shortcut key assigned to each category
  • Right click on an email or task and selecting Categorize and select the appropriate group

NOTE: Calendar items and tasks can be categorised in exactly the same way.

Now suppose I want to find out easily exactly what work I have assigned to Bill. I have created tasks, calendar meetings and also emails and assigned them to Bill via his category.

  • To do this, select an item that has been categorised to Bill and right click and select Categorize and then Open “Bill” Search Folder
  • Outlook 2007 then creates a search folder
  • Right click on an email from each category and created a search folder for each in the same manner

As you can see below, in the Search Folders part of the Outlook Mail Folders, I now have a number of search folders created for each category. I can now quickly discover all items assigned to each of my categories.

Outlook 2007 showing search folders created for each category.
Outlook 2007 showing search folders created for each category. | Source

Using Categories with Rules

Using a rule, it is possible to automatically add specific emails to a category when the emails come in (or are sent if you so desire). Suppose I want to add all emails sent only to me from my manager to appear in a certain category called Manager and coloured red. To do this

  • First I create a category as above called Manager with red as the colour
  • Then go to the Tools menu and select Rules and Alerts
  • Next click New Rule
  • We want to start from a blank rule and select Check messages when they arrive
  • Select from people or distribution list and select your person of interest
  • Now, select assign it to the category and select your category of choice
  • Click through until you reach the Finish rule setup box
  • Give your rule a meaningful name and then select Run this rule now on messages already in “Inbox”

You should end up with a rule that looks similar to mine below.

Completed rule, created to add emails from a specific sender to a category in Outlook 2007.
Completed rule, created to add emails from a specific sender to a category in Outlook 2007. | Source

Now all emails that come in from my manager will be automatically be added to that category.

Removing categories from emails

So in my first example, once a team member has completed the work on an email they will need to remove or clear the category from the email. To do this, select the email in question, right click and select Categorize and then Clear All Categories. This will return the email back to having no category and also remove it from the search folder created for the category.


Using categories in Outlook 2007 allows you to colour code and group mail items either manually, or by utilising rules to automatically add mail items to categories. Once categorised, mail items can be easily searched for and grouped using custom created search folders. I hope that you enjoyed reading this hub and that you found the information useful and informative. Please feel free to leave a comment below.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)