web analytics

How to Use Categories to Get More Organized in Outlook

Let’s take a closer look at how to customize and use categories to organize your inbox.

Step 1. Rename a Category

By default, the categories are named by color. To rename a category click the down arrow to the right of the Categorize icon. From the drop-down menu select All Categories. The Color Categories dialog box appears:

You can color code your messages in Outlook to organize them.

Place a checkmark next to the color you want to rename and click the Rename button. Type over the default name of the category to rename it. Click the OK button when you’re done renaming the categories.

Here’s an example of some renamed categories:

Name each color category to organize your Outlook inbox

Your own custom categories may be different.

Step 2. Delete a Category

After you’ve customized your categories you may find that you’re not using all of them. If that happens, you can delete the unused category.

To delete a category, click on the All Categories option in the Categories drop-down menu. The Color Categories dialog box opens:

You can delete Outlook color categories that you don’t use.

Click the checkbox next to the color you want to delete. In the example above, I’m deleting the Orange category because I’m not using it. Click the Delete button.

When a prompt appears asking you to confirm the deletion click Yes. When you’re done making changes to the categories click OK. The Orange category no longer appears on the Categorize drop-down menu and you won’t be able to apply it to an email message.

Step 3. Apply a Category to a Message

Once you’ve customized your categories, you’re ready to start applying them to messages in your inbox. To apply a category to a message, click on the message to select it. Click on the Categorize icon. The Categorize drop-down menu displays:

Use the Categorize drop-down menu to apply categories to email and organize your inbox.

Click the category you want to apply to the selected message. The category is applied to the message. You’ll see the category color as a square to the right to message sender in your inbox. In the body of the message itself it appears below the sender name. 

Here’s an example of an inbox with categories applied to all the messages: 

With categories applied to your messages you can tell at a glance what to do with each email.

A message may have more than one category applied to. To apply an additional category to a message, select the message and click on another category in the Categorize drop-down menu.

Step 4. How to Remove a Category from a Message or Change It

Over time, the category of a message may change. You can remove a category from a message or change it. Here’s what to do.

To remove the category from a message, click on the message in your inbox to select it. Click the Categorize icon. From the drop-down menu, click on the category that is currently applied to the email to remove it:

You can remove an assigned category from an email.

You can apply a new category to the message from the Categorize drop-down menu or leave it uncategorized.

To remove all the categories from at once from an email message that has more than one category, select the message and click the Clear All Categories option from the Categorize drop-down menu: 

Use the Clear All Categories option to remove all the categories from an email with more than one assigned category.