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Introduction to Categories in Outlook 2010

Organizing and keeping track of

Organizing and keeping track of email in Outlook 2010 can be a full time job especially if not performed on a regular basis. The most common reason people don’t keep email organized is the claim of lack of time to keep up with incoming email but with a little knowledge and the right tools an organized inbox is right around the corner.

A great feature of Outlook 2010 is the ability to assign categories to various Outlook items such as email messages, contacts and calendar entries. Categories are based on keywords that can be color-coded for easy reference and search capabilities. For example, the blue category can be for creating a to-do list while the red category is a follow-up.

Outlook 2010 comes with a standard list of categories that are labeled by the color of the category – so the color blue is the blue category and the color red is the red category. This list of categories, along with the colors, is completely customizable to suit anyone’s needs.

After Outlook items, such as email and contacts, have been assigned categories the items can be sorted and searched on these categories. For example, if a to-do category is created and assigned to specific emails then these emails can be grouped and displayed by this category. Another example for using categories is to group contacts by their relationship such as family, fried or co-worker.

Another great feature of categories is the ability to assign multiple categories to an Outlook item. This allows for more detailed tagging and organizing of email, contacts and calendar items. Instead of having to pick a specific “bucket” for an item, an item can be assigned to multiple categories and searched or retrieved on more than one category.

For frequently used categories, or any category for that matter, a shortcut key can be assigned to make it easier to assign the category to a specific item. For example, if there is a to-do category that is used all the time a shortcut key, such as CTRL+F2, can be used on a highlighted item to add the category. There are eleven shortcut key available for use.

Categories can be a great tool to help organize, sort and retrieve Outlook items based on a category or keyword. Stay tuned for the next article which detail how to use and customize categories in Microsoft Outlook 2010 for the war on organizing email.

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