Guest Author - Chris Curtis
Using categories is a great way to keep your Outlook environment well organized without creating a myriad of folders. By using categories, you can keep all of the items in one folder but group like items together by category (except for email items). Once the categories have been assigned you can also find, sort, and filter items by category. For example: You may have a collection of email (sent and received), contacts, tasks, appointments and notes all relating to the same project. With categories, you can pull them all together to look at the big picture.
The Master Category
Outlook contains a default Master Category List to which you can add your own categories to suit your personal needs. You can find the Master Category List under the Edit/Category menu command. Use the Master Category button in the Category window to add and remove categories in the Master Category list. When you remove a category from the Master Category list, the items that have been assigned to the category remain unchanged. You can continue to group those items using the deleted category.
A good practice is to assign one or more categories to your Outlook item by selecting the category from the Master Category list. You could simply type a category in the category field of your item, but most likely you will not refer to the category in the same manner for each item thus defeating the purpose of using them.
For example, the first item you want to categorize, you type MS Office. A few days later, you have new item for that same category. This time you type, Microsoft Office. Outlook interprets this as a NEW category.
Using the Master Category List assures consistency and avoids misspelling.
Assigning Categories to Items
You can assign one or more category to any type of Outlook item. With the exception of the email message form, you will see a Category field and button on every Outlook form. To assign categories to email items, you must go to the email options to find the category field.
To assign categories during the creation of the item, click on the Category button on the form (or Options button on an email item) and check off all categories in the Master Category list that apply; then click on OK. Open any existing item and proceed as described above to add a category after creation.
You can assign categories to multiply items in a list. Select all items to which you want to assign the same categories. Right click on the blue selection, and select Categories from the shortcut menu. Check all categories that apply; then click on OK.
Remove Categories from Items
Open the item from which you want to remove the category. Click on the Category button and remove the selection check mark from the category you want to remove. You can remove categories from multiple items in a list by pre-selecting the group of items; selecting Categories from the right click shortcut menu; deselecting the categories you want to remove; then, clicking on OK.
Find All Items
Use the Advanced Find command from the Edit menu to find all items in a category. In the Advanced Find dialog box:
- Choose “Any Type of Outlook Item” from the dropdown for the Look For field
- Verify Personal Folders is displayed in the In: Field, Outlook will look in all folders you have in your personal folders. You can click on browse to narrow your search to selected folders.
- Click on the More Choices tab
- Click on the Category button
- Select the Category(s) you want to find
- Click on OK
All items with the category you selected will appear in the Find window. You can open them to see the detail by double clicking on the item you want to open.
You are able to save your search to be retrieved at a later time. Click on File/Save Search, choose the folder in which you want to store the search, give the search a file name and click on Save. The type of file should be Office Saved Searches and the file will carry an .oss file extension. To open a saved search, click on File/Open Search, locate the search you want to open, select it and click on OK. During the Open event, Outlook will execute a new search based on the criteria set in the saved search.
Printing ALL Items in a Category
After executing the search, you can print all items found. Select all the files in the search window (Edit/Select All or by using a mouse selection). Right click on the blue selection area and choose print from the shortcut menu.
Choose the print style you would like:
- Table Style prints only the list of items found
- Memo Style prints the content of the items
Choose other print options as needed; then, click on the print button to send the document to the printer.
If you are an active Outlook user and use most of the features beyond email, consider using categories to keep your Outlook items organized.