Why should you use Categories in Microsoft Outlook Tasks and Calendars?

Apr 6, 2023 | Outlook Hints and Tips

Categories are a much overlooked feature in Outlook and can make a huge difference to your productivity if utilised in the right way for your needs.  It can be used in most areas of Outlook but not the To Do app.  The To Do app is rolling out to Microsoft 365 clients at the time of writing and will not be available to other Outlook users.  Here we will look at how it can be used in the Calendar and Tasks.  Categories allow your information to be tagged which can make the information easier to find or stand out from all your other entries.

Configuring Categories

The first thing to do is configure the categories.  By default they are given colour name such as category red and category blue but these should be renamed to make them relevant to how you will be using them.  Examples of uses of categories include defining project being worked on or types of work being carried out but there are many, many other possibilities.  The categories created are the same across all parts of Outlook

There are several places where categories can be configured but anywhere you see the category icon will work.

  1. Open up the calendar entry or task
  2. Click on the Categorize icon
Categorize icon image

3. Select All Categories

4. New categories can be added.  There are 25 different colours than can be categorised

Color categories image

5. Existing categories in the list can be renamed

6. Categories no longer required can be deleted

7. A Colour and Shortcut can be assigned.  The shortcut is not required but can make it quicker to assign the category.  There are 11 shortcuts available which are CTRL plus the function keys from 1 to 12

8. Click OK when all the changes have been made

Categories in the Calendar

Categories in the calendar can be used to colour code your calendar appointments and meeting making it easier to see what type of event is coming up at a glance.  They can also be used to facilitate searching.

Calendar image
  1. Open the appointment or meeting already created.  This can also be done at the point where the meeting is produced
  2. Click on the Categorize icon and select the category to apply
  3. This process can be repeated if a calendar entry needs to be allocated to more than 1 category

The calendar entry will be viewed in this colour.  If multiple categories have been assigned the colour showing will be the last one assigned.  If a search on the category is carried out then the results are shown in a list.

Categories in Tasks

Categorised tasks show up as a small coloured bar in the task entry.  This is not as obvious as the colour coding in calendars.  The category can also be used to search.  The steps to apply categories are exactly the same as for the calendar.

Tasks image
  1. Open the task already created.  This can also be done at the point where the task is produced
  2. Click on the Categorize icon and select the category to apply
  3. This process can be repeated if a task needs to be allocated to more than 1 category

Removing a Category

A category is removed in the same way it is applied, by selecting the category.  If the category has previously been assigned it will remove it.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about ​using Categories in Microsoft Outlook Tasks and Calendars, there are some other blogs below that you might find useful:

Want to learn more about Microsoft Outlook? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Microsoft Outlook Courses I run.