Cool for categories

Arrange information the way you want using outlook categories - they're not just for dividing your contacts into 'work' and 'friends', you know.

Assigning addresses to categories in Outlook makes it easier to see a list of friends' addresses without any work contacts. This can be handy if you're printing wedding invitations. Most of the time, however, you'll be looking for one specific person. Typing their name into the "Find Contact" box is the fastest way to do so. But categories do have other uses.

Take rules, which you can use to organise messages as they arrive. As you subscribe to more mailing lists or begin projects, it's easy to build up lots of rules in Outlook. After a few years you'll have a long list of rules, most of which you don't need any more. Pruning old rules keeps things simple and saves Outlook wasting time trying rules that don't apply.

If a rule moves a message to a folder or flags it in a particular colour it's easy to see how often it's used. Either check in the folder or create a Search Folder for that colour flag - see FIGURE 1. To do this, right-click on Search Folders and choose New search folder-Create a custom search folder-Choose-Criteria-More choices-Only items which, then pick the flag colour.

Bending the rules

It's harder to work out how often rules that delete or forward messages, start applications or run scripts or alerts get used. To check, add an action to the rule assigning the messages it works with to a category - choose the "assign it to the 'category' category" rule action. Then use a Search Folder (or Tools-Find-Advanced Find in earlier versions of Outlook) to see how many messages end up in each category. That tells you how many messages trigger the rules, so you can delete the ones you never use.

If you forward any of those messages, they will still have the category attached to them, so make sure that these aren't revealing. Anyone who reads the message in Outlook will see the categorisation.

You can also use categories to print several messages at once, even if they're in different folders. Say you're going away and you've got messages about personal and business meetings in different folders. Assign them all to the New York Trip category, and you can use a Search Folder or Advanced Find to see them all. Use < Shift > - select or < Ctrl > - select to grab the ones you want and print them.

Categories can help you when picking contacts for a mail merge or for creating distribution lists that you don't have to remember to update.

Just add addresses to the right category and select it when you need to send a message to everyone. If you don't want to synchronise all your contacts to your PDA or smartphone, add a category called Mobile and use Options-Settings in ActiveSync to transfer details in that category only.

The path of list resistance

Categories let you see Notes and Tasks as more than a daunting list. They work with the Outlook Calendar too - add a Medical category to all your dental checkups and doctor's appointments, or a Sports category to your kids' football matches and you can use View-Arrange By Current View-By Category to get a list.

That's also an easy way to add a list of appointments that don't follow a regular pattern. Create the first event and assign a category to it, then copy and paste to get as many events as you need - see FIGURE 2. You only need to change the date. Use View-Arrange By-Current View-Day/Week/Month to get back to the normal view.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mary Branscombe

Mary Branscombe

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?