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How to add more color categories in Outlook?

Normally you may label messages, tasks, or others with color categories in Outlook, which help you identify them from a mass of items at a glance, and group/filter them together with same color categories quickly. In addition to one color categories, you can add as many color categories as you need to one item. Here is an easy tutorial to add many color categories for one message, one task, one appointment, and one note, as well as create new color categories in Outlook.

Add more color categories for a message, task, appointment, contact, or note

Add and create more new color categories in Outlook

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arrow blue right bubble Add more color categories for a message, task, appointment, contact, or note

The first section will show you how to add many color categories for a message, a task, an appointment, a contact, or a note rapidly in Outlook. Here we will take one message for example.

Step 1: Select the message that you will add many color categories for.

Step 2: Click the Home > Categorize > All Categories in the Tags group.

doc add category color 1

In addition to Categorize button in Home Ribbon, right clicking selected message > Categorize > All Categories is also available.
By the way, there is no Ribbon in Outlook 2007’s main interface. However, you can find out the Categorize button in the toolbar.

Step 3: Check the color categories that you will add to the selected message together.

Step 4: Click OK.

Step 5 (Optional): If you use the Category feature for the first time, it will ask you for renaming categories. You can rename categories according to your needs.

Then all of checked color categories are added to the selected message together, and show in the color lump, reading pane of related message, and related message window as well.

doc add category color 2


arrow blue right bubble Add and create more new color categories in Outlook

Current existing color categories may not enough for your categorizing. Right, this section is about how to create more new color categories in Outlook.

Step 1: Click the Categorize > All Categories in the Tags group under Home tab in Outlook 2010 / 2013; or click the Categorize button in the toolbar in Outlook 2007.

Note: The Categorize button is invalid until you select one message, one task, one appointment, one contact, or one note in Outlook.

Step 2: Click the New button in the Color Categories dialog box.

Step 3: In the Add New Category dialog box, enter a name in the Name: box, and pick out a color from the Color: box.

Step 4: Click OK button.

The new created color will list in Color Categories dialog box at once.

Note: If your Email account type is SMTP, for example the Gmail, you are not able to neither add color category for a message, nor create new color category. But it does not affect adding many color categories for tasks, appointments, contacts, and notes.


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Annie · 1 months ago
    I don't like the dark colors for Category. They use too much ink when I print out my weekly schedule. The words are difficult to read against the dark colors. There are not enough colors for a decent selection.
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    Aster · 1 years ago
    How to have brighter colors in the color category function???? All the color available is depressing.
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    Jac · 1 years ago
    I am using outlook without this function, do I need to pay for it?

    And may I know how can I get the color catagory function? I really need this function.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Sunny · 1 years ago
      If your account is SMTP, there is no catagory button.
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    Marie · 1 years ago
    Why are my New, Rename, Delete buttons grayed out? I can't add colors or name colors?
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    Dee · 1 years ago
    Is there a way to add to the color palette? I need more than the 25 colors in the color palette. Thanks.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Kay · 10 months ago
      I have this question too. Does anyone know a solution please?
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        Jenn · 4 months ago
        me too! I would love to be able to do this!
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    Jon · 2 years ago
    Categories (and colors) do not work in Outlook 2016 with IMAP email settings per the very poor customer support I received the other day. They worked fine in Windows 7 and IMAP, but are not supported now. So the ‘custom’ system I had devised using Outlook and FileMaker to handle my monthly project Billings and task records is no longer any good. Although the rep did say at the end of our chat, that I had “no more worries”. WTF?!
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    Karen · 2 years ago
    This does NOT tell me how to add colors that aren't offered by microsoft. The color choices available in 2016 are hideous.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      seth · 1 years ago
      lol this article in no way answers the question of "How to add more color categories in Outlook?"
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        seth · 1 years ago
        in the article's defense, I don't believe it is even possible.
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      Angie · 2 years ago
      I agree! We need more variety.
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        Simon · 2 years ago
        We just need access to the full color pallette rather than the fixed colors M$ are offering. You do wonder why they apply such a restriction, or is it sheer laziness?