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How to import and export categories in Outlook?

As you know, you can create many color categories in Outlook. In addition, you can also export all of your customized categories and share them with your colleagues, or import into new computer, etc. This article is arranged to walk you through exporting and importing categories in Microsoft Outlook.

Export categories from Microsoft Outlook

Import categories into Microsoft Outlook

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arrow blue right bubbleExport categories from Microsoft Outlook

All color categories, including defaulted categories and customized categories, can be exported from Microsoft Outlook. You can do it as following:

Step 1: Create a new note:

  • In Outlook 2007, please click the File > New > Note.
  • In Outlook 2010, please click the New Items > More Items > Note.

Step 2: In the new note dialog, type some text in it. In this case, we enter the text of Categories.

Step 3: Click the button at the upper-left corner in the Note window, and then click the Save & Close in Outlook 2010 (or the Close in Outlook 2007).

Step 4: Shift to the Note view with clicking the Note icon in the Navigation Pane.

Step 5: Click the note you created before, and then click the Categorize > All Categories in the Tags group on the Home tab in Outlook 2010.

In Outlook 2007, click the Categorize > All Categories in the Toolbar.

Step 6: In the Color Categories dialog box, check the color categories that you will export later, and then click the OK button.

Step 7: Drag and move the note into a folder of Windows to save it. This note will be saved as an .msg file.

arrow blue right bubbleImport categories into Microsoft Outlook

Before you import color categories into your Microsoft Outlook, an .msg file of note with color categories is required.

Step 1: Shift to the Note view with clicking the Note in the Navigation Pane.

Step 2: Drag the .msg file of note with color categories into Microsoft Outlook.

Step 3: Shift to the Mail view with clicking the Mail in the Navigation Pane.

Step 3: Right click one email account name in the Navigation Pane, and select the Data File Properties in the right-clicking menu.

Step 4: In the Folder Properties dialog box, click the Upgrade to Color Categories button.

Step 5: A warning dialog box comes out, and just click the Yes button.

Then all color categories added in the .msg file of note are copied and imported into Microsoft Outlook.

Step 6: Click the OK button in the Folder Properties dialog box.

1. If your email account type is SMTP which does not support the Note, for example the Gmail, this trick is not available.
2. You can update the color categories only if the pasted note and your email folder belong to the same data file of pst or ost.


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Karin · 3 years ago
    Due to a ransom malware that encrypted my files, I had to reformat and reinstall my computer. I had a full back up from Windows Backup and restore. Contacts, calendar, etc. seemed to reinstall fine, but now I recognize all my categories are gone. Is it possible it saved my categories somewhere that I would be able to find? (Group lists as well?) They are not showing up on my reinstall. I did do a separate back up if my contacts and calendar separately, but I am assuming these will not be useful for the categories, is this correct?
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    Val · 3 years ago
    I didn't get the part of how to export it from outlook to excel!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Chris · 3 years ago
    Worked for me, thanks very much. Colours mixed up but that's quickly fixed manually in the Color Categories dialogue.

    [b]Suggestion:[/b] In the Import section, change Step 3: from "Right click one email account name in the Navigation Pane..." to "Right click the [i]name of the email account which is in the same data file (pst or ost) as the calendar where you need the categories[/i] in the Navigation Pane..."
    [b]Why?[/b] Some users (like me) may want to use the categories in a calendar which shares the pst file with a particular email account.
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    Steve Goldberg · 3 years ago
    Thank you a gazillion. A great gift of guidance.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Nicholas · 3 years ago
    it didn't work. the msg file is empty. the instruction Step 6 state : In the Color Categories dialog box, check the color categories that you will export later
    where is the "export later" step?