Restore the default color categories


I can't find a way to restore the list of color categories to the original list provided when Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 was installed.

Note: Previous versions of Microsoft Outlook contain a Master Category List of predefined categories, and in those versions you can restore that list to its original properties.


You cannot reset the list to the six default categories from within Office Outlook 2007. These default categories are offered as placeholders for you to customize, as needed.


Although you cannot restore the six default categories from within Outlook, you can recreate the list. Or, you can run a command by using a command-line switch in the Windows Run dialog box to automatically restore the default list of six categories.

Recreate the list in Outlook

Restore the list by using a command-line switch

Recreate the list in Outlook

Once you change or delete one of the six, default color categories, the only way to restore it from within Outlook is to recreate it.

This basic set of color categories is designed to be customized. You can rename the categories and associate them with different colors. Beyond these six color categories, it is easy to create new color categories. The following are the six, default color categories in Outlook 2007.

Red Category

Yellow Category

Blue Category

Orange Category

Green Category

Purple Category

The properties that you can apply to any category are color, name, and shortcut key. If you change a color category that is already assigned to items, the color category is updated in those items.

Note: If you upgrade from another version of Outlook when you install Office Outlook 2007, the first time that you open the Color Categories list, the six, default color categories are displayed, along with any categories that had been applied to items in your earlier version of Outlook.

Restore the list by using a command-line switch

There is a command-line switch that will restore the six, default category colors and names in the category list. Learn more about using command-line switches.

Important: Running this command-line switch will delete any custom categories that you created. If you upgraded to Office Outlook 2007 from another version of Outlook, any custom categories or categories from the Master Category List will be deleted. Items will still retain the category name, but not a color.

First, verify the location of outlook.exe on your computer. If you accepted the default folder locations when you installed Office Outlook 2007, outlook.exe is located at c:\program files\microsoft office\office12\outlook.exe.

If you do not find outlook.exe at that location, search for the file and make a note of the full path.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Windows Vista    

      • Click Start Button image , point to All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Run.

    • Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Server 2003    

      • Click Start, and then click Run.

  2. In the Run dialog box, type a quotation mark, enter the full path for the outlook.exe file, and then type another quotation mark. Alternatively, click Browse to locate and select the file. In this case, the quotation marks are supplied automatically.

  3. After the closing quotation mark, type a space, and then type the switch /cleancategories. For example, if you use the default installation location, the text you would type would look like this:

    "c:\program files\microsoft office\office12\outlook.exe" /cleancategorie s

  4. Click OK.


    • Switches are not case-sensitive. For example, /CLEANCATEGORIES functions the same as /cleancategories.

    • Remember to include one blank space before the switch.

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