Organize your email

Set an email flag, reminder, or color

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Adding a flag to an email message works as a visual reminder for handling the email message later. Learn how to add a flag, set a reminder for a flagged email message, and assign a color category to an email message

Set a Follow Up flag

  1. Select the email message.

  2. Select the Flag .
    The flag turns red and a Follow up message appears in the header of the email message.

    Note: Follow Up flags are used for actionable items only.

View all Follow Up Flags

  1. Select View >To-Do Bar >Tasks.

    Follow Task

  2. The To-Do Bar pane opens and shows all flags.

Remove a Follow Up Flag

  1. Right-click the email message.

  2. Select Follow Up > Mark Complete.
    Folloup Toolbar
    The Follow Up Flag changes to a green checkmark and is removed from the To-Do Bar.

Set a Reminder

  1. Select the email message for which you want to set the reminder.

  2. Select Home >Follow Up > Add Reminder.

  3. In the Custom box, for Flag to, select Follow up or type a description.

  4. Check the Reminder box, enter date and time, and then select OK.

    An alarm bell Remainder icon will appear on the message.

  5. To change the time for the reminder, select Follow Up, select Add Reminder, edit the time, and then select OK.

Find an Action Item

  1. If Outlook finds something in an email that looks like an action item, an Action items tab Action Items automatically appears on the reading pane.

  2. Select the Action Items drop-down arrow to read the action item, and then select FOLLOW UP if you'd like to set a Follow Up Flag to remind you to do that action item.

    Note: If you select FOLLOW UP, the action item displays in the To-Do Bar pane.

  3. When the task is done, mark it complete.

    • From the Action Items drop-down, select Mark Complete, or

    • In the To-Do Bar pane, right-click the flagged message and select Mark Complete.

Create color categories

  1. Select Home > Categorize > All Categories.

  2. To Rename a category color, in the Color Category box, select a color category, and then select Rename. Type an appropriate name for the selected category, and then press Enter.

  3. To change the category Color, select the color you want from the Color drop-down ColorDropdown .

  4. To create a New color category, select New, type a name, select a color, and select OK.

  5. When you are done with Color Categories, select OK.

Assign an email a color category

  1. Right-click an email message.

  2. Select Categorize, and then select an appropriate color category for the message.

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Assign a color category to an email message

It's easy to get an e-mail that requires an action on our part, and then completely forget to do that action.

For this case, Outlook gives us something called the Follow up Flag.

It can give you two benefits.

The first is a visual reminder.

The second is that we can put an actual popup reminder on the flag. This way, we'll never forget to handle an e-mail.

Follow Up Flag should be for actionable items only.

Here's an actionable item.

To set a Follow Up Flag, I'm going to click the red flag in the inbox View itself.

A few things happen. The first thing is, is that the flag becomes permanent in the e-mail, even after I deselected it.

Secondly, when I click in the e-mail I can see that it has a Follow Up. I can see all my e-mails with follow ups on the right-hand side by turning on the To-Do pane.

I do that by clicking the View ribbon tab, selecting the To-Do Bar, then selecting Tasks.

Here's my follow up flag, and I can see it in this view.

When I'm finished with this task, I can right-click on the e-mail, hover my mouse over Follow Up, and select Mark Complete.

The Follow Up Flag then has a green checkmark next to it, and it's removed from the To-Do Bar.

We can also add a flag and set a reminder.

I'll change to the Home ribbon tab. With the e-mail selected, on the Home ribbon tab, I'll select Follow Up again.

This time, I'm going to choose Add Reminder.

I'm going to create a follow up flag. I'll make sure Reminder has a checkbox next to it, and I can choose the date.

I'll set the date for a few days in the future, and I can also set the time.

I'll click OK, and my follow up flag will be set.

I can change the time at any time by clicking Follow Up again, click Add Reminder, and edit my reminder time.

Once the reminder is set, an alarm bell icon will appear in the e-mail letting me know that there is an alarm on it.

Outlook can also find actionable items for me.

Here's an e-mail in which I'm being asked to do something.

Outlook thinks it's found an action item in here, because I see blue text that says Action Items.

I can click on it, and Outlook will tell me what it thinks it found in the e-mail.

Here's the actionable item, and I can click Follow up to set a follow up on it.

In just a few moments, it should show up on the right-hand side in the To-Do Bar itself.

Here it is, and I can also mark it complete either in the e-mail itself by selecting Mark Complete, or I can right-click on it directly in the To-Do Bar.

I'm gonna close out of this To-Do Bar by clicking the X on the right-hand side.

What happens when there's no e-mail action required, but you want a visual means to file or classify the e-mail? Why clutter up tasks and follow up items when you can assign it to a color category?

The first thing we should do is give our color categories meaningful names.

From the Home ribbon tab, select Categorize, and then All Categories.

Here's the default categories that Outlook gives us. We can Rename them by selecting the Color Category, and choosing Rename.

I'll hit the Enter key on my keyboard, move to the next one, and select Rename again.

These should be things that are meaningful to you.

You can also change the color of existing categories, and you can create New categories if you run out of the default ones.

I'll click OK, and now that we've renamed our categories, we can start visually categorizing our e-mail.

Here's a 128 Main e-mail. I can right-click on the e-mail, select Categorize, and then choose the 128 Main category.

I can do that for any 128 Main e-mail we have.

I could also go through and rename anything that matches up any of the categories that I've created.

I can see the category in the e-mail itself by the big colored bar that appears at the top of the e-mail, and I can also get a visual clue in the folder itself by the colored icon.

I can select View, and change to arrange my view by category.

This way, I can collapse all the categories, and it gives me a great way to see all my e-mails in one place.

This is all my uncategorized mail, so it's designated by None.

However, I can click the triangle to collapse this view, and only expand all my 128 Main e-mail.

So remember, a Follow Up Flag is for an actionable item.

A category is for a visual classification.

Categories can be assigned to anything, contacts, calendar items, and mail items.

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