Use categories in Outlook.com

Categories let you easily identify and group messages and calendar events in Outlook.com. Choose from default categories or create your own, and assign one or more categories to your messages or calendar events.

Note: Currently, you can't sort messages or calendar events by category in Outlook.com.

Choose your version for instructions

The instructions are slightly different depending on whether you're using the Outlook.com beta. Choose which version you're using to see the instructions that apply to you.

IF YOUR MAILBOX LOOKS LIKE...

A screenshot of the top left corner of the Outlook.com beta mailbox

See Instructions for the Outlook.com beta.

IF YOUR MAILBOX LOOKS LIKE...

A screenshot of the top left corner of the classic Outlook.com mailbox

See Instructions for classic Outlook.com.

Instructions for Outlook.com beta

Method 1:

  1. Select the email message or messages you want to categorize.

  2. Select Categorize from the top toolbar, and then do the following:

    • To apply a category: Search for or select the category you want to use.

    • To remove a category: Clear the check mark next to the category.

Note: If you've assigned a lot of categories and can't see the category you're looking for, click All categories at the bottom of the list.

Method 2:

  • Right-click the email message or selected messages, and then select Categorize from the list. Then, do the following:

    • To apply a category: Select the category you want to use.

    • To remove a category: Clear the check mark next to the category.

Note: If you select multiple messages with categories already applied, the categories selected in the drop-down will only show those applied to all those messages you've selected.

Note: You can't apply a category to an instance of an appointment or meeting series. You can only apply categories to the entire series.

  1. Right-click the calendar event.

  2. Select Categorize, and then select a category to apply it, or clear the check mark next to a category to remove it.

    If you don't see the category you're looking for, select All categories at the bottom of the list.

Method 1:

  1. Select an email message or calendar event and right-click.

  2. From the Categorize menu, select New category.

  3. Type a name for your category, and then, if you want, choose a color by clicking the category icon.

  4. Press Enter. The category is created and applied to the items you've selected.

Method 2:

  1. At the top of the page, select Settings Settings > View all Outlook settings.

  2. Select General > Categories.

  3. Select Create category.

  4. Type a name for your category, and then, if you want, choose a color by selecting the category icon.

  5. Press Enter.

  1. Go to Settings Settings > View all Outlook settings.

  2. Select General > Categories.

  3. Select the icon of the category you want to change.

  4. Select a color from the picker.

    Note: Colors shown reflect the color of the category text, not the background color of the label when applied to an item.

  1. Go to Settings Settings > View all Outlook settings.

  2. Select General > Categories.

  3. Select Delete Delete ( to delete a category.

Instructions for classic Outlook.com

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Select a message you want to categorize.

  3. Select Categories and choose the category you want to use.

    A screenshot of the Categories button

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Select a message you want to categorize.

  3. Select Categories > New category.

  4. Type a name for the category.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Select any message.

  3. Select Categories > Manage categories.

  4. Select the category you want to edit, and then select the arrow next to it.

    A screenshot of the arrow next to a category

  5. Choose the color you want to use, and select OK.

  1. Sign in to Outlook.com.

  2. Select any message.

  3. Select Categories > Manage categories.

  4. Select the category you want to delete, and then select Delete The Delete icon .

    A screenshot of the Delete button

Still need help?

Get help with Outlook.com:

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See Also

Organize your Inbox with Archive, Sweep, and other tools in Outlook.com

Organize email by using inbox rules in Outlook.com

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