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How do I reset the default Outlook 2007 categories?

Posted on 2009-12-28
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I'm having a horrible time finding a solution to maintain categories in a Public Folder.
Back end is Exchange 2003
Clients are mostly Outlook 2007 with a few Outlook 2003.

With the lack of a Master Category List in Outlook 2007, the Public Folder Contacts are now all messed up and I have one user who was diligent enough to categorize it using custom categories, but her work is not showing up on the other clients, namely the colors she's assigning to the category.

I'd like to default her local category list back to the standard Red Category, Blue category, Orange category etc (which I suspect is from the previous Master Category List when they were using Outlook 2003),

This way if she chooses Blue category, the item will be colored blue on the other user's Outlook since they all have a Blue Category.  How I do this?
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Question by:NLX
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26134147
Hi, NLX.

You cannot enforce a set of categories using Outlook out of the box.  Categories are designed to be purely personal.  The only way to standardize them is by consensus or by developing your own solution.  I wrote an article (http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/Software/Office_Productivity/Groupware/Outlook/Importing-and-Exporting-Outlook-2007-Categories.html) on how to backup and restore Outlook 2007 categories.  You can use that as the basis for implementing your own category management system.  Outlook itself does not have a built-in means of doing this.
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26134659
Yes, I realize you cannot enforce a set of categories in a Public Folder (something I can't fathom why microsoft did not think was necessary)

What I need is to set the user's personal categories back to their default, before she changed them.  This way, if the user chooses categories and colors everyone else has, the appointment will show up correctly colored.
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26135383
"you cannot enforce a set of categories in a Public Folder"
You cannot enforce categories at all without regard to where they are.  Sorry, I don't work for Microsoft and therefore cannot comment on why they didn't think this feature was worth adding.

"What I need is to set the user's personal categories back to their default, before she changed them."
Since categories are purely personal the only option is to manually delete them all and then add them the way you want them.  That will not prevent her from changing them again though.
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26138050
BlueDevilFan:

Thank you for your help.  I really appreciate the responses.  

I guess I'm not making myself clear.  I want to default the user's personal categories back to their original ones so they match the other users categories whose are still at original.

If I set them, as you suggest, they will not match the other users and hence not be color coded.  Even when I make a category that is named the same i.e. Blue Category, the color blue does not show up on the appointment on another users Outlook

Is this possible?


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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26138315
There are no default categories.  Categories are created by each user.  You can't reset something that does not have a default.
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26139323
ohhh damn.  They had categories that were universal via the Master Category List when they were using Outlook 2003 and now they don't.  They're mad.

Once they upgraded to Outlook 2007 everyone's categories were lost and they now all have 6 color categories, Blue, Yellow, Green etc.  I asumed those were the default Outlook 2007 categories.  I was simply trying to get those categories back.

This is really becoming quite a problem....I guess what I'll do is create a list of categories and colors on one user's station and then export and import to each of the other users via your method you posted earlier.


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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26139605
The Master Category List in Outlook 2003 and earlier wasn't universal either.  The MCL was stored in a different way (2003 and earlier stores it in the registry, 2007 stores it in a hidden folder) and categories weren't color coded in 2003 and earlier.  The MCL is personal to each user.  The actual category names themselves are stored in each item that's been categorized.  For example, if I add an item to the category "Business", then you will see that category when you open the item too.  What you won't see is the color that I've assigned to "Business".  A fresh copy of Outlook 2007 does start with some predefined categories.  I guess you could call them defaults but not in the sense that you can later reset Outlook and get them all back.  Even if you could it wouldn't help in your situation.  

The bottom line is that the categories should still all be in the items.  What you don't have are the colors tied to the category names.
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26139697
"The bottom line is that the categories should still all be in the items.  What you don't have are the colors tied to the category names."

Exactly, I'm hoping that if I have a single user create categories and color assignments, then export their categories via your export method and then import it into each users Outlook then when a category is assigned to an item, regardless of who does it, the item will not only show up as the correct category, but also the correct color on each user's Outlook.

Do you concur this is what I should expect?
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26139743
Yes, that is what you should expect.  
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26146197
Your macro works great!  No problems exporting and importing categories to the text file....but

When I close Outlook on the user that I just imported the categories to, then reopen it, the imported categories are not there anymore.

Any ideas?  Same profile, same user account.
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Accepted Solution

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David Lee earned 2000 total points
ID: 26148590
You need the following hotfix: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/970944

There is a flaw in SP2 for Office that causes categories added via programming to not be saved.  Search the page for "categories" and you'll see the description of the problem.
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Author Comment

by:NLX
ID: 26165977
Cool, now it saves once the hot fix is applied.  Thanks.  

Not the most ideal solution, especially with a large user base, but I appreciate your help BlueDevilFan.  You tha man!
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Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 26166127
Thanks and you're welcome.  Glad I could help.
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LVL 76

Expert Comment

by:David Lee
ID: 30656316
NLX,

I wrote an EE article on how to establish a corporate categories system.  Here's a link in case you're interested.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/Software/Office_Productivity/Groupware/Outlook/Outlook-2007-Corporate-Categories-System.html
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