Outlook Color Categories in Outlook 2007

Posted on 2011-10-15
Last Modified: 2013-02-16
I recently upgraded to Windows 7 (from XP) and to Outlook 2007 (from Outlook 2003).

I want to use the same categories I had for my calendar entries. category names are stored with each event, so they are potentially available. However every time I start Outlook I have to reload them, by right clicking the root folder containing the calendar, selecting Properties…, Then selecting "upgrade to color categories". At this point, my full list of categories will be visible, with their associated colors. The next time I start Outlook however, I have to go through the same sequence.  is there any way to get Outlook to remember my categories from one session to the next.

two additional pieces of information that may be relevant: 1) I have approximately 8 PST files open at a given time, most of them containing archived e-mails 2) although I have more than one calendar among the various PST files, I'm using the default calendar (the one that is in my principal PST file) to compile calendar events from various sources. It is this Calendar that I want to remember my Color Categories.  

Thanks for any suggestions.
Question by:JRossLevine
    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    Try running:

    outlook.exe /remigratecategories

    That sometimes works better than the upgrade to color categories button.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the suggestion, but it didn't work....   unless I misunderstood, and you meant that I need to run this every time I start Outlook.    I ran Outlook once with the indicated switch, and it correctly loaded all my Categories.  I then exited and saved, but next time I loaded Outlook, I was back to just the default list of "Blue Category", "Green Category", etc.  

    If I select a particular calendar event and click  "Categorize" and then "All Categories", it comes back and shows the assigned category along with "Blue Category", "Green Category", etc.   Next to the actual category name, it says "(not in Master Category List").   To get the category to appear on the list, I have to go to the main email folder, then Properties, then "Upgrade to Color Categories".   At that point, all my categories appear, but I can find no way to permanently save this list.  

    I didn't say so previously, but I don't have my .pst file in the ridiculously obscure location where Microsoft puts them by defalt....  Rather, I have all my .pst files in a single folder where I can easily back them up.  

    I'm very frustrated with this.  

    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    It could be that your PST file is either corrupted or most likely created by the older version of Outlook and it is the older-style PST.

    The easiest way to find out if this is the case, is to create a new PST file with your Outlook 2007. You can do this by using the Export option in Outlook 2007 to export your existing PST file to a brand new one (after upgrading to color categories). Then you can replace the old PST with the new one.

    Accepted Solution

    1) Yes, it's true that my .pst file could be corrupted, but I suspect the problem is related in some way to Outlook having been designed by several independent teams of programmers, none of whom knew what the others were doing, and none of whom actually use Outlook.  

    2) I do have several older .pst files actively loaded.   You can tell by right-clicking the top level folder, then select Properties, then "Advanced".  Under "Format", the newer files read, "Personal Folders File", while the older ones  read "Personal Folders File (97-2002)",   My "Default" .pst file, containing the problem calendar, was of the newer type.   Nevertheless, I followed your suggestion, and exported the entire contents into a new .pst file.   At first I thought this might be working, but alas, when I rebooted the computer, my Master Category list was missing again.  All I was left with was the Rainbow Coalition of default "Color Categories":  ROY G BIV (where IV=P)

    I tried exporting the calendar folder into its very own .pst file.  No joy.  
    I even tried setting this as the default .pst file.   I tried this, and I tried that:  Only misery.
    3) In the meantime, I discovered another problem.   Outlook kept assigning certain of its own "example" categories, such as "Business", "Birthday", "Must Attend", etc.--NONE of which did I actually use--to certain of my calendar events.   I would clear these using a list view (View-Current View-By Category), then selecting all the events with the bogus categories, and clearing the check box for that category..... etc. etc.   But each time, when I would reboot and restart Outlook, the bogus categories would be back again.     It was driving me crazy.....  

    The Answer Comes to Me in a Dream

    Finally, weary of the endless cycles of restoring my Master Category list, only to have it disappear, and deleting the bogus categories, only to have them reappear, I fell into a fitful sleep, during which I had a dream about benzene molecules.   Why benzene?   It's carcinogenic!  Anyway...  the benzene molecules mysteriously transmogrified into into a group of six lab rats, all of which looked like me, except that each rat had a different colored lab coat, representing all the colors of the spectrum.   Each rat was biting the tail of the rat in front of it, and running in endless circles, faster and faster, until the circle appeared to turn white!  

    Awakening from the dream in a cold sweat, it occurred to me that my own category list was remarkably drab.   NOT only had I NOT used the default color categories beneficently provided by Microsoft, I had actually been so inconsiderate as to delete the unused categories, believing them to serve no purpose.  

    It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I should add those colors back...    But how?  So, prior to restoring my category list, I went to the pristine Calendar folder I had exported, and created a brand new event....   an International holiday to be called "National Sunny Outlook Day", to be held each year on April 1, honoring the creators of Microsoft Outlook, in appreciation for all the happiness they've brought into my life!

    In consideration of the composition of sunlight, I assigned this holiday simultaneously to the "Red", "Orange", "Yellow", "Green", "Blue", and "Purple" color categories    I then dragged my new six-in-one rainbow holiday into the problem calendar.   And the next time I rebooted.....  lo and behold, there were all my categories--and no bogus ones!!  

    Outlook had the "color categories" it (apparently) desired, and I had the uncolorful categories I actually need.  

    The moral of the story is that if Microsoft goes to the trouble of calling something "Color Categories", you'd be well advised not to delete all the colors off the list, lest woe befall you.          

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