Categories vs. Multiple Contacts Folders

Last reviewed on January 31, 2014

You’ll find some debate over which method is better for managing different types of contacts — have more than one Contacts folder (Personal, Business, etc.) or use one Contacts folder with categories. There are pluses and minuses for both.

Personally, I use a combination. I have a couple of separate Contacts folders that use special forms, plus I make extensive use of categories in my main Contacts folder.

Multiple Contacts Folders

PlusesMinuses
  • Group different types of contacts separately in the Outlook Address Book
  • Use different forms for different types of contacts, each form specific to its folder
  • Easily export a set of contacts for use on another machine
  • Automatic journaling takes place only for the main Contacts folder
  • If a contact fits into two types (such as both Business and Personal), you may need to create duplicate entries.

One Contacts Folder, Multiple Categories

PlusesMinuses
  • Combine multiple categories into custom views for innumerable ways of looking at your Contacts
  • Automatic journaling for all Contacts
  • Cannot use Categories to select items for a Word mail merge, except in Outlook 2000
  • Cannot directly export a particular category; must copy to a separate folder first
  • Cannot use Categories to filter when using the Outlook Address Book

How to Create Additional Contact folders

To create additional Contact folders, right click on the Contact folder and choose New Folder. Enter a name for the folder.

If you don’t want it to be the subfolder of the Contacts folder, select a different folder before clicking Ok.

Right click and choose New Folder Create new folder dialog

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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