Outlook features we loved (or hated) that lasted just two versions

Last reviewed on June 11, 2013   —  7 comments

Over the 15 years and 8 versions of Outlook, we've seen a lot of features come and go. It seems that many of the features we like last 2 versions then are either removed or radically changed and less useful. After a number of complaints, I decided a list of all the features that survived just two versions would be fun to create (and maybe eye-opening).

How many other features did we have for just two years that I forget?

Colored Flags

Outlook 2003's color flagsThese were introduced in Outlook 2002 and remained unchanged in Outlook 2003.

Outlook 2007 converted colored flags to Color Categories in an attempt to merge colored flags and labels. Whether this is a positive or negative change depends on who you talk to.

Personally, I'd like to have flags, categories, and colors as three separate features.


Like colored flags, these were in Outlook 2002 and 2003 and converted to color categories. Labels had a big advantage over color categories: you could label one event in a recurring series and you could use Automatic formatting to highlight appointments, overriding the label color. Color categories replace labels and apply only to the entire series and take precedence over automatic formatting.

Calendar labels in Outlook 2003

To-Do Bar

The To-Do Bar was introduced in Outlook 2007, improved in Outlook 2010 and replaced by "peeks" in Outlook 2013. Peeks are not an acceptable replacement for the To-Bar Bar in my book as peeks have few features and are too many steps to pin open.

Send Items configuration for IMAP accounts

Introduced in Outlook 2007 and improved in Outlook 2010 to include deleted items. User customization was removed in Outlook 2013 - Outlook decides where to store them when it sets up the account. My IMAP accounts all use the server folders, others complain their IMAP accounts now use the local folders.

Corporate/Workgroup and Internet Mail Only modes

I'm not sure anyone misses two Outlook modes, but they lasted just two versions, Outlook 98 and 2000.

Suggested Contacts

The one-hit wonder known as Suggested Contacts lasted just one version (Outlook 2010), and that was a version too long for many users. You can delete the folder from your data file or mailbox. If you have Outlook 2010, you can disable the creation of Suggested Contacts but not remove the folder. Sorry. :)

About Diane Poremsky

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by Slipstick.com.

7 responses to “Outlook features we loved (or hated) that lasted just two versions”

  1. M

    They need to add the labels back. This is very inconvenient.

  2. Dan Billingsley

    Diane - I'm converting from Outlook 2003 to Outlook 2013 so I have a steep learning curve. I used colored flags a lot in 2003. Color Categories seems as if it would do just what I want - it is discussed in Outlook 2013 materials, but I can't find it on my ribbon bars and have been unable to follow the workarounds in some posts. Bottom line - is there a facility to easily categorize email in 2013 (ideally with a single click as in 2003) or not? A how-to URL reference would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your good work! Browsing around, I've found your observations/suggestions to be the most succinct available.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What type of email account do you use? Color categories are hidden in IMAP accounts. See http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/outlook-categories-flags-and-imap-accounts/ for the methods you can use to enable color categories in imap accounts.

  3. Josh B

    Diane, I love your help! Question on two things:
    1.) Any word of a fix for the To-Do list. One day of calendar is useless!
    2.) When I send something to the Deleted Items folder quickly, it sometimes registers as unread and then I have another distracting number next o the Deleted Items folder. Anyway to prevent the Deleted Items folder from showing any little blue digit beside it?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      1. No, they haven't said anything to us about the To-Do list. There is an addin that creates a to-do with multiple days. (two actually)

      2. You can set it to show either unread or total. I have VBA that marks all items sent to the deleted folder as read - that will save you from marking any as read before deleting.

  4. Josh

    Thanks! I got really confused by #2. Is there an easier way to do this? I personally never sort by read and unread emails, I just want to get rid of the annoying little blue number next to my deleted file. Can I set up a rule that any email that is deleted is automatically considered read?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, there is no rule that can do this. Sorry. The macro is easy to use - it needs to go in ThisOutlookSession - if you don't know how to use the editor, see How to use VBA editor.

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