How to Upgrade to Color Categories

Last reviewed on March 7, 2013

Applies to Microsoft Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007

After upgrading to Outlook 2007 or above, you need to convert categories to color categories to add them to the master categories list.

Data File Properties

Do this by right clicking on the top level folder (where Outlook Today is) and choose Data File Properties from the menu.

If using Outlook 2007, the command is called Properties.

It should be the last command, as seen in the screenshot, but may not be the very last item if you have add-ins installed that add commands to this menu.

In the Properties dialog, click the button to Upgrade to Color Categories. This will convert the categories and add any not already on your master color category list, to it.

If you have more than one account in your profile that uses an existing data file, you need repeat these steps for each account.

Upgrade to color categories

To share color categories with other users, see the Tools below.

Tools

Categories Administrator for Outlook/Exchange

Categories Administrator was specifically designed for users to easily administer Master and Individual Contact Categories in Outlook/Exchange/BCM. Add, rename, merge, remove, delete, import, and create categories in Outlook/Exchange/BCM. Create a query and then map it to the selected contacts.

Category Importer

Want the same Master Category List in Outlook on different PCs? This free utility, Category Importer for Outlook, exports your Master Category List (MCL) to a text file that you can easily import on another PC.

Category Manager

Category Manager allows sharing of color categories; it adds a sidebar to the folder view as well as opened items, in which you can group your categories and assign them lightning fast; and it adds a reminder, which optionally prompts you if you forget to assign a category. Version 3

CodeTwo CatMan

CodeTwo CatMan allows sharing of Outlook categories with other users on the local network. Centralized management using a shared configuration file. Version 3.0.1

Exchange Category Exporter

For Mac users. Export contacts from a specific category in Outlook 2011 or Entourage.

Exchange Category Manager

Exchange Category Manager is a plug-in for Exchange server 2010. Without any interaction to the user's pc or Outlook it enables you to manage the Outlook categories and colors that are available to the users in Outlook 2007 and higher. You can define an unlimited number of groups with different users. Each group can have it's own set of categories and colors that the user can choose from. Per user group you can either add categories to the existing list that a user has in Outlook or replace everything with the predefined list. As it integrates with Exchange server directly the users do not have to do or install anything, their category list is simply automatically managed.

ReliefJet Essentials for Outlook

The updated version of ReliefJet Essentials for Outlook adds many new features including support for Quick Text with hotkeys and expandable macros. New utilities added like Add BCC to Messages and Redirect Messages. All utilities can be integrated with Outlook Rules. A command line tool for Outlook professionals and administrators is also provided. More than 70 tools and utilities are now included. New utilities and features as well as performance enhancements. Improved compatibility with Outlook 2013, Office 365 and Windows 8.1.

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

21 responses to “How to Upgrade to Color Categories”

  1. Camil

    when i open my outlook contacts and try to open the contact category that i had modified, sometimes i only see th default categories that came with the software, and not the ones that I added on

    this started when I tried synchronizing outlook to gmail, so I can synch it with my android

    please advise

  2. Jan Churchill

    I have just had outllok 2010 downloaded on to my computer,
    I am trying to relabel the categories to match what we are used to for Available Appointments for differant services offered by Southern Health.
    I can't do this.
    I have looked and read from the web but do not still understand what I have to do.
    Could some one explain in simpke terms please.
    Forever Greatful
    Jan

  3. Jan Churchill

    I am not sure what we had orgiginally but I could change the names to the categoes then they match my appointments.
    No I just have the 4 colours and I can't change them

  4. Jans P

    Before I received this response, I changed the categories to match my old ones in XP and added my old ones and all of the contacts automatically updated. I am pleased I don't have to go in one by one.

  5. Cynthia Page

    I can't get categories to be available in the folders that aren't under the main heading. When I set up Outlook it automatically set a separate group of folders for my email address that is not the same as the "Outlook Data File" set of folders. Now I can only use the categories if I transfer an email into the Outlook files then transfer it back to my email address files.

    Is there any way to get categories to show up in my other data files?

  6. Shala

    I am having similar issues. We share a calendar with 65 people. And we use the color categories, but only the main person and my self can see the colors added to the calendar. The rest of the staff can not. How can we fix that so that all employees see the same colors?

  7. T

    Hi There,

    I currently have full delegate access to my managers calendar.We are using Microsoft Outlook, I use 2007 he has 2010. I have full access to his calendar, read write etc and I use the categories which I have edited to my liking with colur etc. I colour categorize any meetings in his calendar for travel etc except he cannot see the colour, he can see the meeting etc but not the colur category associated to it - How do I get him to also be able to view the colour in his calendar?

  8. Marc

    One of our users also lost all his category colors when upgrading from Office 2010 to 2013. I tried the first suggestion to "Upgrade to Color Categories" on his main data file as shown at the top of this page, but nothing has changed. The colors are still missing. Anything else I can try?

  9. coelacanth97

    When I deployed Office 2013 around the office, some simply did an install-over-top of 2010, but others first required me to uninstall Office 2010 Standard before installing 2013, due to 32/64-bit discrepancy. I can't remember if I had to uninstall 2010 first for this user. He's the only one that uses category colors anyway.

    Anyway, I can confirm that clicking any folder within his archive folder (PST file), the color boxes appear. They don't appear anymore anywhere within the main mailbox, and I can confirm on a computer still running Office 2010 that the color boxes DO appear within the main mailbox.

    As I mentioned, I already tried right-clicking the main mailbox > Data file properties > Upgrade to color categories, this did not replace the color boxes within the main mailbox.

    If I categorize a message anywhere within the main mailbox, the color block doesn't appear as it does within the personal folder.

  10. Elaine

    I use coloured categories for my boss' emails. When an email requires action, I choose the category (i.e., meeting) and choose the category "action" which is red. As of yesterday, if I choose the category "meeting" it automatically adds the category "action". Help!!!!

  11. vanitylicenseplate

    Microsoft should go belly up for leaving crap like this to third party developers. Its not like outlook is a free program. More and more they just leave stuff out that use to work great, then replace it with half-a$$ garbage that have never been tested.

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