Category management in Outlook 2003 and 2007

This content is 16 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Office 2007 has many improvements over previous versions but most of my colleagues use Office 2003. As I’ve had to install a virtual machine (VM) on my 64-bit desktop in order to run essential 32-bit applications (like our VPN client), I decided to stay as close to the corporate standard as possible and installed Office 2003 in the VM. One unfortunate side effect (apart from the many features that I am missing in Outlook) was the loss of the categories upon which much of my e-mail searching and filtering is based.

Earlier versions of Outlook featured something called the master category list, which could be transferred between PCs using a registry key export and import. Unfortunately, Outlook 2007 dispenses with this approach and instead stores the categories in the master store (mailbox or personal folder).

It seems that I can still search and filter on the categories that my mail was assigned to (they are just not in the master category list) but this also restricted me when adding new mail to categories.

In the end, I decided that reverting to Outlook 2003 was just too painful and I started using Outlook 2007 again to access my corporate e-mail.

The following links may be useful to anyone else who is trying to get to grips with categories in Outlook:

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