Introduction

Outlook is a powerful tool for managing your emails, calendars, contacts, and tasks. But you can also use it to improve your productivity and efficiency with Outlook categories and rules.

Outlook categories are labels that you can assign to your items. You can use them to organize, prioritize, and filter your items. You can also create custom categories that suit your needs and preferences.

Outlook rules are actions that Outlook performs automatically on messages based on certain conditions. You can use them to automate tasks, such as moving messages to folders, forwarding them to other recipients, sending automatic replies, and more.

In this blog post, we will show you how to use Outlook categories and rules to create custom workflows and improve your productivity. We will also share some examples of how you can leverage these features to achieve different goals.

 

How to Use Outlook Categories

Outlook categories are color-coded labels that you can apply to your items. You can use them to group, sort, and filter your items by different criteria, such as project, priority, status, or category. You can also use them to assign tasks to yourself or others, or to track your progress.

To use Outlook categories, you need to follow these steps:

  • Select the item that you want to categorize.
  • On the Home tab, in the Tags group, click Categorize.
  • Select a category from the list, or click All Categories to see more options.
  • If you want to create a custom category, click New, and then enter a name, a color, and a shortcut key for your category. Click OK to save it.
  • If you want to apply more than one category to an item, repeat the steps above.

You can also right-click an item and select Categorize, or use the shortcut key that you assigned to a category.

To remove a category from an item, select the item, click Categorize, and then click Clear All Categories. You can also right-click the item, select Categorize, and then click the category that you want to remove.

To view your items by category, you can use the following methods:

  • On the View tab, in the Arrangement group, click Categories.
  • On the View tab, in the Current View group, click Change View, and then select a view that includes categories, such as By Category, To-Do List, or Tasks.
  • In the Navigation Pane, click the folder that contains your items, and then click the Categories button at the bottom.

You can also use the Search box to find items by category. For example, you can type category:blue to find all items that have the blue category.

 

How to Use Outlook Rules

Outlook rules are actions that Outlook performs automatically on messages based on certain conditions. You can use them to automate tasks, such as moving messages to folders, forwarding them to other recipients, sending automatic replies, and more.

To use Outlook rules, you need to follow these steps:

  • On the Home tab, in the Move group, click Rules.
  • Select Manage Rules & Alerts.
  • In the Rules and Alerts dialog box, click New Rule.
  • Select a template from the list, or click Start from a blank rule to create your own rule.
  • Click Next to specify the conditions and actions for your rule. You can select one or more options from the list, or click the underlined words to enter specific criteria or details.
  • Click Next to specify any exceptions for your rule. You can select one or more options from the list, or click the underlined words to enter specific criteria.
  • Click Next to name your rule, and to select whether to apply it to existing messages or only to new messages.
  • Click Finish to save your rule.

You can also create rules from messages that you receive or send. For example, you can right-click a message, select Rules, and then select Create Rule. You can also select a message, click Rules, and then select Create Rule.

To edit or delete a rule, you can go to the Rules and Alerts dialog box, select the rule that you want to modify, and then click Edit Rule Settings or Delete.

To run a rule manually, you can go to the Rules and Alerts dialog box, select the rule that you want to run, and then click Run Rules Now.

 

Outlook categories and rules

 

Examples of Using Outlook Categories and Rules

Outlook categories and rules can help you create custom workflows and improve your productivity. Here are some examples of how you can use them to achieve different goals.

  • If you want to send an automatic reply to messages that have a certain category, you can create a rule that sends a reply using a specific template, and has the condition of having a specific category.
  • If you want to move messages that have a certain category to a specific folder, you can create a rule that moves the message to the folder, and has the condition of having a specific category.
  • If you want to assign tasks to yourself or others based on the category of the message, you can create a rule that creates a task with a specific category, and has the condition of having a specific category.
  • If you want to track your progress on a project based on the category of the task, you can create a custom category that indicates the status of the task, such as Not Started, In Progress, or Completed. You can then apply the category to the task, and view your tasks by category.
  • If you want to prioritize your messages based on the category of the sender, you can create a custom category that indicates the importance of the sender, such as High, Medium, or Low. You can then apply the category to the contact, and view your messages by category.

 

Conclusion

Outlook categories and rules are powerful features that can help you organize, automate, and streamline your work. You can use them to create custom workflows and improve your productivity. You can also use them to achieve different goals, such as sending automatic replies, moving messages to folders, creating tasks, tracking progress, and prioritizing messages.

We hope that this blog post has given you some ideas on how to use Outlook categories and rules to boost your productivity. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below.