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Add color to your Outlook

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in The Office Tech Pro

What happened to colors in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010? If you're confused about color, you're not alone. If you went from 2003 to 2007 and 2010, you know they seem to keep moving the simple tools you used to use to color code emails and other Outlook items. Colors are a great tool to help keep us organized...hopefully, these tips will help you easily colorize again.

Remember to Right Click! Beginning in Outlook 2007, the roles of color, flags and categories got rearranged. The “rearrangement” continues in Outlook 2010. Flags are still very useful in tagging emails for follow-up. They then take on similar characteristics as tasks. These flags will appear in varying shades of red depending upon the follow-up timeframe. If you right click, rather than left click the gray flag, you’ll see a variety of choices for follow-up time. These will show up accordingly in both your To Do bar and your Task lists.

Where does your time go?   So, then, back to color coding. Categories are the tool you will now use to differentiate all your Outlook items by color. By either using the Ribbon button when editing an item or by right clicking the item in the list, you can categorize with up to 25 colors. And, these can be applied to ALL your items, calendars, contacts, mail, tasks and notes. Used effectively with calendar items, it’s easy to tell at a glance where your time is going. The category color will appear in views and in each item itself as a top colored bar.


I used to be able to change the color of emails from certain people. Did I lose that in Outlook 2010?

In Outlook 2003 and 2007, in your Inbox, you used to click on Tools>Organize>Using Colors. Here you could make emails from particular people appear in different colors, and with more automatic formatting options, even make them appear in larger and different fonts. As with other things in Office 2007 and 2010. If you don’t like the way something looks, change the View. This usually means clicking on the View tab. In Outlook 2010, it’s the same. On the View tab in Outlook 2010, you’ll find a View Settings button in the Current View group. This will lead you directly to the Conditional Formatting dialog box where you will click the buttons Add, then Condition.

Want more tips for using Outlook effectively? Join us on March 8th for Microsoft Outlook: Beyond Email to E-fficiency! Click here to register.

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