How to categorize emails in outlook

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024 by

In today’s fast-paced world, email has become an essential tool for communication. With the average office worker receiving over 120 emails per day, it can be challenging to keep track of important messages and stay organized. This is where email categorization comes in.

Categorizing emails in Outlook is a simple and effective way to manage your inbox and stay on top of your emails. In this article, we will discuss what email categorization is, why it is important, and how to categorize emails in Outlook.

What is Email Categorization?

Email categorization, also known as email tagging or labeling, is the process of organizing emails into different categories or folders based on their content, sender, or importance. This allows you to quickly find and prioritize emails, making it easier to manage your inbox.

Why is Email Categorization Important?

Email categorization is essential for several reasons:

  • Efficiency: By categorizing your emails, you can quickly find and respond to important messages, saving you time and increasing your productivity.
  • Organization: Categorizing emails helps you keep your inbox organized and clutter-free, making it easier to find specific emails when you need them.
  • Prioritization: With email categorization, you can prioritize important emails and ensure they don’t get lost in a sea of other messages.
  • Better Communication: By categorizing emails, you can easily identify and respond to urgent messages, improving communication with your colleagues and clients.

How to Categorize Emails in Outlook

Now that we understand the importance of email categorization let’s look at how to categorize emails in Outlook.

Step 1: Create Categories

The first step to categorizing emails in Outlook is to create categories. These categories will act as folders where you can store your emails. To create a category, follow these steps:

  1. Open Outlook and go to the “Home” tab.
  2. Click on the “Categorize” button in the “Tags” group.
  3. Select “All Categories” from the drop-down menu.
  4. In the “Color Categories” window, click on “New.”
  5. Enter a name for your category and choose a color to represent it.
  6. Click “OK” to save your new category.

You can create as many categories as you need, and you can also rename or delete them at any time.

Step 2: Assign Categories to Emails

Once you have created your categories, you can start assigning them to your emails. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the email you want to categorize.
  2. Click on the “Categorize” button in the “Tags” group.
  3. Select the category you want to assign to the email.

You can assign multiple categories to an email by selecting multiple categories from the “Categorize” drop-down menu.

Step 3: View Categorized Emails

To view your categorized emails, go to the “View” tab and click on “Categories” in the “Arrangement” group. This will display all your emails grouped by their assigned categories.

You can also filter your emails by category by clicking on the category name in the “Categories” column.

Step 4: Create Rules for Automatic Categorization

If you receive a lot of emails from the same sender or with similar content, you can create rules to automatically categorize them. This will save you time and ensure that your emails are always organized.

To create a rule for automatic categorization, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the “Home” tab and click on the “Rules” button in the “Move” group.
  2. Select “Create Rule” from the drop-down menu.
  3. In the “Create Rule” window, select the conditions that you want to trigger the rule. For example, you can choose to categorize all emails from a specific sender.
  4. Click on “Advanced Options” to specify the actions you want to take. Here you can choose to categorize the email, move it to a specific folder, or flag it for follow-up.
  5. Click “OK” to save your rule.

From now on, any emails that meet the conditions you specified will be automatically categorized according to your rule.

Tips for Effective Email Categorization

To get the most out of email categorization, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep it Simple: Don’t create too many categories as this can become overwhelming and defeat the purpose of categorization. Stick to a few broad categories that cover the majority of your emails.
  • Be Consistent: Use the same categories for similar types of emails to avoid confusion and make it easier to find specific emails.
  • Use Color Coding: Assigning colors to your categories can make it easier to identify and prioritize emails at a glance.
  • Regularly Review and Update Categories: As your email usage changes, you may need to add or remove categories to better suit your needs. Regularly review and update your categories to ensure they are still relevant.

Alternatives to Email Categorization

While email categorization is a popular method for managing emails, there are other alternatives you can consider:

Email Tags

Email tags are similar to categories, but they are more flexible. Unlike categories, which are predefined, you can create tags on the fly and assign them to emails. This allows for more specific and personalized organization of emails.

Outlook Labels

Outlook labels are similar to tags, but they are more visual. Instead of just a name and color, labels also include an icon, making it easier to identify emails at a glance.


Email categorization is a simple yet effective way to manage your inbox and stay organized. By creating categories, assigning them to emails, and using rules for automatic categorization, you can save time, improve communication, and increase productivity.

Remember to keep your categories simple and consistent, and regularly review and update them to ensure they meet your needs. With these tips and techniques, you can take control of your inbox and stay on top of your emails.

Gulrukh Ch

About the Author: Gulrukh Ch

Gulrukh Chaudhary, an accomplished digital marketer and technology writer with a passion for exploring the frontiers of innovation. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology, Gulrukh seamlessly blends her technical prowess with her creative flair, resulting in captivating insights into the world of emerging technologies. Discover more about her on her LinkedIn profile.