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Categorizing your email messages, contacts, calendar items, tasks and notes allows you to use keywords to group your items by topic, person, project or any system useful to you. In the video on setting up categories at the beginning of this course, you learned how to create a list of functional classifications for all your Outlook items. It's a good idea to set up your categories when you first start using Outlook, so that you can gather similar items together naturally as you work. If you want to make new categories on the fly without going to the Categories Preference panel, click on the Categorize button in most of the toolbars.
Click Add New and you'll be asked to type the name. Drop down this color block and choose your favorite color, and then click OK. That email will now take on that color. In that first setting up categories video, we created a category for the event we're working on. Employee Fun Day! So let's assign a collection of Outlook items to it. Let's start with email by clicking on the E-Mail button in the lower-left corner of the screen if necessary. Then select the first message you want to include.
Go up to the Home Ribbon and choose Categorize. Choose Fun Day from the list. You'll now see a brown oval in the upper-right corner of the message and the message itself will turn brown. Any additional messages you receive in this conversation will also adopt that color. You can also mark a message as category by clicking on it and going up to the Message menu at the top of your screen, highlight Categorize, and select the one that you want.
The third way is by right- clicking on it, choosing Categorize, and selecting that category. You can apply multiple categories to your messages by using the same technique. All assigned categories will have checkmarks in front of them. And last, you can assign categories to Calendar items or Contacts, by dragging the item from the screen and dropping it on the Contact in the Navigation pane. Notice how it turned brown.
Now, let's take a look at Contacts and categories. I'll click on the Contact button down here, I'll click on Greg, go up to Categorize, and assign to him to the Fun Day event. Once I've assigned a category to a contact, any email messages from that contact will also be included with that category. So if we get any future messages from Greg, they'll be automatically turned brown and associated with this contact. Now, the beautiful thing about taking the time to assign categories is that they allow you to view just the content you want to see.
We'll go back to E-Mail, and then on the Home Ribbon go over to the right to Filters, drop it down, and I can choose Category and Fun Day off of the list. Now, I'm only looking at emails from Fun Day. I'll go back up to Filters and clear it. When I'm in Calendar, or Contacts, or Notes, the Navigation pane becomes the category list. Let's take a look at our Calendar. To focus in on just the meetings in one category, turn off the checkmark at the top of the Navigation pane list and all will disappear.
When we then turn on Fun Day, and any additional ones that I want, we can focus on just the topic at hand without getting distracted by everything else we have to do. I'll go ahead and I'll turn them all back on. Now, we can also search by category as well. Initiate the search by going up to the oval in the upper right-hand corner. The Ribbon will turn into Search Tools. Now, because we're going to use our Fun Day category to look for all of the items in our Outlook related to the campaign, click on the All Items button.
Go back up to the oval and type the category name. Notice that as I type, it brings up a list of all kinds of things I might search for, but the bottom one is category. So I'll click on it. Now, I'm officially searching through my entire Outlook for all its associated items. Notice that they're all brown. the color assigned to Fun Day. In the list that appears, the i column shows you what type of item it is. This Clipboard is a task. These are calendar items, these are contacts, and the envelope indicates that it's email.
I can use these column headers to arrange the list by item type, by name, or by date, and when I click on them, they'll sort themselves ascending and descending. I can also add additional columns. Right-click on one of the headers. I find Person and Folder particularly helpful when I'm looking at these search results. So I can see who sent an email message or where that item is stored. Don't forget that if you run out of room, you can hold your cursor over the edge between the list, and the details area, click, and drag to widen it.
When you're done working in this view, you can close the search or, if you want to save it to come back to it later, I can click on the Save button right here in the toolbar. When I click on the saved search, look around the bottom-left in the Navigation pane. I'll see a new Smart Folder labeled Untitled, and I'll change that to Fun Day and press Return. Now, I can come back to these search results with a single click. Note though that this Smart Album only lives in the view that I was in when I created it.
In other words, even though this category search contains emails, tasks, calendar items, and contacts, the Smart Folder itself is only in Calendar View. If instead I was looking at my E-Mail when I created the Smart Folder, that Smart Folder would be at the bottom of my email messages. So let's not forget that it's under my Calendar. Now, the best part of the Smart Folder is that it's dynamic. All new emails, tasks, and the like will get added automatically when I assign them to the category Fun Day.
As you can see, diligent use of categories will help you filter out all your other distractions, so that you can stay focused on just one project or one topic at a time.
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