Outlook Categories and Labels

January 24th, 2007 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

Another kick in the pants today now that I’ve switched over to Outlook 2007 (I’ve been using Office 2007 betas for a while but not for email/PIM).  I’m the kind of person who dots an ‘i’ and crosses a ‘t’, whenever I see one.  Likewise I fill in the categories on calendar appointments and tasks in Outlook. 

Outlook 2002 category and label

When I assign a task I give it a category to enable me to track it.  If I schedule a meeting I make sure that it is properly marked up with the appropriate category for the project as well as an appropriate label in the calendar before I send out the invitations.  This enables me to see at a glance what’s what in my calendar.  As a busy working Mom with many roles, sorting the ‘me’ appointments from the ‘family’ appointments was vital.  I also used those labels to mark calendar items as important or to highlight special events that are going on but that I’m not actually attending myself. 

2007_screenshot_categorize_In Outlook 2007 that label data has become virtually useless.  The labels are now reassigned purely as ‘colors’ with no text attached and these labels mixed in under the ‘categorize’ option.  (How do you differentiate a label from a category?)  All the label data has been lost.  The label titles, which were editable at least for your own use (eg you couldn’t send the edited title with an appointment)  has been lost.  To see what the labels were I need to open my old PST files in Outlook 2003 and correlate ‘purple’ to ‘kids appointment’ and ‘green’ to ‘important meeting’.  (Not everyone will have access to multiple versions of Office of course – thank heavens for VMWare!) 

Of course there are pluses to this change.  The new category labels can be edited so you can assign a name to the color.  They can also be applied to tasks as well as appointments, etc.  The labels in previous versions were only a superficial visual cue and couldn’t easily be sorted.  These can.  My only gripe is that my previous label colors  were lost, along with the titles I had applied to them.

It’s a lot to get used to and I doubt I’m the only one that’s struggling with it right now.  I’m really puzzled at some of the glowing reviews I’ve read for Office 2007 – I wonder if the reviewers had actually used previous Outlook versions to realize those they were losing alongside the added features.  I’ve also wondered whether there were any actual beta testers for Outlook 2007. There obviously were as I was one myself, but all the bug feedback I sent in to the beta team came back with that familiar old refrain ‘that’s not a bug it’s a feature’ … well all I can say to that is that Office 2007 is then a very fully featured product…!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 at 5:12 pm and is filed under Office 12. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Outlook Categories and Labels”

  1. Chip Decker Says:

    Go to Start > Run > type in “c:\program files\microsoft office\office12\outlook.exe” /remigratecategories

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