Software optimize

Colorize your Outlook messages to identify e-mail from specific senders


Expecting important mail? Identify it as soon as it comes in by displaying it in a distinctive color. Start by select an existing message from the sender in question, if you have one. If you don't, that's okay; you can enter the sender's name manually in a minute. Now follow these steps:

  1. In Mail, choose Organize from the Tools menu.
  2. In the Ways To Organize Inbox pane, click Using Colors on the left side (Figure A).

Figure A

  1. In the first condition statement (we won't use the second), choose From in the first drop-down list (Figure B).

Figure B

  1. If you chose a message before starting, the sender's name will appear in the text box to the right. If it's the wrong name, enter the right name or the person's e-mail address.
  2. Choose a color from the second drop-down list (Figure C).

Figure C

  1. Click Apply Color and close the pane.

Afterward, Outlook will display all messages, existing and new, from the person you specified in the color you selected.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

35 comments
haslamIT
haslamIT

Wished the original writer would identify that this tip is for Outlook 2007 and newer. Those of us stuck with the old Outlook 2003 don't match his tutorial!

grenj
grenj

Can u colourise messages in Windows Live? Also, what is the best application for mail: Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail or Windows Live?

grenj
grenj

Can u colourise Windows Live? Also what is the best mail program: Outlook, Oulook Express, Gmail, Windows Live?

gbarnard
gbarnard

How can you do this in 2010?

donnakline
donnakline

Very useful tip if you get lots of messages.

Chug
Chug

I have 3 different e-mail accounts and I use this general idea to color messages based on the account they were received through. My problem is that this "Organize" stuff only applies to the single folder that you set it up on (Inbox initially). I want to maintain the colors if I copy/move the messages to other folders. Short of setting up the same "Organize" rules on every single folder in my system, I've found no other way to do this. Is there a way that I'm missing? I only recenly switched to Outlook from Eudora. Eudora had a very nice function for this. Once a message was colored it stayed colored no matter where I moved or copied it to.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah

Can you set this up for a domain wide email? such as any email from *@Microsoft.com would be displayed in RED.... so Mike@Microsoft.com or Ted@Microsoft5.com would both be displayed in red rather than setting up individual rules for every recipient.

barby
barby

I found a freeware program called Rainbow Folders, works good to color my folders, but I haven't tried the folders inside of Outlook.

Alvarez@Kalsi.com
Alvarez@Kalsi.com

I used color on my email to identify different priorities. However, I can only do that in Thunderbird. When is Microsoft going to implement such a scheme?

christopher.s.wagner
christopher.s.wagner

I have to retract my first post about Outlook working, it does not. Following the directions percisely did not work. Sorry , it would have been cool though if it did work

christopher.s.wagner
christopher.s.wagner

I did not apply it to folders, I applied it to emails from people and it worked for me.. I am using Outlook 2007

orangeCat99
orangeCat99

Interesting. How do you turn it off?

jojipisac
jojipisac

Could not be used for more than 2 users ina single folder.

gpdixon1
gpdixon1

Re Colorizing yr Outlook I find setting up folders a better way of keeping tabs. Also you can set up yearly folders with everything under as sub folders to files. (much like a filing cabinet. This may be much easier when it comes to archiving.

Tink!
Tink!

Didn't know about it. Now my Inbox is quite colorful indeed! :)

len.clerke
len.clerke

If only Outlook could color/categorize on the fly as you can in Thunderbird...or is there a trick I don't know about? I use Thunderbird now but have to switch to Outlook (Corporate decision)and I find T'bird's trick so helpful.

Chug
Chug

I have 3 different e-mail accounts that all pull in to my Inbox in Outlook. I want to color code them based on what account they came in on. I can find a rule condition to idenfity the account, but no action in a rule to color the message. I can assign to a category but then I have to add that as another column in my view and it's just plain not as convenient and the color coding. Oh, I have Outlook 2003. (On a side note, until recently I used Eudora 7 and was able to do this in that. I moved to Outlook finally, and reluctantly, because I want to be able to better sync contact and calendar info betweek work and home, and I'm getting a new Windows Mobile smartphone I want to sync with.)

captfrank
captfrank

I have Outlet 6. When I go to tools I don't have organize to select.

Haxton
Haxton

Is there any way that I can assign a colour to the title of a folder under outlook (2003).

tonymarch
tonymarch

Not sure what you were looking at. I have Outlook 2003, and it worked exactly as described.

craigkra
craigkra

Come on author of the article! How about giving some information on this! If Chug is correct then this tip is virtually without functionallity. If he is incorrect, then please tell us why and how to produce permanently coloured messages.

DuhGreek
DuhGreek

Look for the "Automatic Formatting..." button to the right. You will see all of the rules and can manage them from there. If you make a rule for a specific sender, you can make it more generic so that all mail from a domain will color similarly: 1. "Automatic Formatting..." 2. Select a rule, "Condition..." 3. "Advanced" tab 4. "Remove" the condition. It will appear in the definition area. 5. Make the "Value" less specific (e.g., techrepublic) then "Add to List". Be sure to keep "Condition" as "contains". You could also build one from scratch instead of modifying.

DuhGreek
DuhGreek

Look for the "Automatic Formatting..." button to the right. You will see all of the rules and can manage them from there. If you make a rule for a specific sender, you can make it more generic so that all mail from a domain will color similarly: 1. "Automatic Formatting..." 2. "Condition..." 3. "Advanced" tab 4. "Remove" the condition. It will appear in the definition area. 5. Make the "Value" less specific (e.g., techrepublic) then "Add to List". Be sure to keep "Condition" as "contains". You could also build one from scratch instead of modifying.

juliang
juliang

You can. That's just what I do. Use rules. Check out the answer to post #6 or write to me and I'll explain.

mwb78
mwb78

In Outlook 2003, you can use the Automatic Formatting feature in Organize. Use the rules you described above to add a category. But instead of adding another column to show the category indicator, use the Automatic Formatting to colorize the message in your Inbox. On the Tools menu, select Organize to open the Ways to Organize Inbox pane. Select Using Colors from the Organize pane. Click on Automatic Formatting (top right) to open the dialog box. Click Add to create a new rule. Type in an appropriate name in the Name box. Click Condition, then select More Choices in the Filter dialog box. Click Categories and select the category that applies to this rule. Click OK to return to the Automatic Formatting dialog box. Click Font and choose the color you wish to use for this email account. Click OK to apply the rule.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Sure you have Outlook or Outlook Express. Big difference.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Do you mean folder items in the Navigation Pane -- not that I know of.

Chug
Chug

While I agree, I would love to hear from the original author of the article, note that this article is just over a year old.

lumi57
lumi57

why my Outlook (2003) don t have in mail, form the Tools, "Organize" ?

Chug
Chug

Thanks for the suggestion. I had already found this and set something similar up, which does work in the Inbox as messages come in. The down side to it is that the "Organize" rules seem to only work on a single folder, in this case I have it set up on the Inbox. Once I move a message out of the Inbox I lose the colorization. I'd have to set up "Organize" rules on every single folder I have. The category field at least persists with the message no matter where it goes.

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

It quite clearly states this is for OUTLOOK, not outlook express. Did you find the organize button in outlook express???

craigkra
craigkra

Dear Chug, This is exactly my point! The author has had approximately 365 days to give an answer. He or she should have replied in the first days after you posted your problem, unless the original article has been disowned.

Chug
Chug

Been a while and I don't know if you'll (juliang) will see this reply or not, but I've confirmed, it only works on the Inbox. I've recently upgraded to Office 2007 too and still, when I set up the Organize automatic formatting with color, it only works on the Inbox. If I drag the message to another folder or delete the message to "deleted items" the message loses the coloring. I have to set the coloring rule up for every single folder (and every time I'd ever create a new folder I'd have to remember to set the coloring rule up on the new folder). If you have any other ideas I'll be glad to try them out.

juliang
juliang

I'm not sure that's true. I move my messages to other folders all over the place including local PST files and I don't lose my colors. Just make sure the Category you are using are listed in the Master list. (I use Office 2007 but it should work for 2003 as well)