Unable to Use Color Categories for Outlook 2013
I've recently installed Office 2013 and found that the categories tag wasn't even on the ribbon (beside the tags where it should and used to be). and whenever i tried customizing the ribbon to add it, it was greyed out in the menu and didn't appear on the ribbon. Whenever I clicked an appointment, the categories tab wasn't there either. Even the normal tags (Private, High Importance, Low Importance) don't work - they're clickable but they don't work. In the same way, whenever an appointment window opens, yet again, the categories tab isn't there.   
February 12th, 2013 7:26pm

You are using an IMAP (or Outlook.com) account and flags are not fully supported in those accounts. If you have an imap account and are using the calendar in the imap folder, categories are not supported. You need to add a pst file and set it as default data file.
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February 13th, 2013 6:36am

Hi, I also am having this problem. I really don't understand this IMAP malarky. I am not dumb but some-things I shy away from, I know my gmail account likes to use it on my android phone and that's about it.

Anyway, I have a Gmail account as default on my new installed Office 2013, all syncs wonderfully. except calendar (which I understand to be a different *HUGE* can of worms) but this not be able to use colour to categorize my email is ANNOYING.

I can categorize one colour, red, otherwise the right click clears it.

I used all the default settings when asked for email account details, I suppose it does not *need* to sync everytime if that would solve the problem.......

Please an idiots guide.

Long day.


February 14th, 2013 2:04am

Google calendars don't sync with Outlook. You can link using an ICS calendar file but it's not synced and can't be edited.

Color categories can be added to messages - see http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/outlook-categories-flags-and-imap-accounts/ for the necessary steps. Flags are limited to the red flag only.

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February 14th, 2013 2:13am

My question is specific to categories versus the tabs which I use (had used?) extensively.  In Outlook 2010, I had set up 8 different color categories I could apply to any appointment, meeting, etc. in my calendar thus enabling me to quickly decipher, based on the color of the event, what my day was going to look like.  However, in my version of Outlook 2013, the category tab is greyed out and I can't set up let alone use the color category function at all.  I am a Gmail user with Outlook as my local replica.  I use gSyncit to sync my outlook contact and calendar with Gmail.  How can I get my category function in Outlook 2013 to function like it did in my Outlook 2010?  Any tips would be helpful.  Thanks. 
February 20th, 2013 7:00am

Are you using the Calendar folder in the gmail imap ost file?  You need to use a local pst like you did in Outlook 2010, then it should work.
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February 25th, 2013 11:15pm

Thanks for your response Diane.  I installed a new pst database as you suggested above by following your instructions from the earlier thread.  However, what now?  I see I have two sets of folders.  The original ost folder and new pst folders.  The old ost folders remains unchanged new pst set of folders are empty.  I went to my calendar and I still can't used the categories since they are greyed out.  For what it is worth, there are two calendars.  The one is empty and is called "calendar" and the other is called "Calendar (this computer only)".  However, these two calendars were there before I created the new pst database so nothing has changed here either.  Anyway, what am I missing (...or dong wrong as probably is the case)?  Thanks for your assistance. 
March 8th, 2013 3:49pm

(Outlook 2013) I've always had a .pst file ... Despite that (and your suggested "tips"), I am unable to view colors in e-mail messages. Example: If I assign the Category IMPORTANT to the Color RED and then assign it to an e-mail message, I don't see a RED box next to the e-mail, I see "IMPORTANT" spelled out in the Category Column; no color assigned.  This is only true for my e-mail messages, Calendars, Contacts, and Notes Categories all work as they did in Outlook 2010.
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April 21st, 2013 2:32pm

Are you using reading pane off or on the bottom? The wider category field causes it to be spelled out.
April 22nd, 2013 6:46am

You may need to "Upgrade" your data file to use catagories.

In outlook 2013 right click your email account you want to upgrade

go to Data File Properties

at the bottom of the window there is a "Upgrade to Color Categories.." button.

  • Proposed as answer by David H BEng Sunday, July 20, 2014 9:24 AM
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April 24th, 2013 5:31pm

This has been the best solution to this issue. Thanks so much David :)
June 17th, 2013 1:54am

I had the same issue.  I finally decided to uninstall Outlook 2013 (which was originally installed as IMAP) and reinstalled Outlook 2013 using pop server.  My color categories then came alive however my calendar did not sync with Google calendar.  After some research I decided to give gSyncit a try and it has worked marvelously well.  I originally used the free version of gSyncit but it limits the amount of data which gets synced.  The paid version works very, very well and runs smoothly in the background.  Though it is shameful that we have to purchase this third party software to sync Outlook 2013 with Google, it's great to have Outlook functioning fully again.  

As an aside, sometimes (not very often) gSyncit does not turn on in the background by itself when I boot up my computer so I've had to turn it on manually.  Not sure what this is about but fortunately it only occurs once in a blue moon. 

  • Proposed as answer by Rovering Tuesday, February 25, 2014 2:48 PM
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February 25th, 2014 5:47pm

The old google calendar sync utility still works and works with Outlook 2013, but gsyncit is much better IMHO.

update: the google calendar sync utility will stop working Aug 1 2014. Use gSyncit or another utility.

February 25th, 2014 6:55pm

Hi Diane,

Many thanks for your tips, categorisation is a very helpful tool that I have been missing in outlook 2013.

I've followed the instructions from this and your previous thread, however, I now have 2 calendars 'Calendar' - which works with categories and 'Calendar - this computer only' that does not.

This addresses the calendar issue, but I'd also like to categorise email. There are now 2 email accounts - my normal email plus outlook data file account. There are no emails in the data file account folders and I'm unable to categorise the original email account.  

Can you advise how to resolve?

Thank you in advance

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September 17th, 2014 12:14pm

The categories you assign won't sync to the server and be visible on other computers, but you can use either keyboard shortcuts to assign categories or a small macro to bring up the category dialog and assign them for messages on this computer.

This works on selected mail - add a button for it to the ribbon -

Public Sub CategorizeIMAP()
Dim objItem As Outlook.MailItem
Set objItem = Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)
Set objItem = Nothing
End Sub

http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/outlook-categories-flags-and-imap-accounts/ has more information and a macro that works for open or selected items.

September 17th, 2014 4:01pm

Thank you for this... saved me ages inventing a workaround.
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February 18th, 2015 1:07pm

I have a problem, My categories worked well on Windows 8. If created a category, and then a group within that category , the categories were the same and if I save a new person into the group they automatically went into the category list. When I updated to Widows10 and then tried to enter more into the group , there normally categories were not listed and they did not go into the category. Example formed a category H5. Then in H5 I formed  a group H5, when I added a new name to that category it went into the overall H5. If I had 40 names in H5, I had 40 names in Group H5. when I emailed a letter to a group in CC I put in H% and all the addresses in that group was emailed. I updated to Windows 10. Though I have added more to Group H5 they do not go into the category H5 and also the new ones are not posted out. There seems no connection with the files and category I had with the W8 information and W10 information


August 12th, 2015 2:42am

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