I couldn't figure out how to do this in Outlook 2007, and I was hoping I could do it in Outlook 2010... I want the ability to quickly apply a category when composing a new email (typically a "Waiting For..." category) for things that need a response.

It is possible to apply a category by clicking the "Options" ribbon, then the little arrow under the More Options section - but why can't I get the nice big "Categories" drop-down that's available in the "Tags" section of the main Outlook window. There are about a kabillion commands in the "Customize Ribbon" dialog box for the New Mail window, but I couldn't find anything about Categories. Should I just give up?

5 Answers 5


You need to open the "Visual Basic Window" (Alt + F11)

Add a Module (Right-click "Modules" Folder > Insert > Module) and copy & paste the below:

Public Sub CategoriesButton()
  Dim Item As Outlook.MailItem
  Set Item = Application.ActiveInspector.CurrentItem
End Sub

For Outlook 2010

  1. Click the "New E-Mail" Button

  2. Right Click > Customize Ribbon > Drop Down > Macros > Select "Project1.CategoriesButton" and add to a new group.

  3. Rename and Add icons to the button as you wish!

  • This is still needed and still works in Outlook 2016
    – Eric L
    Feb 24, 2017 at 12:11

I have a solution that I prefer to the others listed -- it's very similar to William Jackson's, with one very important difference.

I have a rule that takes action after I send a message, but instead of looking for visible text, as in William's solution, it looks for an uncommon whitespace character. I simply don't want the recipient to see text in my e-mail that isn't intended for them.

For my whitespace character, I chose the "En Quad" (U+2000) for two reasons: it's easy to remember (2000) and it's hardly ever used. My rule simply looks for the en quad in the body of the e-mail upon sending. So for those e-mails that I want to apply my category of "Waiting for Response", I simply press 2000 Alt-X. The Alt-X replaces the numbers with their corresponding Unicode character. With a few quick keystrokes, I've marked my e-mail with my custom category.

  • Brilliant. Yeah I know it's been ten years lol
    – jqning
    Dec 21, 2022 at 16:55

You can create a Rule that will automatically categorize a message after you send it based on specific words in the body. If you can swallow putting a keyword in the body of the email, this should be an easy way to do it.

For example, I created a Rule that applies after I send a message with "cat:waiting" in the body, assigning it to the "waiting" category. Then at the end of an email I just type "cat:waiting" and Outlook will categorize it according to my Rule when I send it.


I've been cursing the same thing since changing jobs and landing in Windows 7 + Office 2010 land. I had found a fix for this with Outlook 2007 but didn't get it to work right away - until just now.

What I have is not a button on the ribbon, but one in the quick access toolbar. That gives me an alt+ shortcut. Additionally, when sending uncategorized mail I get prompted for category (and attachment, if the mail mentions attachments). Nothing new - just a collection from a bunch of stuff I stumbled upon some time ago.

To summarize: 1) Create a couple of Macros; one to show the categories dialog and one for checks when sending mail 2) Create a certificate and sign the macros 3) Create a shortcut for the categories dialog

(sorry for not directly linking - I don't have enough reputation to add more than one link :)

1) The Macros Fire up VBA Editor from Outlook (Alt+F11) and on the left double-click Project1->Microsoft Outlook Object -> ThisOutlookSession Find code for showing the box in link 1 at: http://pastebin.com/PnP7qg9t There yo'll also find the code for the reminder. Note that you can delete the lines from "Attachment check starts" to "Attachment check ends" if you don't care for that part.

2) Signing the Macros See link 2 from the paste

3) Create the shortcut See link 3 from the paste

Hope this helps!


Outlook definitly does not put this as an option in the "customize quick acces toolbar" because in the normal message (not "new" message), you can find it in "all command" "categorize". So, this is probably due to the reason that in the past you couldn't set categories when sending out and they forgot to adjust that. So macro or VB it really should be then.

  • Been searching for an hour now. Didn't find any usefull VB or macro's. BEst thing I found is the command "Message Tags". 3 clicks away is still something :-)
    – e-motiv
    Apr 29, 2011 at 14:35

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