The Power of Quick-Click Categories in Outlook

July 30, 2011

Have you made use of the Quick-Click Category feature in Outlook yet? If you haven’t, you should.

What is it? You have probably noticed in Windows Outlook (only in Outlook 2007 and 2010) that if you click in the Categories column next to an e-mail item, it places a Red category in there. This is a normal left-click and in pops in instantly—it’s very easy and very quick.

So what you ask?

Well, you should use this instead of using the red flag for most items you want to “flag.” Why?  Because starting in 2007, the red flag is now intended only for action items. And, to reinforce that intention, Outlook puts a copy of the flagged mail in your To-Do Bar to remind you to take the action later. (As an aside don’t forget this: per my MYN teachings, the only actions you should flag this way are deferred replies—e-mails you intend to reply to in a day or two—otherwise, if it’s a longer-term action, you should create a true task for it by dragging the e-mail to the Tasks banner button or icon in the left corner of your Outlook window; see Lesson 7 in my Outlook books for more info on this).

So what about e-mails you just want to mark as “important”? By that, I mean e-mails for which there is no action to take, but you just want to mark them so you can find them later? Well, I call those “Key E-mails” and I set the Quick Click setting in Outlook to mark those with a red rectangle that has the “Key E-mail” name on it in the Categories column. That way, with one-quick click, I can “flag” an item without it going into the To-Do Bar task list—that prevents extra clutter in the To-Do Bar.

So, how do you do that setting? Well, you could just leave the settings as-is and “know” that Red equals “Key-E-mail” and start using it now. But better is to change the name of the Red category to literally say “Key-E-mail.” You do that by going into the All Categories window and renaming the item there (right click in the Categories column, and choose All Categories from the bottom of the menu, find the Red item and rename it).

But what if you want to change which category Quick Click chooses with one click? You find the control for that also by right-clicking in the Categories column, but this time you choose Set Quick Click… from the bottom of the menu. Then pick the category you want in the menu the pops up.

So I recommend you do this. If you do, from now on, every time you see a mail that has no action but you just want to mark it as “important for later,” you can click it once, and it gets set as a Key E-mail instantly. Start doing this today instead of using the flag for those things. And reserve the actual flag only for deferred replies from now on—you’ll be glad you did!

Michael

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2 Responses to The Power of Quick-Click Categories in Outlook

  1. outlook user says:

    -stumbled on your web site while trying to resolve some Outlook issues.
    Here is one.
    I keep running notes on’ Tasks’ for each of my clients.
    For one client; 1) their Task file has frozen shut. cannot open it.
    2)their file name in the task list has duplicated about 5 times. None will open.
    Where can I turn to for advice ?

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