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Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Inbox Using Color [Quick Tip]

Like everyone these days, I get a lot of emails.  A few years ago I stumbled across a feature of Microsoft Outlook which helps prevent me from missing important emails, namely from my Boss or an important customer.  If nothing else, it’s a straightforward and easy way to triage your Inbox using Color Codes.


The feature I’m talking is the Outlook Organize.  I’m honestly not sure what it’s called, but we’re going with that.  😉


First, let’s Color Code all new emails from the Important Person Red and then Color all new emails sent Only to me Blue.  This setup will be handy since emails sent Only to me typically means they are waiting for a response.


1.   Open Outlook and Click on an email from your Manager (or someone else important)

Organize Microsoft Outlook Inbox using Colors


2.   Click Using Colors Tab, and Verify the remaining settings (To or From, Name and Color), Click Apply Color when ready

Organize Microsoft Outlook Inbox using Colors


2a.   From the same menu above, Click Turn On to color all emails sent Only to Me Blue (or pick your color)


3.   Click the X on the far right to Exit the Organize Options

Organize Microsoft Outlook Inbox using Colors


The changes are instantaneous, and the variations using Colors are limitless.


Very groovy tip when I found it, and I hope you enjoy it.  Would love to hear any comments!


If anyone has any Quick-Tips they use all the time, please let us know here or in our !


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26 Responses to Organize Your Microsoft Outlook Inbox Using Color [Quick Tip]

  1. JohnT February 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    I honestly had no idea that was there. Just enabled both the settings and lovin it!

  2. MrGroove February 22, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    @JohnT – Yup. I used outlook for a long time before I noticed the feature. Will try to find and write about more of these for the groovy community!

    • Santi February 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi MrGroove,

      How about for Microsoft Outlook 2010. Does this option available? I’m already tried hard to find it, but no way it can organize colour for the contact addresses.

  3. Tara March 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article. I enabled it yesterday at work for my boss. Thank you!

  4. Angie May 14, 2009 at 6:32 am #

    YES! I accidentally stumbled across this feature back in 2006 and forgot how to find it and use it when I started with my new job this year. Thanks!

  5. will May 20, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    hi all, i have a problem when i set this Orgnaize like this “from zhang, leo in red “, after apply color, the mail from “zhang, leo” turns red but also the mail form “Yuan, Leo” turns red too . i only want to set the mail form “zhang, leo” turns red. so ,how to make it , thks u all for reply

  6. Craig Sanders September 23, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Will, the way to keep Outlook from coloring messages from everybody who shares the same first or last name is to enclose the name you want in quotation marks. Follow the usual steps to color all messages from Zhang, Leo, but before you click Apply, put quotes around his name: “Zhang, Leo”. This will keep Outlook from coloring everyone else named Leo too.

    • MrGroove September 23, 2009 at 10:50 am #

      @Craig Sanders,
      Thanks for answering that for Will Craig! Great Tip!

    • David Bigelow April 13, 2012 at 8:47 am #

      Thank you so much. I’ve struggled with that for years.

  7. Johnno April 1, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Ok, here is a unique problem I have with this feature.
    I have set this up but we have two people in the office with the same last name and I only want 1 of them to show up as “Red”.

    I.e. I want “Smith, Jane” to be “red” but when I assign “Smith, Jane” do that messages from “Smith, John” are also highlighted “red”

    Has anyone else experienced this problem before, or does anyone know how I can solve this minor (annoying) dilemma?

    • MrGroove April 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

      @Johnno – The solution should actually be fairly easy to fix. All you need to do is CLick on the Advanced Formatting Button on the top right of the screen as shown in the image on Step #3.

      From there you need to Click Add, give it a name, Click Font to configure the color and font, then Click Condition to setup the rule.

      The rule is easy after clicking Condition. Just Click the From button and fill out the person you want to configure (color) then Click OK. Again, you can make it as complicated as you want in condition which is cool because there are so many options.

      Play around with it and let us know if you figure it out!

  8. Valerie April 27, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    When I move my color coded e-mail from my inbox to a different folder, it maintains the color coding. When my coworker moves hers, it changes to black. Is there a setting that she needs to change so that her color coding will stay when she moves the messages to different folders?

  9. Robbie August 2, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    When I changed the colors for my boss, all the font sizes changed as well and aren’t as large as he had them before; I helped another co-worker change her colors, but the font size in her inbox did not shrink (I don’t think); how can I enlarge the font size in my boss’s inbox?

    • MrGroove August 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

      So you followed the tutorial on your Boss’s computer or just emails FROM your Boss to YOU?

      • Robbie August 23, 2010 at 9:02 am #

        I changed the colors on both his computer and mine. Problem is, I don’t have large fonts so it’s no problem for me. He does have larger fonts and for every color he selected, the font decreased to 8pt. Is there a way to change the color in Outlook 2003 without it reducing the font size to 8pt?

  10. Paul August 18, 2010 at 2:56 am #

    This is a very good tip, and have been using it in the past. How do you do the same in Oultook 2010? I have hunted high and low to no avail


  11. Jane R. March 2, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    When I set the color green for email From Simth, the Outlook apply the same color to an email From Brown if Smith is among its multiple receivers. Could you help to fix it? Truly appreciated! Jane

  12. Victor April 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    There are also a few other options available. Now, for e.g., there is available in Outlook Priority Inbox. It does not come from Google, however you can still download it for free from : htp:// because the add-in is still in beta. Of course, you can contribute by sending feedback.

  13. chf November 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    When I colse Outlook and re-open my categorie colors are not on the e-mails. Can you help?

  14. Gavin Mack January 5, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    This has been bugging me for a long time but how to you color mail sent to you when there are other people in the TO box

    in the advanced settings there is option “on the to line with other people” but if i select it doesnt change anything!

    • Steve Krause July 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

      What version of outlook are you using @6da3e05cf670819d6733bc0c8105d36e:disqus ?

  15. Andrew Cormie July 30, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Stumbled across your site and this information when looking for a way to change the colours of Outlook Folders, for instance to change all of the Archive folders to another colour. Have not found any way to do this. Do you know any way?
    Regarding the colouring of the email texts – this is very useful – thanks a lot for advising of it.

  16. Paul August 16, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I work with differnt companies and each of these companies have folders with similar names thus it would be very helpful for organizing and searching if I could apply color (by company) to the “folders”. I am certainly not a programer but this seams like it would be a smple enhancement thus I am worndering if it has been done and if there is away to do this. Does anyone know if it can be done?

  17. Tammy December 9, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    I’ve used this for years, but my color reverts back to black sometimes. I reboot my computer, and it’s all still showing in black. I’ve looked on line and can’t find a reason for this. I set a lot of colors up, so it’s a pain to have to set them up every 6 months or so.

  18. Kathir August 6, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Hi, is there any option to change folder colors in outlook 2010?

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