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Labelling in Outlook 2003 ala Gmail

Extend Outlook 2003 to easily categorize mails.

I found that moving mails into project folders, when the mails are still on an open topic takes too much time. Gmail’s "label" idiom really helps in this situation. Turns out we can do that with Outlook 2003 too with some small macro work. First, see my entry on how to put macros and arrange toolbar in Outlook 2003. Then add the following macro to the module. Duplicate the second subroutine to as many as you’ve categories and then put toolbar entries for each of those. I think you should be able to do with less than 10 categories. At times you may get mails on an old subject, which you can just read and act and archive directly without tracking it.

Sub SetCategory(strCat As String)
   Dim Item As Object
   Dim SelectedItems As Selection
   Set SelectedItems = Outlook.ActiveExplorer.Selection
   For Each Item In SelectedItems
   With Item
    .Categories = strCat
    End With
   Next Item
End Sub

Sub SetCategoryAdmin()
    SetCategory ("Admin")
End Sub

Additionally, you can go to View - Arrange By - Current View - Customize Current View and add conditional formatting to show the mails belonging to different categories in different colors. You can also add Categories to the list of columns in the view to easily sort and group by that.

Best thing about this? If you tag a mail and reply, when others reply to that mail, your categorization is retained. Of course, if some one else changes the category, you are in trouble! There are much more powerful add-ins available for Outlook to do all this and more. But this is cheap, secure and works well if you don’t faint when typing in VBA code.