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Did you know that you can use Automatic Formatting rules in Outlook to help you triage your mail with color? For example, you can make all of the mail sent directly to you blue, or all of the mail from your boss extra large. That way, when you look at your e-mail first thing in the morning, the most important e-mails pop out:
How to set up Automatic Formatting Rules
The easiest way to turn on automatic formatting is to go to the Tools menu and click Organize… A pane will appear above the mail list and the reading pane:
In this pane, you can turn on the automatic formatting rule mail sent only to me in <choose your color> and a rule to color message from or sent to a particular person. These automatic formatting rules will only apply to the current folder. (To turn off the Organize Pane, click on the X in the upper right corner.)
Automatic formatting rules are cumulative, so you can create one rule that sets any mail sent to you blue and any mail sent from your boss to a larger font, so when you receive mail that satisfies both rules, that e-mail will really stand out.
Advanced Automatic Formatting
If you want to get more sophisticated with the types of automatic formatting rules that you create, you can click the Automatic Formatting button in the upper right corner of the pane. You can also get to this dialog from the main Outlook window by selecting View, Current View, Customize Current View, and then clicking on Automatic Formatting.
To add a new automatic formatting rule, click Add. You can then name your rule in the space provided. To adjust the appearance of items matching the rule condition, click Font to display the Font dialog. From here, you can select font, size, color, and style.
Clicking Condition displays the Filter dialog (shown below) and allows you to control when the font formatting you selected is applied.
You can use this dialog to establish just about any condition you want. For example, in this case I’ve added a condition that looks for the word “outlook” in the subject or message body of an e-mail message. I can then apply special formatting to make sure I see e-mail messages that mention Outlook.
On the More Choices tab, you can select additional options:
If you want to have conditions based on fields that are not displayed elsewhere in the Filter dialog, you can use the Advanced tab and select custom fields or less common built-in fields to match against as well.
Works on the Calendar Too!
Automatic formatting doesn’t just apply to e-mail. It works on the Calendar too! You can create rules on your calendar that automatically color your appointments based on a set of criteria. To get to the Automatic Formatting dialog shown below, just right click anywhere on the calendar surface and select Automatic Formatting (the last option in the menu).
Click Add, provide a name for the rule, choose a color, and set a condition. Items on your calendar will now be automatically colored based on the conditions you selected!
It is also worth mentioning that you can manually color any appointment using Color Categories. To do so, just right click on the appointment and select Categorize from the menu.
Melissa MacBethOutlook Program Manager
This is coool. I try it once to apply the following rule : All Mails sent by e-mails from Friends category make it with red e.g. but it fails It seems that I have to apply this rule manually for every e-mail address. Thanks
There is a limitation of using automatic formatting when the criteria is to look in the body of a message. I explain this in a post on my site. In a nutshell, there is a "by design" limitation where only the first 256 characters of the message body are searched, for performance reasons. The workaround is to use a rule (which isn't suspect to the limitation) to apply a category to the message and then use automatic formatting to look at the category.
Is there a way to configure category colors across multiple users? We use sharepoint 2003 and server 2003 with office professional 2007. I would like to mandate certain color schemes for different kind of appointments on a shared calendar.
I am tranfering data from one computer to a new one. I used the file tranfer wizard. I exported outlook 2007 to a pst file for the outlook date. It didn't transfer my calendar automatic formatting settings. Is there a file on the old computer that contains those settings? thanks
How do I make this work for all my folders? For example, I have about 100 folders inside Inbox and would like to color all emails in all folders sent from a particular persion.
Albert, Unfortunately, automatic formatting rules have to be set on each folder. -Melissa
I have been using this feature for about a year but every few months the rules clear themselves and I have to start over. Is there anyway to prevent this from happening?
How do I give the "coloring" rules in Outlook 2007 a heirarchy? For example I would like my Automatic Formatting rules to take precedence over the topic colors that Outlook has assigned. I can't seem to find a way to do that. Anyone?
Is there any way to have Calendar Automatic Formatting rules (for color) take precedence over Category coloring? Once I assign a meeting a Category, I loose the Automatic Formatting. (Outlook 2007)
"Is there any way to have Calendar Automatic Formatting rules (for color) take precedence over Category coloring? Once I assign a meeting a Category, I loose the Automatic Formatting. (Outlook 2007)" Same here :(