How to Create and Categorize Notes in Outlook 2019

By Faithe Wempen

Lots of people use sticky notes to create reminders for themselves of bits of information: everything from website passwords to memorable quotations. Outlook 2019 includes Notes, which are the electronic equivalent of these sticky notes. You can store anything you want on a note, but they are best used for small bits of data, like reservation confirmation codes or membership ID numbers. You can leave a note open (as long as Outlook is open) so that you will be reminded every time you see it, or you can close the note so that it isn’t in your way.

Outlook 2019 notes

To create a note, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Notes section of Outlook.

    To do so, click the More icon (…) in the lower-left corner of the window, and on the menu that appears, click Notes.

    Outlook 2019 notes section

  2. Choose Home → New Note or press Ctrl+N.

    A new blank note appears.

    Check out these other Outlook 2019 keyboard shortcuts.

    In the new blank note that appears, type whatever you want.

    The first few words of the first line will appear as an icon title, so try to be descriptive there. Unless, of course, you’re trying to camouflage information, like a password; then you might want some misleading text as the first line. One clever user keeps her passwords in a note that is titled Family Birthdays, thinking that someone snooping to steal her passwords would not care about family birthdays and would pass that by.

  3. Close the note by clicking the X button in its upper-right corner. It’s saved automatically.

Here are some handy Outlook note tips:

  • To reopen a note: Double-click it. It remains open until you close it, or until you exit Outlook.
  • To move a note: Drag it around by its title bar (the colored bar at the top of it), placing it anywhere onscreen, even outside boundaries of the Outlook window. It stays there until you close Outlook.
  • To edit a note: Open it and edit away.
  • To change the size of the note: Click on and drag its lower-right corner.
  • To delete a note: Select it and do one of the following: Choose Home → Delete, press the Delete key on the keyboard, or right-click the note and choose Delete from the menu that opens.

Just like with a deleted contact, a deleted note is moved to the Deleted Items folder.

To retrieve a deleted note, open the Mail section of Outlook, display the contents of the Deleted Items folder, find the note, and drag it onto to the Notes icon in the lower-left corner of the window. You can also right-click it, choose Move to Folder, and then specify where you want to move it.

How to categorize your Outlook notes

Because a note is such a multipurpose item, you might find it useful to create categories to differentiate one type of note from another.

By assigning a color to a note, you can indicate what type of information it contains. For example, you might choose to make financial notes green and make family notes blue.

To assign a color category to a note

  1. Right-click the note and choose Categorize. A menu of color choices appears.
  2. Click the desired color.

If your primary/default email account is of the IMAP type, you won’t be able to use categories. If you don’t see Categorize on the right-click menu, that’s why.

If you have used this category before, you are done at this point. The note’s icon and background turn that color. However, the first time you use a certain color, the Rename Category dialog box opens, so you can assign a name. Outlook doesn’t affix any special meaning to a color; you do that on your own. If prompted, change the name in the Name box. Then click OK.

Outlook note categories

If you want to rename a category, you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Choose Home → Categories → All Categories.

    The Color Categories dialog box opens.

    Outlook color categories

  2. Click the desired category and click Rename.

    The name becomes editable.

  3. Type the new name and press Enter.

Notice in the image above that you can also create and delete categories and change the color assigned to a category. (This might be useful, for example, if you wanted to change the color used to represent a certain category but you didn’t want to lose the category information already assigned to existing notes.) You can have up to 25 categories.

A note can have multiple categories assigned to it. Each category is an on/off toggle for each note. A note’s icon shows only the color for the category last assigned to it, but it still retains its other categorization too. To remove a category from a note, select the note, click Home → Categorize, and click the category to toggle off for that note.

The categories are also shared by the Calendar and Tasks features in Outlook. As you are creating categories, think about how you might like to categorize appointments and events too.