How can I move my Outlook Master Category List to another machine?
Outlook categories are a fairly powerful way to categorize and organize
email, appointments, tasks … just about any object that Outlook is
capable of tracking. Categories are arbitrary text, but you can create a
“Master List” of categories to choose from to ensure consistency and
avoid a bit of possibly error prone typing.
Unfortunately, while you can edit your master category list to your
heart’s content, Outlook doesn’t yet provide a way to export or import
one. It’s also not obvious where the list is kept.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
It’s probably not surprising that the list is kept in the registry.
It’s stored as a REG_BINARY entry as a Unicode string.
It’s a slightly different location for each version of
The best way to manage your master category list in that case is to:
- Create the master category list you want in Outlook.
- Use the registry editor to save the category list registry entry to
disk as a .reg file.
- “Execute” that .reg file to install that master category list on
other computers running outlook that should have the same list. Note that
on these computers any prior master category list will be replaced with
this new one.
It’s really not too bad. Here are the Microsoft Support articles
that describe the process for each version of Outlook:
Why is there no user interface? My guess is that it comes down
to the old feature versus schedule tradeoff. The demand for a user interface
for this didn’t warrant the additional time and expense to design, develop,
and test it. But that’s just speculation on my part.