Outlook.com Contact categories

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New Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 64 bit
Email Account
Outlook.com (as MS Exchange)
I was migrated about a month ago. The feature I was most looking forward to was contact categories. Having had a chance to dig around I find that categories in the outlook client are still not updated in Outlook.com. And further the edit screen on outlook.com shows no edit field for group, list or category. Have I missed something important or is there an explanation? Any help much appreciated
John Reeves
Did you remove the account from outlook and add it back using auto account setup?

In the web interface, they are called Contact lists and are listed under New and also under Lists. You can't view or manage categories on contacts in the web interface but can categorize them in outlook. (If they are assigned, you can use the Category list in the nav pane to view them, but not much else - more at the end.)


The master list online might have some white categories - these won't sync to outlook desktop. The white ones are automatic categories used for filtering online. They work more like Search folders- you can list them in the folder list and quickly filter the view. AFAIK, you can't delete them.

If the category has color, it will sync down.

In this screenshot, My Contacts is my only category and syncs. The others were used by the old outlook.com to filter mail.


These are the options- Show in folder pane lists the folder in the navigation pane so you can select it as if it's a Search Folder. Filter column adds it to the filter list under all in the message list. (See next shot) I cannot add, edit, or delete the predefined categories.

Only the personal categories sync to Outlook on the desktop. [It's possible that a future build will change this - so they might eventually sync down too.]


This is a test mailbox and most of the contents are newsletters - so most of the predefined categories are useless to me but I'll select some as an example. (The server automatically categorizes the messages as they arrive. )

If you want to view contacts in a category, you need to have that category on the nav pane - and can only use it in the Mail pane (although you can't do anything but view the list of names).

Thank you Diane. I had forgotten your instructions to recreate the accounts!
So I did recreate them but still no joy. Some changed data eg name is reflected on .com but absolutely no category information. I take your point about it not being maintainable on .com. I remain bemused.

Yesterday on both my windows clients I lost saved personalised views and folders reverted to showing the the reading pane which I don't use. Could this be a result of software updates?

I have used Outlook for ~25 years but am increasingly frustrated. I have dumped the android client as not being fit for purpose and this latest batch of problems is hideous.

Anyway thank you for your help and suggestions
John Reeves
Views are stored in the default mailbox - you lost them because you changed accounts. If the outlook.com wasn't the default account before, the (All folders) views are weren't lost, they are still in the formerly-default data file but aren't easily accessible. The good news in all of this: views will sync up to the server when you use Exchange, so you'll have the same views everywhere you open the account. Unfortunately, you'll need to recreate.

Can you post a screenshot of the categories list in outlook and online? there could be something I'm missing that the pictures might help with.
I am not sure the categories will help, I'm afraid. The client list is what I want to use (infact what I used to use) but for the contacts I have not reapplied them, other than a test group, since I lost them a few years ago. The contacts categories on the server are from an attempt a couple of years ago to implement them on the then server. So the Restaurant category has NOT been uploaded from records on the client. I believe no categories have been uploaded, only some other data, like name changes. I hope that is fairly clear. Image file is attached
As ever any suggestion will be gratefully received


  • categories.jpg
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Very basic question as I am now doubting everything!
In outlook client my account is still showing as ExchangeActiveSync. Is this correct
Sorry to have to come back to this subject.
Over the last 5 days I have spent about 8 hours trying to set up 'automatically' the MS Exchange account. I finally succeeded a short while ago. I got there by changing aliases from the ones that I had previously set up. Everything seems to be ok except........... the account name is a hex number@outlook.com. I tried your registry fix but don't have/can't find the 0000...n record you refer to. AND
In outlook.com calendar colour categories are now updated ! Contact categories are still NOT updating on the server though other data is. None of the 3 or 4 categories I have updated on the client show as list options in outlook.com. There has been, as far as I can see, no change from before I was using the Exchange account.
Any suggestions welcome
Update. I have found the registry key. When I update it, it shows the new value for a minute or two and then reverts to the hex value. Both after restarting and rebooting
Final Update . A short while after, the categories started appearing in the mail navigation pane. So I can now enjoy the 'rich new functionality' on Outlook.com. As Diane implies above it is all very meagre. What I expected and wanted was that categories would flow down to other clients. I did that with an almost free synch program until about 5 years ago. I will just stop wishing for it. Somewhere on my recent outlook travels I did come across a new maintainable field 'significant other'. Now I didn't know I needed that.

Personally I am not happy with the developments in Outlook but I guess this is not the time or place. My problems with the upgrade to Exchange Services have been really, really frustrating. And I thought stress levels would be reduced in retirement!

Thank you for your help Diana
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