How to Create New Folders to Organize Mail in Outlook

Stay organized with Outlook folders, subfolders, and categories

What to Know

  • In Outlook: Right-click Inbox in the left pane and select New Folder. Type a name, and press Enter.
  • On Outlook.com: Select New Folder at the bottom of your folder list in the left pane, type a name, and press Enter.
  • To make categories in Outlook, Home > Categorize > All Categories; online, select a message, then Categorize > Manage categories.

This article covers how to create and use folders, subfolders, and categories to organize your email in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010, as well as Outlook.com.

How to Make an Outlook Mail Folder

To create a new folder in Outlook:

  1. In the left navigation pane of Outlook Mail, select your Inbox folder.

    Outlook with the Inbox highlighted
  2. Right-click and select New Folder.

    New Folder option in Outlook
  3. Type a name for the folder in the box that appears.

    Naming a folder in Outlook
  4. Press Enter.

  5. To create a subfolder, select the folder you want it to be in and follow the above instructions.

Use Categories to Color-Code Messages

To set up category preferences in Outlook, select Home > Categorize > All Categories. You'll have the option to add, delete, and rename categories, and to assign a shortcut key to categories. To do this in Outlook.com, select a message and select Categorize > Manage categories. In the Categories dialog, you can add or delete categories and indicate whether you want them to appear in the Favorites list.

To apply a category color to an email:

  1. Open an email in the message list.

  2. Select Categorize in the Tags group of the Home tab.

    Categories section in Outlook
  3. Choose the category you want to apply to the email. A color indicator appears next to the email in the message list and the header of the opened email.

    Categories in Outlook

Alternatively:

  1. In the message list, right-click the email you want to categorize.

  2. Select Categorize in the menu that appears.

    Screenshot of Categorize in right-click menu
  3. Choose the category you want to apply to the email. A color indicator appears next to the mail in the message list and the header of the opened email.

    Categories in Outlook

Does an email message fit into more than one category? Apply multiple color codes to that email message.

Create a New Folder in Outlook.com

To set up. a new folder:

  1. Select New folder. The New folder link is located at the bottom of your folder list. A blank text box appears at the end of the folders list.

    New Folder option on Outlook.com
  2. Type a name for the folder. 

    A new folder on Outlook.com
  3. Press Enter.

Create a Subfolder in Outlook.com 

To create a new folder as a subfolder of an existing Outlook.com folder:

  1. Right-click on the folder under which you want to create the new subfolder. Be careful to choose items from the Folders list and not the Favorites list.

  2. Select Create new subfolder from the context menu that appears. A text box appears beneath the folder you right-clicked on.

  3. Type a name for the new folder.

  4. Press Enter to save the subfolder.

The same steps work for creating deeper subfolders under any new subfolders. Simply repeat these four steps for each subfolder you want to create. You can also drag a folder in the list and drop it on top of a different folder to make it a subfolder.

Using Folders and Categories

Drag individual messages from your Inbox or any other folder to the new folders you make to organize your email. You can also right-click a message, select Move, and choose a folder you want to move an email to.

You can even set up rules in Outlook to filter emails from specific senders to a folder or apply a category so that you don't have to do it manually.

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