How to Create Folders to Organize Mail in Outlook

Stay organized with Outlook folders, subfolders, and categories

How to Create Folders in Outlook
File Folders. Flickr/dskley

Anyone who receives a large amount of email can benefit from creating folders in and Outlook 2016. Whether you choose to label them "Clients," "Family," "Bills," or any number of other choices, they simplify your Inbox and help you organize your mail. If you want to add subfolders—say one for each member of your family—inside a folder, you can do that too. Outlook also provides categories you can assign to individual emails. Use custom email folders, subfolders and categories to organize your Outlook Mail account.

Moving Messages in Outlook Out of the Inbox

If you want to store mail in a place other than the main Inbox, you need to learn how to create folders in Outlook. Adding folders is easy; you can name them as you choose and organize the folders in hierarchies using subfolders. To organize messages, you can also use categories.

How to Create a New Folder in

To add a new top-level folder to, log in to your account on the web and then:

  1. Hover your mouse over Inbox on the navigation panel to the left of the main screen.
  2. Click the plus sign that appears next to Inbox
  3. Type the name you want to use for the new custom folder in the field that appears at the bottom of the list of folders.
  4. Click Enter to save the folder.

How to Create a Subfolder in 

To create a new folder as a subfolder of an existing folder:

  1. Right-click (or Control-click) on the folder under which you want to create the new subfolder.
  2. Select Create new subfolder from the context menu that appears.
  3. Type the new folder's desired name in the field provided.
  4. Click Enter to save the subfolder.

You can also click and drag a folder in the list and drop it on top of a different folder to make it a subfolder.

After you've created several new folders, you can click on an email and use the Move to option at the top of the Mail screen to move the message to one of the new folders.

How to Add a New Folder in Outlook 2016

Adding a new folder to the folder pane in Outlook 2016 is similar to the web process: 

  1. In the left navigation pane of Outlook Mail, right-click the area where you want to add the folder.
  2. Click New Folder.
  3. Enter a name for the folder.
  4. Press Enter.

Click and drag individual messages from your Inbox (or any other folder) to the new folders you make to organize your email.

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

Use Categories to Color Code Your Messages

You can use the default color codes or personalize them by setting up your category preferences. To do this in, you go to the Settings Gear > Options > Mail > Layout > Categories. There, you can select the colors and categories and indicate whether you want them to appear at the bottom of the folder pane, where you click to apply them to individual emails. You can also access the available categories from the More icon.

To apply a category color to an email using the More icon:

  1. Click on the email in the message list.
  2. Click the three-horizontal-dot More icon at the top of the screen. 
  3. Select Categories in the drop-down menu.
  4. Click on the color code or 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.

The process is similar in Outlook. Locate the Categories icon in the ribbon and place a check in the box next to colors you want to use or rename. Then, click individual emails and apply the color code. You can apply more than one color code to each email if you are a particularly organized individual.