How to migrate custom categories to other users in Outlook 2002 and in Outlook 2003

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Article ID: 297405 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q297405
For a Microsoft Outlook 2000 version of this article, see 197342.
For a Microsoft Outlook 98 version of this article, see 180303.
For a Microsoft Outlook 97 version of this article, see 164625.

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In Microsoft Outlook, you can add new categories to the default Master Category List. This article describes how to share a modified Master Category List with other users.


To share the Master Category List, export the Categories key from the registry and distribute this key to other users.

NOTE: The registry key reference in the steps below only exists if the Master Category List has had a custom entry added.

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

How to Export the Categories Key

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. Click to select one of the following registry subkeys:

    For Microsoft Outlook 2002:


    For Microsoft Office Outlook 2003:

  4. Click the Categories folder, and then click Export Registry File on the Registry menu.
  5. Select a location for the file such as your desktop, type a descriptive name for the file, and then click Save.
  6. Close the Registry Editor.
You can now distribute the file to other users that are also using Microsoft Outlook 2002. This file cannot be distributed to users of older versions of Outlook as the formats have been changed. To update the registry on another computer running Outlook 2002, double-click the <file name>.reg file and the new categories replace the Categories list in Outlook.

CAUTION: This procedure overlays the existing Master Categories List on the receiving computer. Any changes made to that file are lost.

NOTE: It is possible for your records to contain user-defined categories that are not stored in the Windows registry. To ensure they are in the registry, you must add them to the Master Category List.

How to Add User-defined Categories to the Master Category List

  1. On the Edit menu for the Inbox folder, click Categories.
  2. In the Categories dialog box, click Master Category List.
  3. In the New Category box, type the name of a new category, and then click Add.
  4. Click OK twice.


Article ID: 297405 - Last Review: January 31, 2007 - Revision: 2.2
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 Standard Edition
kbregistry kbhowto KB297405

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