Saturday, October 24, 2009

Showing Outlook 2007 Calendar Appointments in Different Colors for Different Statuses

In Outlook 2003's calendar, appointments and meetings marked as "Free", "Tentative", "Busy", and "Out of Office" all automatically appeared differently on the calendar view to make it easy to visually distinguish them. Outlook 2007 offers the same "Show time as" options, but does not automatically visually distinguish these statuses by default.

I wanted this feature back in Outlook 2007, because I use my calendar not only to block out time for meeting and appointments which I mark as "Busy", but also as reminders for things I'd like to do if convenient, which I mark as "Free". Items I mark as "Free" are things like "Read the corporate newsletter", "Drink water", etc.

One way to visually distinguish meetings and appointments in Outlook 2007 is to manually assign each meeting and appointment a category which is associated with a color. This is what I did at first, but thought there must be a better way.

Then I figured out how to get Outlook 2007 to automatically set a different color for each meeting and appointment based on the "Show Time as" status. The steps below work as long as your meetings and appointments don't have a category assigned to them. I went back and removed all of the categories from my meetings and appointments so that this automation would automatically color them.
  1. From the "Go" menu, select "Calendar".
  2. From the "Edit" menu, select "Automatic Formatting...".
  3. In the "Automatic Formatting" window, click "Add".
  4. In the "Name" field, type "Free".
  5. In the "Color" field, select a color from the pull-down menu.
  6. Click "Condition..." button.
  7. In the "Filter" window, click "Advanced" tab.
  8. Under "Define more criteria:", click "Field" pull-down menu, then select "Frequently-used fields" then "Show Time as".
  9. Under "Condition" select "equals".
  10. Under "Value" select "Free".
  11. Click "Add to List" button.
  12. Click "OK" to close the "Filter" window.
  13. Click "OK" to close the "Automatic Formatting" window.
  14. Check your calendar. Your calendar should now show all "Free" appointments and meetings in the color you chose, except for those appointments and meetings which have a category assigned to them.
  15. Repeat above steps for "Tentative", "Busy", and "Out of Office" statuses.


Anonymous said...

Too bad these colors do not show up on the Outlook bar.
Only category colors do

Anonymous said...

Also they are entirely local - for shared calendars they aren't carried over :(
Categories do seem to be though. I wonder if there is a way to automatically categorise meetings based on their free/busy status?

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you!

I use my Outlook just like you do, and was going crazy trying to read through all my 'appointments' to find the actual meetings I had to attend.

Dan W. said...

Thank you! I have had the same problem since changing from MS Office 2003 to 2007. 2007 is better in most ways, and there is a vertical color bar along the left edge of each meeting or appointment for "Out of Office" and "Tentative" and even for "Free," but not for "Busy"!

I followed your instructions to color code Busy as blue and Out of Office as purple/violet, and now I can quickly distinguish these visually from my Free and Tentative items.

TJ said...

Has anyone discovered a way to make the color white or clear like it was in Outlook 2003?

I've tried "None" but you get the same light blue gradient fill as the default settings. I'd prefer my "Free" items to be white/clear if possible.


Sherry said...
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Sherry said...
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Sherry said...

TJ - I used the Steel color for the "Free" (third down on the far left). Another suggestion is to change the default color to the same "Free" color. (Tool, Options, Calendar Options, Default color drop down list.)

Thank you, Richard! I spent an hour searching for this solution, including taking Outlook 2007 online tutorials from Microsoft and was just about to give up when I came across your blog!

trestidlo said...

Wow, thanks for this recomendation. I wanted just to distinguis the one 'with reminders' and your manual worked perfectly.
Thanks very much

Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch. This was driving me crazy! After I upgraded to Office 2007, I could never tell my appointments apart.

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Andi said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks, this was driving me crazy after upgrading from Office 2003 to 2007. This was very helpful!

KWatkins_AThotmail said...

I hope you're not getting tired of hearing how great it is to find this workaround! I'm awfully tired of struggling to kludge together some imitation of the features that made Office 2003 work well for me. This is one of the better tricks. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I wonder why MS has not allow a global color for telecommuters so co-workers don't try to visit people when they are not in the office but working somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I used this method in 2010 to mark my "Busy" times in Red, but it does not seem to work for re-curring meetings -- in particular if I used Show time as Busy on individual Occurrences. Have you seen that?


Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich...this worked in Outlook 2010 as well:

From Calendar, click View on the ribbon. Click View Settings, Conditional Formatting. Add "Busy" and select the color, click Condition, click Advanced, from Field chose Frequently used and Show time As, leave condition as equal and chose Value = Busy, Add and repeat or close. said...

Does anyone know why the unaccepted appointments no longer show up on the calendar in 2007?

Alice said...

Thanks so very much. This is great information. This was a huge frustration for me with my new Outlook 2010! It's a little different for 2010, but between your comments and the other poster, I was able to figure it out. Here is some more detail for Outlook 2010 to save others some time/frustration. Here you go-->View tab then View Settings/Conditional formatting/Add/type Busy/pick your color from the drop down/then click Condition/Advanced/then click Field/frequently used fields/
Show time as/under value choose 'busy'/ then click add to list/then click all the 'ok' buttons until it's saved. Repeat for free/tentative/out of office using different colors and you are all set!

Ben said...

Thank you! You'd think MS would make this functionality more obvious but what do I know?
One question: I found that changing the status of one occurrence in a recurring meeting series (say from "Busy" to "Free")doesn't change the colour of that occurence - it stays the same as the series status. Do you know any way to fix that?

Anonymous said...

thank you, i had that in my old pc but did not know how to do it again!
it took me two minutes and will provide lots of efficiency gain!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Exactly what I was looking for. Cheers !

Anonymous said...

Thank you!!!
Saved me a lot of time searching for a solution.

Anonymous said...

This is still useful and works a treat, thanks