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Make Important Email Standout in Outlook with Color Coding

by on January 14, 2011
in Computers and Software, Software & Games, Productivity, Tips & How-Tos, Tech 101 :: 7 comments

To make sure emails from important contacts stand out and do not go unnoticed, you can set up a rule that makes the email appear in a specific color or a specific size and type of font. For example, you can make emails from your boss appear in a larger font or have emails from family members all appear in red. To set up the way emails are displayed for Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007:

For Outlook 2010:

  1. Go to the View tab
    Outlook View tab
  2. Select View Settings
    Outlook Conditional Formatting
  3. Choose Conditional Formatting
    Conditional Formatting
  4. Click Add
  5. Name your rule
  6. Click on Font and pick a color, style and size and click OK
    Outlook Font selection
  7. Click on Condition
    Outlook Condition
  8. Type in the email address of the sender or senders you want to highlight. For multiple people, separate the emaill addresses with a semicolon.

For Outlook 2007:

  1. Go to the Tools menu outlook tools menu
  2. Select Organize, Using Colors
  3. Then choose specific colors for emails from specific people
  4. More advanced automatic settings for applying font type and size to emails can be added by selecting Automatic Formatting in the top right corner of the Using Colors screen
  5. Click “Add” to create more rules

When you're finished creating your rule, important email will stand out.

Discussion loading


Given that macs make up

From James Eliot on January 18, 2011 :: 11:15 am

Given that macs make up the majority of computers for early adopters, and an even higher percentage for female early tech adopters, you might note that the color coding of email works easily in Mac Mail as well. 

Merely go to Mail > Preferences > Rules and add a rule that assigns a color to specific senders as you designate.
Keep up the good work.  By the way, I really liked the daily coverage of CES.



Macs do not appear to have this feature under rules

From Paco V. on February 12, 2012 :: 2:12 am

Outlook from mac does not appear to have an option to modify colors, nor modify fonts under rule actions.

I have not been able to “merely” go to Mail > Preferences > Rules and add a rule that assigns a color to senders, recipients, etc…

Are there extra steps or commands that might be missing?





From Cynthia Tews on September 30, 2014 :: 2:12 pm

Outlook is so unintuitive, I could not for the life of me figure out how to color code. Your article was the only thing that helped me!



Awesome, thanks....

From Cynthia H on April 01, 2016 :: 11:38 am

great instructions…made this task very easy! Thanks



How do I send color coded email ?

From Jacob T on July 14, 2016 :: 10:28 pm

I occasionally get an email in Outlook that stands out by its red color, as opposed to all the emails in the list that are plain black.  How can I send an email that will show up on the receivers side in red color ?



Color is controlled by the receiver, not the sender.

From Josh Kirschner on July 15, 2016 :: 8:44 am

The color coding in Outlook is controlled by the receiver of the messages (based on their Outlook settings), not the sender. If you are seeing messages in red, it may because they were sent as “high priority”. You can check your own Outlook settings to see which messages default to red on your end and, perhaps, your recipient will have it set up the same way. Also, this only applies to Outlook. If the person is reading those messages on a mobile device or via the web (e.g., Google Mail), settings will be different.



Still not working :(

From Jill on January 31, 2017 :: 11:00 am

I went through all these steps and even rebooted my system and the color code rule is not working. Any additional tips? Should I select Reset View to make the change occur?


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