Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Regenerating and maintaining Outlook's Master Category List

Outlook (all versions) stores the master category list in the stores the master category list in the registry. This is absurd, but since only a tiny number of Outlook uber-geek users care about Categories (tags in modern parlance) it’s not a big deal.

For Outlook PIM-geeks, it means changing machines deletes the list. Individual tasks retain their categories (the string is stored in the PST), but there’s no corresponding Master Category List entry.

Here’s how I regenerate under these circumstances:

  1. Export all tasks to Access. (this is easiest for me, other formats will work better for non-Access people)

  2. Dump all categories into a text editor (I use TextPad)

  3. Turn them into a list (trivial grep task) and sort with duplicate delete.

  4. Edit and cleanup.

  5. Turn into comma-separated strings.

  6. Copy and paste into the Master Category List enter box

It only took a few minutes to regenerate my MCL this way.

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