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Visual difference between Appointments and Meetings in the Calendar

I remember that in older versions of Outlook, Meeting items in the Calendar had an icon of 2 heads on them. This allowed you to easily tell them apart from Appointment items.

Is there any way to get this back or otherwise have something to easily see what is an Appointment and what is a Meeting item?

Button Appointment vs. MeetingUp until Outlook 2003, Meeting items indeed had the Meeting icon on them. For unknown reasons, this icon had been removed in Outlook 2007 (together with Bell icon, which however saw a return in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013).

To still create a visual distinction between Appointment and Meeting items, you can use Conditional Formatting.

As Conditional Formatting is quite flexible, I’ll show you some additional examples how you can make it much more than just a simple icon replacement to highlight Meetings.

Required Attendees

As basically all Meeting items have “Required Attendees” we can use this field to base the Conditional Formatting rule on as the following is true:

  • Calendar items which have you as both the Organizer and the only Required Attendee are appointments.
  • Calendar items which have you as the Organizer while the Required Attendee field is empty are appointments.
  • The above statements are true unless they only have Optional Attendees (which is quite rare for most). In that case, see the “Optional Attendees only” section.

To show all the Appointments in another color, create the following Conditional Formatting rule with 3 criteria:

  1. Open the Conditional Formatting dialog
    • Outlook 2007
      View-> Current View-> Customize Current View…-> Automatic Formatting…
    • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
      tab View-> button View Settings-> Conditional Formatting…
  2. Button: Add
  3. Name your rule. For instance: Appointments
  4. Select a color for your rule.
  5. Press the Condition… button.
  6. Select the Advanced tab.
  7. Add the following criteria:
    • Field: Required Attendees
    • Condition: is (exactly)
    • Value: <your display name>
  8. Add the following criteria:
    • Field: Required Attendees
    • Condition: is empty
  9. Add the following criteria:
    • Field: Organizer
    • Condition: is (exactly)
    • Value: <your display name>
  10. OK yourself out of all the open dialogs to return to the Calendar.

Conditional Formatting - The 3 filter criteria to find Appointment items and highlight them.
The 3 filter criteria to find Appointment items and highlight them.

Note 1: Category colors will overrule Conditional Formatting colors.

Note 2: To clarify the example above; As we have specified the Required Attendees field twice, at least one of them must be true (OR condition). In all cases, the Organizer condition has to be true as well (AND).

Optional Attendees only

If you happen to have Meeting items with only Optional Attendees, add the following Conditional Formatting rule above the “Appointments” rule and set its color to “None”.

  • Field: Optional Attendees
  • Condition: is not empty

You can name this rule for instance: Meetings (Optional Attendees only)

Highlight Meetings rather than Appointments

If you prefer to highlight the Meetings rather than the Appointments, do the following:

  1. Change the color of the “Meetings (Optional Attendees only)” rule to a color of your liking.
  2. Change the color of the “Appointments” rule to “None” or another color than you picked in step 1.
  3. Create a new rule called “Meetings” without any criteria and place it under the “Appointments” rule. Change the color for this rule to the same one that you picked in step 1 or another one but is at least different from the one you picked in step 2. Ignore the warning that you get when applying the rule.

Conditional Formatting - Rules to highlight Meetings in a different color than Appointments
Mind the sorting order when adding rules.
The first one that applies colors the item.

Meetings for which I am an Optional Attendee

The beauty of Conditional Formatting is, is that you can customize it to your liking. For instance, you can assign a different color to Meetings for which you are an “Optional Attendee” rather than a “Required Attendee”.

To do this, create a new rule called for instance “Meetings (Optional for me)” and place it above the “Meetings (Optional Attendees only)” rule or, if you did not create this one, above the “Appointments” rule. Pick a color you haven’t used before and set the following criteria:

  • Field: Optional Attendees
  • Condition: contains
  • Value: <your display name>

Conditional Formatting - Rules to highlight Holidays, Birthday, Anniversaries, Meetings and Appointment all in a different color.
While you are at it, why not also add some Conditional Formatting rules to highlight Holidays, Birthdays and Anniversaries?

Conditional Formatting - Example to highlight Holidays, Birthday, Anniversaries, Meetings and Appointment all in a different color.An example of how the final result could look like in your Calendar.

Of course you can choose colors which are less bright ;-).



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