Typing categories instead of selecting

In Outlook 2003 and previous, I could type my categories directly. With Outlook 2007, I can only select categories. I've got many categories and scrolling through the list is a rather cumbersome process.

Is there any way to assign categories again by typing them instead of selecting them?

This method indeed has changed with the new Color Categories system introduced in Outlook 2007 and which is maintained in Outlook 2010. However, it is still possible to work in a similar method.

All Categories list

You can bring up the All Categories list by right clicking on a message-> Categorize-> All Categories… or by using the Categorize command on the toolbar/Ribbon.

In this list you can still type to quickly jump to the category of choice by typing the first few letters of the category name. Once your preferred category gets highlighted, press the space bar on your keyboard to select it. Simply repeat the process for any additional category which you may want to assign.

The downside of this method is that you cannot directly create new categories this way. You’ll have to use the New… button for this first.

Category field for contacts

If you are using categories for you contacts, then you can also do this in a different way;

  1. Open the contact from your Contacts folder by double clicking it.
  2. From the Show group in the Ribbon select All Fields.
  3. Set the “Select from” dropdown list to: Frequently-used fields.
  4. Locate the Categories field and type your categories in the Value column.
    You can separate categories with a ; or a ,

This method is great to directly create new categories as well. The downside of this method is that new categories won’t be assigned a color nor will they show up in the Master Category list. In order to have them show up there, you’ll have to rerun the “Upgrade to Color Categories” process manually.