Outlook search for blank category [HOW TO]

by Vladimir Popescu
Vladimir Popescu
Vladimir Popescu
Managing Editor
Being an artist his entire life while also playing handball at a professional level, Vladimir has also developed a passion for all things computer-related. With an innate fascination... read more
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Outlook search for blank category
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A great number of users have reported not being able to search for a blank category (no value set) inside Outlook.

Here is what one user had to say about this issue on the Microsoft Answers forum:

In Outlook 2016, search does not show flags or categories in the results list.  These columns are blank even for emails assigned to a category or are flagged.  Flags and categories are still seen in the preview pane.  This is only a problem with search; when looking at the inbox or other folder without searching flags and categories show in the list as they should.

For these reasons in this article, we will explore some of the best methods to try and fix this issue once and for all. Read on to find out how to do it.

How to search for a blank category in Outlook?

1. Choose a single view

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Select the View tab.
  3. Click on Change view -> choose Single.
  4. Now, if you search for the emails, you will see the flags and categories in the search results.

2. Use brackets in your search query

  1. Click inside the query field and add open and closed bracket characters instead of the value you would normally search for.
  2. In order to achieve the opposite results, and find items without any value whatsoever, use NOT before using the brackets.

Here are some examples of this method:

  • To find messages without a subject – subject: [ ]
  • To find messages with no category – category: [ ]
  • To search for messages which have any category assigned – NOT category: [ ]
  • For contacts without a birthday specified but from category ‘Family’birthday: [ ] category: Family

3. Use the Advanced Find option (applies to Outlook 2007 and previous)

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+F keys on your keyboard to open Advanced Find.
  3. Click the Advanced tab.
  4. Type in the query you need and set the condition to ‘is empty’, or ‘does not exist’.

4. Rename all existing categories

  1. Rename all the existing categories to contain either a specific word or number (the same in all categories).
  2. Under your search folders -> create a new one.
  3. Under Criteria -> select Advanced -> add the Categories field.
  4. From the drop-down menu -> select ‘Does not contain’ -> type the value set earlier in the right-side box.
  5. Click Add to list -> click OK 2 times.

5. Switch you email client

How often do you struggle to discover an essential communication quickly or fail to follow up after an event? How many newsletters do you get every day that further fill your inbox?

Email is frequently mentioned in productivity publications as a time-consuming issue. And this often appears to be the case. The issue is not emailed itself, it’s a technology that altered the game in communication and introduced millions of opportunities for fast sending and receiving information.

The absence of suitable email efficiency tools and awareness of how to manage your time. Simply said, email productivity solutions help professionals be more productive while using email.

There’s a lot of time spent reading, composing, checking, and handling email throughout the course of a normal professional’s workday.

As a result, even minor gains in productivity can regain hours of wasted time.
Web applications, software as a service, desktop programs, plugins, or browser extensions are common email productivity solutions.

In this article, we explored the best methods to deal with the issue caused by your Outlook software not being able to search for items without values.

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