How to sort Microsoft Outlook 2003 categories

Microsoft Outlook 2003 Categories – You cannot sort by this field (Solution)!

So I’ve been getting this error in my Contacts manager in Microsoft Outlook 2003. I can arrange or sort by any field except Categories which is annoying!

It seems to be a bug. I’ve searched for a solution but found none. So here’s the work around that I’ve discovered.

Right Click on the Categories Field. Click Arrage By. Choose ‘Categories’ however this will sort by category but it won’t sort it alphabetical. If you have a better solution please comment!

If you’re interested in running the latest version of Microsoft Office or want to know what it’s all about, check out this link

16 thoughts on “How to sort Microsoft Outlook 2003 categories

  1. Found the reason this happens and the fix for it

    Taken from

    The reason you can’t simply click on the column header to sort by category is that any one contact might belong to multiple categories and would need to appear multiple times to be properly arranged.

    Outlook does this gracefully with the “By Category” view, which is accessed from the View…Current View menu. This option groups your contact records into collapsible sections, one per category.

    Option 1.
    View->Arrange By->Current View->Define Views
    Select the view you want to change and click “Modify…”
    Select “Group By…”
    Select the check box “Automatically group according to arrangement”
    Apply your changes to the view
    Now if you click on a column header it automatically groups by the selected column.

  2. This solution works. What I find odd is that I have been sorting by categories for years and it is only in the last few months that this problem cropped up. Thanks!

  3. Had same problem. Jason and Smoother’s solutions both worked for me.

    Also… this may be causing the problem or at least did for me. After I used both solutions and was working, I was still in the ‘Current View: by Category’, I clicked on 1 or 2 of the top fields like Company and it sorted by company and showed the small sorting directional arrow on Company but now NO directional sorting arrow on Categories. Tried sorting by categories by hitting the top of the field and it would NOT sort by categories again. Had to go back to Jason’s RESET current View under View and Arrange by and… Voila… it now sorted again by Category.

    For some reason, you can’t just toggle (or click on the top of the Field) from Company, to File as, to Phone and back to Category. MS Outlook 2003, at least on my laptop, does NOT like to sort by Categoy unless you manually/forcibly go to View and Arrange by. You can go back and forth on the other fields, just not category.

    Hope that further helps or solves some other major grievances and annoyances,

  4. Absolutely great! I thought MS had wasted the opportunity to sort by categories, well they had sort of. This restores this functionality. Thank you!

  5. Jason’s suggestion worked to sort by category. Now I would like to put the selected contacts into a file in My Data Sources preparatory to using them to create labels in Mail/Merge. Could anyone tell me how to move from Outlook into My Data Sources?

    Thank you.

  6. Tried ScubaSteve’s & Jason’s. Jason’s does not fix it for me. ScubaSteve’s arrange by works, but not alphabetically.


    Use ScubaSteve’s arrange by method, then go to View>Arrange By>Custom>Sort and pick Subject for the first one. This will sort alphabetically in the arranged Categories view.

  7. Jason’s suggestion worked for me. Thanks Smoother & Jason! This has been irritating me for weeks, as I use my categories constantly.

  8. I tried Jasons’s suggestion for a solution and it did not work for me. The only thing that works is your work around idea. So, I guess I’ll live with it for now!


  9. Had the same problem, discovered a solution!

    First under the View Menu, under ‘Arrange By’, make sure you have ‘Categories’ selected (should be a check mark next to it).

    Next go to the View Menu. Select ‘Arrange By’, then ‘Custom…’. Now see that button called ‘Reset Current View’?. Hit that, problem solved. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *