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 Central management of Outlook categories and colors without installing client software.
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    Categories in Outlook, a very useful feature when everyone uses the same names and colors

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    The default category list in Outlook

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    Central list /color definition in the Exchange Category Manager software

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    The resulting category list in Outlook, identical for all team members

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  1. Create a new user account (CatManAdmin) in the active directory (or on o365) and give it a mailbox. This is the service account that we will refer to as “the CatManAdmin” or “the CatManAdmin account”. If not on O365, give it a local domain smtp email reply address. (not your internet domain name)
    (create a new account, do not copy an existing one. Membership of the group Domain Users is all it needs.)

  2. Download the file and extract it to a folder on any 64 bit computer or server that will not be shut down while Exchange server is being used. You can copy it to the Exchange server itself but that is not a requirement.

  3. Run the following command in the Exchange Shell only when you are on on-prem exchange. This is not required for o365.

    New-ManagementRoleAssignment -Name:ECMimpersonation -Role:ApplicationImpersonation -User:CatManAdmin
  4. This step is only applicable to users on office 365. When using on-prem Exchange server skip to step 5

    add this to the bottom of the config.ini file


ExchangeCategoryManager must be added to your Azure AD like this:

Step 4.1: open a powershell console as administrator (elevated)

Step 4.2: make sure it uses tls 1.2 by running this command: [Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [Net.SecurityProtocolType]::Tls12

Step 4.3: run this command: Install-Module -Name AzureAD and answer A (yes to all). This may take a while, be patient.

Step 4.4: When you are back at the prompt run the commands below but make sure to change the section "yourID" into the tenant id of your Azure AD. (leave the quotes, only replace the word yourID). You can find your tenant ID in Azure Active Directory admin center - Overview

Connect-AzureAD -TenantID "yourID"

new-AzureADServicePrincipal -AppID "238830b1-4b78-4feb-a84f-acd1ffea3b53" -DisplayName "ExchangeCategoryManager" -Tags {WindowsAzureActiveDirectoryIntegratedApp}

Step 4.5: Open your azure active directory admin center in the browser and find the exchangecategorymanager application under Enterprise applications. Select it and under permissions click "grant admin consent"

Now open catadmin.exe on your server and enter your tenantID. (you already looked that up in the previous steps) Click the button to verify credentials and look at the text box at the bottom for it's progress. (if you get error 401 and you already retyped the password so you are sure it is correct, try it without the " " part of the email address. So just the name.)

5. Start CatAdmin.exe from the unzipped folder. Enter the license key and email address at the bottom of the console and enter the CatManAdmin email address and password in the top left fields. Click the "Test Credentials" button. At the bottom of the screen you will see how it tries to connect to the Exchange server Autodiscovery service. When you don't get an error here read on at #6 otherwise here are some tips.

- In exchange server admin center, open the mailbox of your CatManAdmin service account. Click the "Account" tab and check the domain value in the drop down list. Click the "Email Addresses" tab and make sure that the Email address part behind the '@' matches that value. When you adjust the email address make sure to adjust it in the credentials field of the CatAdmin.exe too.

If you can not get it to work with autodiscovery then you can override autodiscovery by adding the following to the bottom of the config.ini file. (close gcadmin.exe first)


  • * the part "server.domain" has to be adjusted to match your server name and your domain name. For example

if you have the software installed on the same server as where exchange is installed, this old Microsoft bug might cause an issue as well
apply option 2, to disable loopbackcheck. The document says you need to reboot but that’s not required.

6. Enter the email address of a user in the field behind the green plus sign and press Enter on your keyboard or click the "Add User email". Notice the "Group Number" indicator on the left hand side. You can add the next user to the same group or change the group number to add the next user to another group number.

Once you configured some groups of users, select a group and enter the list of categories and colors for that group. When you check the box under the list it will delete all categories that the user already has.

Adjust the slider so it processes more often (to the left) or less often (to the right). The uttermost left position is a interval of a minute, the uttermost right position is once a day. A full progress bar indicates processing start. It will however only start processing after installation of the processing component of the software. Read on to configure that.

In the installation folder is a file called "RunECMasService.ini", open it and adjust two lines in it to match the exact location of the software.

If you have it installed in "c:\FolderName" those two lines should look like this:

CommandLine = c:\FolderName\ExchangeCategoryManager_EWS.exe
WorkingDir = c:\FolderName

Close/save the ini fille

Run InstallService.bat to install the processing service. You will see a log file appear. It creates up to 10 log files of 1 mb, overwriting the oldest.
Check the log file for errors. Hit the Chat button on the website when you see a error that you don't understand or can't fix

Frequent issue:

It may take a while before the categories appear in outlook after you started the service. In the catman console is a slider and under it a yellow bar. When the yellow bar is full, the processing starts. Set the ruler to the left to make it start quicker or to the right to make it process later.