CodeTwo CatMan allows you to share Microsoft Outlook categories with other users and manage them in an easy way. By installing CodeTwo CatMan and using one shared configuration file, you can very easily create a mechanism for centralized management of shared Outlook categories both in the local network and Internet (Fig.1).
If you are looking for software to share data between Outlook clients on the local network, read about CodeTwo Public Folders.
The program introduces the term of public and private categories. Public categories are common to all users on the network and are defined in an external configuration file. This file can be located in the local network, or on an FTP or WWW server. This means that also those employees who are on the move will be able to share public categories (Fig.2).
Private categories are the categories added in Outlook locally by a user and they are only visible for that user (Fig.3). On the list of categories a user can see both his own private categories and the public categories. All the time the Outlook client is open, the program monitors the public categories file. When one of the public categories is added, deleted or modified, the list of Outlook categories is updated accordingly.
The program features a category editor in which the user can conveniently edit private and public categories (Fig.3). By setting write access rights to the file containing public categories located in the local network, the administrator can define which users can modify the categories.
The administrator can also place the public category file on a WWW server. In this scenario only the administrator will be able to edit the public categories, while other users will have no such right. The access to the public categories can also be limited by hosting the file on an FTP server requiring authentication.
How it works
Once the program is installed, start Microsoft Outlook. A wizard will show a window where you type the path to the configuration file, containing the list of public categories (Fig.1, Fig.2). If the file does not exist, it will be created once you click the Browse button and provide a name for the new file.
After clicking the Next button, the editor window will open (Fig.3) which you can use to edit the public categories shared with all users on the network, as well as private categories which are only visible on the current machine. You can also drag and drop categories between the public and the private category windows. If the public category file is located on a WWW server (access via HTTP protocol), the editing of public categories is disabled.
You can quickly open the Category editor by clicking the CodeTwo CatMan button, located on the main Outlook toolbar (Fig.4).
By setting appropriate write permissions to writing to the public category file located in the local network, you can choose users on the local network who will be able to modify the list of public categories. If a user has no permission to modify the public categories, s/he will be notified by the program (Fig.5).
The program automatically synchronizes all public categories defined in the configuration file with the list of categories in your Outlook client. If a category is removed from the file, it will also be removed from the Outlook list of categories. This way you can work both with public and private categories in Outlook (Fig.6).
You can change the settings of the program if you click the CodeTwo CatMan button, located on the main Outlook toolbar and then click the Settings button at the bottom of the dialog box. The program lets you decide how often (in seconds) Outlook categories will be synced with public categories. By default, the synchronization cycle is set to 30 seconds for public categories located in the local network, and 120 seconds for public categories located on a WWW or FTP server (Fig.1).
How are Outlook public categories stored
Public categories that are shared by multiple users of MS Outlook are stored in a single text file (.txt). This file can be placed on a drive in the local network, or on an internet server such as WWW or FTP. Each category in the file is described by its name and color ID; these values are separated by a semi colon (Fig.7).
Category name;color ID
Each category is entered in a new line.
For MS Outlook 2003 and earlier versions the color ID always equals 0 as these versions do not support color categories.
How to configure the communication with WWW/FTP server on a different port than the default (80/21)?
The communication with WWW and FTP servers in CodeTwo CatMan is done via the following default ports:
- Port 80 for WWW servers
- Port 21 for FTP servers
Therefore, by providing the following address in CatMan settings:
ftp://my_server.com/public_categories.txt will force a connection with the server:my_server.com on port 21.
To use an alternate port to communicate with the server, modify URL address according to the pattern below:
where 'port' is a port number (e.g. 80, 81, 21).
For Windows 7 users
After installing CodeTwo CatMan and opening Outlook for the first time, the system will ask if you allow Outlook to make changes on the computer. For CatMan to function correctly, you need to allow these changes. If you deny access, the sharing of public categories via FTP server will not be possible as Windows firewall will prevent connections from the server.
For users of Microsoft Outlook 2003 and earlier versions
If you've never edited the default list of Outlook categories, please do this now. Otherwise the current default categories will be removed. Open the list of categories and add any category to the list. Once the list is saved, you can delete that category.