Using Category Rules to automatically categorize transactions

A Category Rule automatically categorizes newly imported transactions for you! Category rules are checked against your transactions (after your Filters) and will re-categorize any transactions that have been automatically categorized from the bank feed πŸŽ‰

In this user guide

How category rules work

Category Rules let PocketSmith do the heavy lifting πŸ’ͺ🏽 for you when it comes to getting your transactions categorized. With Category Rules, you're able to set up your PocketSmith account to automatically categorize transactions just the way you like. This means less time spent manually categorizing your transactions - yay!

Category Rules work by matching a transaction's merchant name to the merchant keywords belonging to a Category Rule. If a transaction's merchant name has text in it that match the Category Rules'  merchant keywords, then that transaction will be assigned to the appropriate category.


Bridie shops at Betty's Liquor store for wine. She wants all her Betty's Liquor transactions to be automatically assigned to her 🍻 Drinks category. The trouble is, each time a new transaction comes in from Betty's Liquor, it often comes in with different details in the merchant name, such as, a different time, date, or card information etc. 

When Bridie sets a Category Rule for Betty's Liquor, she needs to pick out the best merchant keywords from the transaction in order for the Category Rule to be successful each time a new transaction comes in. In this case, the common merchant keyword for Bridie's transactions at Betty's Liquor is 'Bettys'.

Creating category rules and editing merchant keywords

There are a few different places around PocketSmith where a Category Rule can be created for a transaction and where you can add a transaction's specific merchant keywords to a category rule. 

We recommend applying your category rules from the Categorize transactions page or when editing a transaction because you can simultaneously edit the merchant keywords for that transaction.

Based on the example above with Bridie's Betty's Liquor purchase, Bridie can adjust the merchant keywords so that it just contained 'Bettys'.

Creating a category rule and editing merchant keywords from the Categorize transactions page

When categorizing transactions from the Categorize transactions page, you can add merchant keywords to a Category Rule so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized.

Head to  Categorize Transactions ( Manage > Categorize Transactions)
Assign a category to the transaction
Tick the checkbox for Make this a Category Rule
Edit the merchant keyword so that it will match future transactions
Click  Save & continue

Creating a category rule and editing merchant keywords when editing a transaction

When editing a transaction from the Transactions page, you can add merchant keywords to a category rule so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized.

Navigate to the transaction you would like to categorize on the Transactions page 
Click on the transaction and select a category from the category dropdown
Tick the checkbox to  Make this a Category Rule
Edit the merchant keyword so that it will match future transactions, then click Save

Adding to a Category Rule from the Transactions page

When categorizing transactions from the Transactions page, you can create a category rule for transactions so that similar future transactions are automatically categorized too. However, you'll need to head to your Settings to edit the category rule's merchant keywords.

Head to the Transactions page 
Select all the transactions you want to categorize to the same category
Click on the Category menu item in the toolbar 
Click the checkbox beside  Make this a Category Rule
Select a Category from the dropdown menu to categorize the transactions and create separate category rules for each set of merchant keywords
The category will be applied to the selected transactions, and the rules will apply to any future transactions that match the merchant names in your selection

Following this, it's really important to edit your merchant keywords for the newly created category rule, as the merchant keywords may need to be refined to broaden the category rule's application.

Learn how to do this here: Editing merchant keywords

Editing a category rule

To improve the Category Rules performance so that they automatically categorize more transactions, you will want to edit the merchant keywords or the order of your Category Rules. 

The following user guide explains how to edit your Category Rules:  Editing category rules

Applying a category rule to past transactions

When you create a new category rule, it won’t run the rule against any existing categorized transactions - only against uncategorized transactions and new transactions that are imported to PocketSmith in the future. 

However, you can force a category rule to run against your existing transactions!

Head to Category rules, saved searches and filters ( Manage > Category Rules, Saved Searches and Filters)
Ensure Category rules is selected in the left menu
Navigate to the category rule you're looking for, click the three-dot menu, and select Edit
At the bottom of the list of merchant keywords, you'll see a section  Apply category rule to all matching transactions. This section will only show if there are transactions that match your category rule but are assigned to a different category, or, are currently uncategorized.

Tick the checkbox  Manually apply this category rule to all transactions containing the above merchant keywords > Apply category rule > OK



Selecting this option will apply the category rule to all transactions with matching merchants, even if they have been previously categorized to another category. Consider whether this is the right option for you!

The difference between Category Rules and Filters

Category Rules work by automatically categorizing your transactions purely based on the merchant (or keywords within the merchant), of a transaction. Filters, on the other hand, can categorize your transactions based on multiple criteria, such as Merchant keyword + amount + specific account

Filters can also apply changes to transactions other than just assigning a category.

Filters can:

  • Add a label
  • Change the merchant name
  • Delete a transaction
  • Mark a transaction with the transfer icon
  • Assign a category

For more detail on using Filters please see  Everything you need to know about filters.

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