Tips for the Outlook Tasks Module

Below are some tips for the Tasks Module (most are oldies (will work in most versions) but goodies):

1.      Outlook 12: See the thread of a conversation of a flagged mail in the Tasks Module: Heres the scenario: You flagged a mail message, and now you want to see the full thread to see if there has been any more mail on it. Click on the infobar in the reading pane and click Find all related messages. A dialog will pop up with the messages in the thread.

The Tasks Module: Click on the Infobar to find all related messages

2.      Change the location of the Reading Pane: Want to see more information about your tasks? Click View->Reading Pane and select the location of the Reading Pane or turn it off!

Turn the Reading Pane on or off through the View menu

3.      Tips for standard Table Views:

a.       Change the sort: Want to see your completed tasks sorted by the subject, and not the date complete? Left click on the subject column header.

b.      Add a properties to your view: What if you like Outlooks out of the box views, but you want to add a checkbox? Right click on the header and select Field Chooser. A new dialog will pop up with a list of properties. Drag and drop the properties you want into the view, such as Complete.

The Field Chooser

c.       Remove a property from the view: Dont like a property? Left click on the column header and drag it off. Presto! Column is gone. This state will persist between sessions of Outlook until you reset the view.

d.      Group your items: If you want to see all of your tasks grouped together based on due date, for example, right click on the Due Date column header and select Group by this field.

4.      Customize the view even more: Want to change the way that overdue tasks are colored, but only in a particular view (look under Automatic Formatting)? Want to add the new item row to the current view (look under Other Settings)? Right click on the header and select Customize Current View…” Or just click on Customize Current View…” in the Navigation Pane. A dialog will appear that will let you customize the view almost any way you want, just click on the buttons. Note: You can customize the To-Do Bar the same way by clicking on the words Arrange by: in the To-Do Bar, and then select Custom…”

Customize the View

5.      Reset your view: Messed up your view? Click on Customize Current View…” in the Navigation Pane.  In the dialog that appears, click Reset Current View in the lower left corner. Note: You can reset your view in the To-Do Bar through the same dialog by clicking on the words Arrange by: in the To-do Bar and then selecting Custom…”

6.      Add a new property: Dont have enough properties to represent your data? (For example, you are big fan of the Franklin Covey system and you want to add a more detailed priority field (A1, B1, A2, B2, etc.))  Right click on the header and select Field Chooser. In the dialog, click new at the bottom and create a new category that suits your needs.

7.      Create a custom view: What if the default Outlook views are fine, but what if you are a big Franklin Covey user and you want your own view with your own properties? Heres how to do it: Set up your view the way you want it, then click on View in the menu bar, and then Current View, Define Views. Click New on the right side. Decide if you want your custom view to be applicable to just the current folder, visible only to you or to everyone whom you share the folder with, or to all task folders, and then click OK. If everything is how you want it, click OK in the next dialog (the Customize View dialog) and then OK again and then you are done!

8.      Share your tasks: Want your boss to see what you are working on? Right click on the Tasks folder and select Share Tasks and send your boss a Sharing Request (in Outlook12) or enter your boss alias into the dialog that appears.

Sharing Request

9.      Outlook 12: Reminders for all flagged mail: Want reminders on everything you flag in Outlook12? Go to Tools->Options, click on the Task Options button and check the box next to Set reminders on tasks with due dates. (This box is checked in Outlook2003 and earlier, and off by default in Outlook12.)

Task Options

10.  Short cut keys of fun:

a.       Control-Shift-K creates a new task.

b.      Alt-F1 turns on/off the Navigation Pane.

c.       Alt-F2 turns on/off the To-Do Bar.

11.  Outlook 12: Get your tasks, flagged mail, and flagged contacts from other stores to show up in the To-Do Bar: Right click on the store name in the Navigation Pane and select Properties for <name of your store>…” In the dialog that appears next, check the box next to Display reminders and tasks from this folder in the To-Do Bar. Then click Apply and OK. Shutdown Outlook (restart) and open it again and you will see your tasks from other stores start to populate the To-Do Bar!

Store Properties

There are many other things that you can do in the Tasks Module this is just a start. For more tips on tasks, see, and for tips on table views (the standard views in Tasks are all table views) see

If you know some tips and tricks for tasks, please post them in your comments. Thanks!

Comments (5)

  1. Rodger says:

    All the work everyone has done on Outlook Tasks is very good but it completely misses the point of what people are asking for when they say "categories and colors".

    Please just give us the ability to nest tasks. It’s that simple. I have never really used Outlook tasks for this one reason. You cited the book "Take Back Your Life". That whole book is about working around Outlook’s inability to nest tasks. There is double entery and cutting pasting everywhere because Outlook can’t support: goal->project->task->action

    I’m begging for this feature.

  2. Mantvydas says:

    Mr. Rodger, please read what’s written below. How pity it might be, at least in the Outlook 2007, Microsoft is not planning to add nesting or so called subtasks.

    Me too am waiting for that. Hope they appear at least in Outlook 13.

  3. DBacopoulos says:

    When entering a task or calander event, it would be more efficient to have the contact name & contacts phone number also appear.   In Outlook 2003 when you open a contact and schedule a task or calendar event, just the subject appears.  Also, when the task is completed, it would be nice to give you the option for a FOLLOW-UP option and to type notes regarding the call or meeting which would be time stamped for a history for that contact. All of these features are used in ACT! 2006.

  4. Trevor H says:

    Sharing Tasks – I have set up a new tasks folder and want to share this.  I am able to give dedicated people reviewer permissions, however they cannot access the tasks.  I have set the new tasks folder in both scenarios a) directly under the main tasks folder and b) under the main mailbox folder.  Still now joy!

  5. Niccolo says:

    I suppose Microsoft figures that by not putting a nested task feature in Outlook they will push users to buy a Project program, preferably theirs.  But I do not use projects sufficiently to make it worth the price to buy such a thing, and so I instead must gnash my teeth and curse Bill Gates.

    I’d say it was poor marketing strategy, but I’m not yet moving to another program so what do I know.

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