Andrew Ash on SharePoint Tasks

The following is from guest blogger Andrew Ash. Enjoy!




Hi! My name is Andrew Ash and I am a Program Manager on the Outlook team. I am working on connecting five of the most popular types of SharePoint Lists to Outlook 2007: Calendars, Contact Lists, Tasks, Discussion Boards, and Document Libraries. What follows is a little bit about how SharePoint and Outlook work together for better team and project collaboration.


SharePoint and Time Management

For many of us, there is a world of information outside of Outlook that is essential for managing our time. For example, intranet sites with team vacation schedules, group project calendars, and lists of action items that all impact what we need to do and when we need to it. Does this sound familiar? Starting with the Microsoft Office 2007 release of SharePoint, you will be able to connect specific SharePoint Task Lists and Calendars to Outlook, bringing all of your intranet time management information into one place - Outlook. These lists are read/write, which means you can make changes to SharePoint Tasks and Appointments through Outlook 2007 tools like the To Do Bar and Task Well and have those changes upload to SharePoint automatically.


Putting it together

Let’s start with a real-world example. I’m organizing a fundraiser in the next two weeks and I have asked Melissa to help me. To be successful, there’s a whole slew of actions Melissa and I will have to complete. To manage this project, I created the “Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser” Task List in SharePoint, pictured below. I assigned one task to Melissa (she needs some serious help bowling) and assigned one task to myself. Since Melissa and I will be working on this together, we can use this list as a single place to track our tasks and to monitor each other’s progress.


By clicking on the “Actions” menu, and then “Connect to Outlook”, as shown below, I can ask Outlook to connect to & download this Task List.



In Outlook, I will see the task “Send e-mail to recruit…” show up in my To-Do Bar because it is assigned to me. Outlook filters out tasks assigned to others in order to prevent the To-Do bar from becoming cluttered with work that isn’t for you.



Hovering my mouse over a task shows more information:


The To-Do Bar shows all of my tasks, not just my SharePoint tasks. To see just the tasks in this project, I can click on “Tasks” in the Navigation Pane and go to the “Team Site – Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser” folder and see the same view as I do on the SharePoint site because the entire list is synchronized into Outlook. As changes are made to the list, my synchronized list will update, so I can watch as Melissa makes progress on her bowling tasks and I can add new tasks and assign them to her (more on that below) – all without leaving Outlook.



Updating and re-assigning tasks is easy. If I find a task that needs to go to Melissa, I can double-click on it to open a familiar Task Inspector window. Here are a few key differences:

·      SharePoint Tasks include an Assigned To field.  Just like a task request, a SharePoint task has an Assigned To field. Unlike a task request, the owner of the task is posted to the SharePoint site, so everyone knows who is doing what.

·      The body of a SharePoint Task is a shared, unstructured, space. One big difference between SharePoint Tasks and Task Requests is that SharePoint Tasks can be re-assigned by anyone, rather than just the person who requested the task. As the task travels between different people they can add comments to the body in whatever style they like. In the screenshot below, Melissa’s updated the task to let me know she’s waiting on a delivery, By the time the task is completed the body will have become this rich record of the decision making process. That record will also be more accessible to my peers because it’s stored on SharePoint rather than just in my one person’s mailbox.

·      SharePoint Tasks come with context. At the bottom of a task you can see who last owned the task (“Last modified by:”), when it was changed, and a link back to the SharePoint site.


For example, I can assign the task “Watch “Essential Keys to Better Bowling” to Melissa by filling in the Assigned To: field and I can add a note in the notes field of the task, as shown above.  As soon as I click “Save & Close” the task will disappear from my To-Do bar, but I will still be able to see it (and keep track of it) in my “Team Site – Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser” folder in the Tasks Module. Checking it later on I can see Melissa updated the task on March 14th.


Hope you enjoy using SharePoint 2007 and Outlook 2007 together for your next project. I’m looking forward to reading your comments.


Be well,


Andrew Ash

* For more information on SharePoint and its role in Collaboration see Kurt DelBene’s SharePoint blog.

Comments (72)
  1. How does this work when Outlook is offline?

  2. Andrew Ash ist Program Manager im Outlook Team und zeigt in seinem Weblogbeitrag wie Aufgaben…

  3. MSDN Archive says:

    Good question Patrick. Any SharePoint Task you’ve got connected to Outlook is automatically available offline and remains editable just as though you were online. The offline experience has a similiar look & feel to the Cached Exchange feature you might already be familiar with. Even better, Outlook stores a copy of these tasks in a special SharePoint PST – so they don’t add to your Exchange mail quota, important for large discussion boards. Any changes you make on the airplane, or at a client site, will get synchronized the next time you view the Task List in Outlook, save a change to that list, or every 30 minutes by default. Some people also like to know they can customize how often Outlook updates your offline SharePoint Lists by using Send/Receive Groups in the Tools menu.

    — Andrew

  4. MikeW2 says:

    The link to Kurt DelBene’s SharePoint blog seems to only work from within Microsoft.

    I’m not within Microsoft !!

  5. Melissa MacBeth says:

    Sorry about that! The blog link is:


  6. David Greenwood says:

    Andrew, Can you say something about how SharePoint Meeting Workspaces have changed in terms of the interaction with Outlook?

  7. Download SharePoint Beta2:

    Important Documentation Prior to SharePoint Beta 2 Installation


  8. Mark says:

    What are the Office integration limitations of having Office 2003 on the client and MOSS 2007 as the server?



  9. Andrew Ash says:

    Hey Mark, thanks for your question about Office SharePoint Server 2007. Outlook 2003 can link to SharePoint Calendars and Contact Lists on your new MOSS 2007 server and download read-only copies of that content. Outlook integrates with MOSS servers in exactly the same way as any SharePoint server, so there’s no additional limitations over the read-only nature of Outlook 2003’s sync’ing feature. Upgrade to Outlook 2007 to get the full 2-way sync experience against MOSS.

    Be well,

    Andrew Ash

    Microsoft Outlook

  10. Mark Evans says:


    Outlook 2007 offers a facility to take document libraries (et cetera) off line, but when I try to do it the facility is only offered "read only." Is this the standard, or does two-way sync happen for files in (for example) a document library within Outlook.



  11. Henrik Møller Jørgensen says:

    Interesting question and answer from/to mark,

    Andrew, you mention Outlook 2003 sync’ing calendar and contacts one way. What about tasks? Will they be sync’ed, and is there a two way sync on outlook 2007?

    Kind regards

    Henrik Jørgensen

  12. Henrik Møller Jørgensen says:

    I reread the above – it’s obvious that there’s two way sync with outlook 2007. Still I’d like to know about tasks and outlook 11/2003

  13. Henrik Jørgensen says:

    Installed WSS and got most of it working. Only issue is that there is no ‘Connect to outlook’ action in tasks. It’s there and working fine from the calendar to Outlook 2003, but not in Tasks.

    This is thrilling technology, can’t wait to get my hands on Outlook 2007

    Kind regards


  14. cregan says:


    Are there any out-of-the box web parts that will allow a user to see all tasks assigned to them within a particular MOSS site, such as their personal MySite?



  15. Ben Stokes says:

    Hi, the "connect to Outlook" option is missing in my installation of Sharepoint 2007 (beta 2). What do I need to do to enable it?

  16. Ben Rickles says:

    Will task lists support reoccurring tasks?



  17. Gerard D'Souza says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a situation at hand. I am working with Outlook 2003 and Sharepoint 2007. Have a Forms Authenticated Sharepoint application. When I try Synchronizing my Outlook 2003 with it I get an error message ‘You do not have permission to view this Windows SharePoint Services folder.’ . The Synchro works fine with a windows authenticated application. Is there any configuration setting to be changed to solve this ?


  18. mmacbeth says:


    From Andrew Ash:

    You can synchronize Forms Authenticated SharePoint Lists with Outlook 2007 by clicking the "Remember Me" check box when you authenticate in your web browser. This saves a "cookie" on the computer indicating that you’re authenticated and allows Outlook to communicate with the server successfully. Forms Authentication is not specifically supported with Outlook 2003, but this same process may address your problem.


  19. mmacbeth says:


    Unfortunately, SharePoint task lists do not support recurring tasks.


  20. John says:

    I setup the connect to Outlook as above, and I got all the tasks from the Metting workspace, even the ones not assigned to me.  They are even in my to do list in outlook 2007.

    Also is there any way for the Outlook tasks created from sharepoint to be seen with Outlook XP ?



  21. Gerard D'Souza says:

    Hi Ben,

    When you creating a web Application in Sharepoint 2007, you have to select the ‘Clint Integration’ option. Only then will you get the "connect to Outlook" option. also some other options like uploading multiple documents are seen only when this is enabled

  22. Gerard D'Souza says:

    Hi Ben,

    When you creating a web Application in Sharepoint 2007, you have to select the ‘Client Integration’ option. Only then will you get the "connect to Outlook" option. also some other options like uploading multiple documents are seen only when this is enabled

  23. Gerard D'Souza says:

    I have run into another problem in forms authentication when I installed sharepoint 2007 (beta 2) on another box for a single machine(not farm)…..

    I have done all the configuration settings as i did earlier but now when i want to add an administrator for a new site collection i get the following error …………

    Exception stack trace:    at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.Gatherer.get_AdminObject()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.Gatherer.ProvisionGlobalProperties()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.Gatherer.Provision()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchServiceInstance.Synchronize(Boolean installGathererApplication)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchJobDefinition.Execute(Guid targetInstanceId)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPTimerJobInvoke.Invoke(TimerJobExecuteData& data, Int32& result)

    anybody knows why ?

  24. Gerard D'Souza says:

    The above error occurs when i try adding primary and secondary administrators for the site collection



  25. Stuart Marshall says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Regarding the following comment (from your post):

    "Outlook filters out tasks assigned to others in order to prevent the To-Do bar from becoming cluttered with work that isn’t for you."

    This doesn’t appear to be the case for me with B2TR – Outlook shows the tasks for all users. On Beta2 this behaved correctly as you state it should – however, with B2TR the behaviour seems to have changed.

    This isn’t too much of a problem for the To-Do list or To-Do bar as you can set up filters to only display the users tasks.

    However, the problem is with the Daily Task List on the Calendar, as there doesn’t seem to be any way to filter this for the current user. Do you (or does anyone else) know if it’s possible to filter this?

    Also, is this behaviour (of showing all users’ tasks in the Daily Task List) intended? Or is it a bug in B2TR? Does anyone know how it behaves in RTM?

    Thanks for any help.


  26. Bryan Choi says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am currently looking at discussion board features of Sharepoint 2007.  One of the settings of the discussion board is to set the incoming email address so email can be directly posted to discussion board.  I was wondering if it is possible to send an email from Outlook 2003 that will post to Sharepoint 2007 discussion board?


  27. mmacbeth says:


    As it is just an e-mail address for the discussion board, you can send e-mail to it from any client.


  28. Tony Woodruff says:

    I guess I am scratching my head a bit – Why would the product team choose to connect SharePoint to Outlook 2007 using a PST file?

    In our organization we have group policy set to disallow creation of new PST files because we feel they are not an enterprise solution in myriad ways – we cannot back them up on C drive, they are not supported on network drive, past corruption problems, inability to get to items via OWA, etc.

    Is there a back door way to connect a SharePoint calendar to Outlook that we are missing?

  29. Tony Woodruff says:

    I guess I am scratching my head a bit – Why would the product team choose to connect SharePoint to Outlook 2007 using a PST file?

    In our organization we have group policy set to disallow creation of new PST files because we feel they are not an enterprise solution in myriad ways – we cannot back them up on C drive, they are not supported on network drive, past corruption problems, inability to get to items via OWA, etc.

    Is there a back door way to connect a SharePoint calendar to Outlook that we are missing?

  30. Steve Haiman says:

    I am unable to find the Client Integration Feature in central admin or in site collection administration.  I need to be able to access the connect to outlook feature between Outlook 2003 and MOSS 2007.  Where can I find this setting/feature.  Thanks!

  31. John Lancaster says:

    I can’t find the Client Integration Feature in central admin or in site collection administration either. Is this only available on the enterprise version?

  32. jpalo says:

    Client Integration is here: Central Administration > Application Management > Authentication Providers

    Click on the desired zone and you’ll find the option at the bottom of the page.

  33. Milton Lopez says:

    I have verified that Client Integration is enabled, yet none of my WSS 3 lists show the "Connect to Outlook" option in their Actions menus.

    Any other ideas? Thanks in advance.

  34. Vince says:

    How about adding an integration between TFS work items to the one between Outlook and Sharepoint tasks? It would be really nice if those three could be synchronized!

  35. Devendra Yadav says:

    "Connect to outlook" is missing in my installation, the strange thing is this option is available if i open my sharepoint site with firefox, and it’s missing when i open it in IE7, can anyone help.



  36. RHall says:

    We were having the same problem even when all recommended settings were active.  I finally discovered that in order to "Connect to Outlook", the list must have been created from the "Tasks" template.  I had created a new task list from the "Issue Tracking" template and it did not offer the Outlook option.

  37. Devendra Yadav says:

    RHall, can you pls explain your discovery i m anot able to get you i mean creating list from task template?



  38. SP says:

    Our organization also disables PST file creation by users. One consultant told us that about half of the organizations that he works with disbles them. Are there any other methods of connecting Sharepoint Calendars and Outlook?

  39. Bob says:


    If I assign a Task to multiple people (in Sharepoint)… is it possible for me (as the owner) to look at each person’s progress? If so, can I see the progress in one clean view?

  40. jacole says:

    I’ve been working with the interface between Sharepoint and outlook 2007 with tasks, and am trying to customize the priority and status definitions on the Sharepoint task list in a way that will integrate back through Outlook. I can modify the priority settings in Sharepoint, and those sort of get back to Outlook, but not cleanly. Outlook will pick up some of the custom priorities types, but only if the priority is set directly in Sharepoint. Otherwise, Outlook can only set Custom priorites to High, Normal and Low. Is there any way to use Outlook to manage my own custom priority and status codes on the Sharepoint lists?

  41. Corina says:

    I have verified that Client Integration is enabled, yet none of my WSS 3 lists show the "Connect to Outlook" option in their Actions menus.

  42. Greg Baxter says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I have my regional settings set for Australia, and dates within MOSS seem to have "our" format – with the exception of Tasks.

    Is there anyway to change the date format within tasks to not show a US format?


  43. Ben Ross says:


    I have Sharpoint integrating contacts with Outlook 2003.  I would like the contacts to be available through OWA, is this easily possible?


  44. Manoj Iyer says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a situation at hand.

    I am working with Infopath 2007,Outlook 2007 and Sharepoint 2007.

    I want to send Infopath From as Attachment to User from Workflow.

    When user fills up the Infopath Form from Client Outlook, those

    changes should be reflected to the InfopathForm and workflow should

    be pushed from client Outlook 2007.

    Is there any way to solve this ?

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    -Manoj Iyer

  45. Ravi says:

    hi Andrew

    I am trying to Edit my created Task but i got error Page ,"Failed to set value of the "Assigned To" column on the "Person or Group" field type control.  See details in log. Exception message: Value does not fall within the expected range.. "

    PlzSuggest Me


  46. thorhildur says:


    about the option "Connect to Outlook" missing in IE only, not Firefox:

    I had the same problem, but the reason was a disabled ActiveX Control.

    Check if you have disabled some controls, I did because of problems using Oracle Applications in IE.

  47. Jarek K. says:

    Devendra Yadav: When you create list, you must use "Tasks" Item in "Tracking" column.

    Does any one know how, if it’s possible, add/ remove columns?

    I’m trying to create task list but "custom list" doesn’t provide "connect to outlook" option. if i change fields in list created from tasks template i can’t add/ remove any fields (acctualy i can, but they’re not syncronized).

  48. GOPI says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am trying to syncronize the Tasks between sharepoint2007 and outlook 2003..I added some Tasks in sharepoint2007 site and when I clicked on the Action to Synchronize these Tasks to Outlook2003 Tasks….I am unable to see the option "Conncet To Outlook" as you shown in the above pic(very top of this page)..where as I am succeded in Synchronizing of Calender and Contacts I am able to see the option

    "Conncet To Outlook" in those two cases..but not in the case of Tasks!!Is there anything wrong with configuration of sharepoint or Windows Shared services!! Note:I tried with Project Tasks too

  49. carlo ceccarelli says:

    i have around 50 users sending emails back and forth, these emails contain documents, pictures and drawings, i want to know, if connecting their outlooks to share point, would facilitate the posting of those documents on the portal, as if sharepoint would recognize the attachments that the users are sending with respective metadata, and allocating them on the portal

    i am very new to the program, i am struggling to get the hang of it,



  50. says:

    Andrew, your blog on SharePoint Tasks was great.  I am trying to get my Outlook Contacts with ALL fields into a SharePoint Contact List. If I import via Access I lose the "Connect to Outlook" Action and if I just drag the contact to the Sharepoint folder I lose the majority of fields and their information.  I’m not a programmer but I can’t believe others are not trying to do this.

  51. Steve says:

    I created a calendar view of a Form Library List (I have InfoPath forms there) for "Change Management".  I have a calendar view to show implementation dates.  I don’t have a "Connect to Outlook" option here.

    I do have Connect to Outlook in calendar views of regular lists.  How can I connect this library to Outlook??



  52. Sarah says:

    I have an issue with all-day events added to a Sharepoint 2007 calendar and then viewing them in an Outlook 2003 client.

    From Sharepoint the all-day event is scheduled from 00.00 to 23.59 however in Outlook 2003 it is displayed as 01.00 to 12.59. This means that when users view the calendar in Outlook 2003 it is confusing as there is an overlap into the following day. This displays fine in Outlook 2007 though.

    Any ideas?


  53. Hossam says:

    how can i connect public folder in outlook 2003 in MOSS 2007 ?

    can i move public folder to MOSS 2007 ??

    if i had a public calender in the public folder, can i view it in MOSS 2007 ??

  54. James says:

    Is it possible to create new columns in tasks or contacts and have the informaiton in the new column syncronize with outlook?  As a user defined field or something?

    Anyone have an idea on that?



  55. Gregkoe says:

    I second the motion for syncing user-defined fields in Tasks.  The biggest need is for a custom priority field that handles real priorities, ideally in Franklin format: A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, C1, C2, C3, etc, rather than the crude, nearly useless Normal, High, Low default priorities.

  56. 2007 MOSS Resource Links (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) Here is an assortment of various 2007 Microsoft

  57. Andrew, you look like someone who could help. We are just deploying an employee review form in sharepoint with some custom sharepoint code for security and want to use some more standard workflows (tasks) for approval and employee review.

    All seems to work great .. except.. the task sent to the employee which needs the employee to review the infopath form on themselves contains the correct task link BUT the link to the form itself is missing a "/" between the  XMLLocation= and FormServerTempates (as shown below). If I add the /, the Form URL resolves but obviously this is not deployable as is. My Developer says its not him and may be a SharePoint issue. I cannot see how but maybe its a hotfix I need ?


  58. mmacbeth says:

    From the InfoPath Product Team:

      See: for the hotfix you need.


  59. lfrumusa says:

    michelebkraus   — did you ever get an answer to your question regarding transfering field from outlook to sharepoint


  60. Mark says:

    Has anyone been able to fix teh issue Sarah decribes above? (how all day events in MOSS do not display correctly in Outlook)

    I have Outlook 2003 and all day events from SharePoint show up as 7PM to 6:59Pm the next day. So in outlook it appears as a 2 day event.

    Thanks in advanc

  61. Jason Szabo says:

    I know this is far from the right version of sharepoint we are talking about but.  I have Sharepoint 2.0 services and I would like to link the tasks list to outlook 2003 is this possable?

  62. Ulrich Bernskov says:

    Mark and Sarah:

    Consider the following scenario. The Calendar list in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 contains an all-day event. When you view the all-day event in the Calendar list that you added to Outlook 2003, the item is not listed as an all-day event. Instead, for example, the item shows a start time of 4:00 P.M. and an end time of 3:59 P.M. on the following day.

    Note The start time and the end time of the item may vary. However, its duration is one minute less than 24 hours.


    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 includes enhanced integration with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. You can use Outlook 2007 to fully interact with information that is stored in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. For example, you can access collaborative areas that enable you to connect to and work with calendar lists, contact lists, task lists, documents, and discussions.

  63. Hazar says:


    I work on a network that uses tasks in outlook on a daily basis. But we categorize tasks’ priority as follows:

    1. Urgent and important

    2. Urgent

    3. Important

    4. Not urgent and not important

    I want to know please how can I replace outlook values "Low, High and Normal" for priority with these values.

    I would also like to know how to change the way "Outlook Today" displays those tasks, so that it displays "Urgent and important" at the top, next  "urgent" and so on…


  64. Kirk says:

    I’m also curious about two items already commented in here.

    1. If you create custom columns in Sharepoint tasks, can those be filled in Outlook?

    2. Can a view be created in MOSS that shows tasks across project lists (I know that’s not your area, Andrew, but still thought I’d ask).

  65. akash_waits says:

    If we will delete one or more of the tasks being shown in the to do bar of the outlook will that be reflected in the to do bar(deleted ones will be deleted from to do bar also)???

  66. tony says:

    We want to create tasks in SharePoint via Outlook and visa versa, and it sounds like this is possible with Outlook 2003 and MOSS 2007.  Is that correct?  Are there specific configuration or client settings that allow this?  Are there known limitations in creating or managing tasks with Outlook 2003?

  67. This works nice, but the problem is, on the Outlook side, they’re not real tasks.  It’s a different data-store.  That really sucks because one of the huge advantages of storing in the task datastore on the Exchange Server is that then we can get to those tasks from anywhere.  Whether it’s Outlook Web Access, or Outlook Mobile Access, or Blackberry, or Plaxo.

    In fact, one of the main reasons I use Outlook tasks, is because Smartphones can synchronize them over the air.  So if I create a task on my mobile phone, it ends up in Exchange, and thus Outlook.  If I create it in Outlook, I see it in my phone within in minutes.

    It looks like what you guys did was create a different view to Sharepoint tasks from within Outlook rather than truly synchronizing with Outlook tasks’ data store.

    Thanks for your time.

  68. Andrea says:

    I would to syncronize outlook 2007 with sharepoint tasks, everything works well, but, if i change the task status to "Completed", the outlook error during syncronization is:

    Failed to copy the task ‘etc etc’ because SharePoint does not recognize ” as a valid Status.

    Does anyone knows this kind of error ?

    Thank you very much.


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