How to show tasks from some folders and not others in the To-Do Bar – a how-to guide

Recently, I received the following e-mail and I thought I would post my response:

Hi Melissa,


Since you’re so active on bloggin on Outlook I was wondering if you can help me solve this question. I have about 35 task folders in Outlook and by default this great new feature To-Do Bar scans all of them and puts about 300 elements in the bar. All I want To-Do Bar to scan is the original Task folder and maybe one other. Is it possible (or will it be possible) to tell this view (cause that’s what it actually is right?) which Task folders to scan? …


With kind regards,

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to turn off a folder or set of folders in the To-Do Bar (though it is something we thought about. From SQM data, most users do not have more than one folder.) There are a few tricks that you can do, however, to hide these tasks in the To-Do Bar. For example, you could create a new category: “Not In To-Do Bar.” Here are the steps:

1.     In the To-Do Bar, Arrange by: Folder (Click on the Arrange by: Due Date header in the middle of the To-Do Bar, and select “Folder”)


2.     Right click the header of a folder that you want to exclude, and select Categorize-> “All Categories…”


3.     In the “All Categories…” dialog, create a new category “Not In To-Do Bar”

4.     Continue applying the “Not In TDB” category to all of the folder headers that you don’t want to appear in the To-Do Bar. (Note: you are just applying the categories to items in these folders – the folders themselves do not have categories on them. New tasks created/added to these folders will need to have the category added to them.)


5.     Once you have finished, remove the “Not In TDB” category from your To-Do Bar View ()

a.     click on the header in the To-Do Bar, and select “Custom…”

b.     In the Customize View dialog, click on “Filter…” button.

c.     Click on the Advanced tab.

d.     Under “Fields” select “All Task Fields” and then “Categories”

e.     Click on the “Condition” drop down, and select “doesn’t contain”

f.      In the value field, add “Not In To-Do Bar” and then click “Add to List” (Ok, Ok)


      And unwanted tasks are hidden from your To-Do Bar!


If you want to view your tasks in the To-Do Bar by category, start date, due date, just click on “Arrange by:” and select the appropriate arrangement: your filter will persist. If you want this same filtered view in the Tasks module, you will need to repeat step 5. The Daily Task List in the Calendar cannot have its view filtered by category, so in this case, you may want to minimize it – unless, of course, you want to see tasks with due dates and start dates from other folders in the Daily Task List.



Comments (5)

  1. Brandon Bloom says:

    I can do one better!

    Write a VBA macro to go to each folder of tasks that should have "Not In To-Do Bar" and automatically add the category!

    Here is a little bit of helper code to get you started:

       Dim ns As Outlook.NameSpace

       Dim taskFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder

       Dim task As Outlook.TaskItem

       Set ns = Me.GetNamespace("MAPI")

       Set taskFolder = myNameSpace.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderTasks)

       For i = 1 To myTasks.Items.Count

           Set task = myTasks.Items(i)

           Debug.Print task.Categories ‘ Here you would do an `if not instr` for the category and add `", " & categoryName`


  2. Try:

    Right click the To-Do Bar, Arrange by

    Custom … | Filer | Advanced

    – Field = All Task Fields > In Folder

    – Condition = Is (exactly)

    – Value = [Your original Task folder name]

  3. queenli says:

    Assignment Alert will make sure you never miss a deadline. Assignment Alert can be set to alert you of impending assignments when Windows starts and highlight the most pressing tasks when starting Assignment Organizer.

    You can hide or show completed assignments, allowing you to keep old assignments for possible future reference without them cluttering up the list of pressing ones. Furthermore you can print a variety of reports for easy reference so you won’t have an excuse for forgetting a deadline even away from the desk.

  4. Johan Natt och Dag says:

    I just want to share an idea that I looked for a solution to: To display tasks in the to-do-bar from other task folders than the default ‘personal folders’ folder. It took me a while because it is not apparent:

    Right click the Personal Folder file with the task folder in it and select "Properties …". Check-mark "Display reminders and tasks from this folder in the To-Do Bar".

  5. KW says:

    John H. Selns- thanks- that worked perfectly. Outlook did not behave this way in the last version (XP.) I like to put my completed tasks in other folders, and your solution was the easy answer…thanks again