What is the To Do Bar?

May 6, 2021 | Outlook Hints and Tips

On my recent training sessions I have found that there have been 2 tools that my delegates have loved in Microsoft Outlook which go hand in hand.

The first is flagging for follow up, but not just your normal flagging, incorporating a date related element as to when the follow up needs to be completed by.  The other is showing the To Do Bar which allows you to see these flagged items, and more, in a summary list while still being able to view the inbox too.

To have the date related option available when flagging the email must be linked to an exchange account rather than an IMAP or POP account.  Even without this functionality the To Do Bar can be a useful feature to turn on. 

Basic Flag for follow up 

Basic flagging can be done directly on an email or from the Home Ribbon by clicking on the Flag icon.  It is also available on many apps that can be used to monitor emails on a phone or tablet.  Although this is great to indicate that an email still needs to be dealt with it applies No Date to the flag.  This means that it is not easy to see what order the emails need to be dealt in. 

Date related Flag for follow up 

By clicking on the drop down on the flag on the ribbon or right clicking on the flag on the email the following options become available. 

  • Today 
  • Tomorrow 
  • This week 
  • Next week 
  • No date
  • Custom

    Custom allows for any specific date to be set.  Reminders can also be applied which pop up like the meeting reminders you may already be familiar with. 

    Date flags in Microsoft Outlook

    The flag colour is bright red for flags with No Date or due Today and paler for others.  Emails that have passed their due date show with red text in the inbox. 

    So even with this it is easier to see when emails are overdue and deal with them as a priority but they are still jumbled up with all the other emails you have been sent. 

    Using the To Do Bar 

    The To Do Bar summarises the flagged emails grouped in dates ranges but in the order they need to be completed.  A calendar can also be added to this bar to show meetings that are scheduled for the next week providing one place where emails, flagged emails and task and meetings can be seen together.  An overall picture of what needs to be done. 

    Turning on the To Do Bar 

    • From the View tab, select To Do Bar 
    • Choose Tasks to show flagged emails and tasks added in the tasks section of Outlook 
    • Repeat to add the calendar if required
      Turn on to do bar in Microsoft Outlook

      The To Do bar will now be visible on the right of the screen. 

        To do bar in Microsoft Outlook

        The flags without a date show at the top and then date groupings show below from most to least urgent, also in red text if the due date has passed.  If the calendar is added this will show below with a list of meetings to be attended. 

        There are several other ways to see flagged emails 

        • Search for flagged emails 
        • Create a customised view to only view flagged emails 
        • Create a search folder for flagged emails 

        The advantage of the To Do Bar is it is always there!! 

        Further Reading

        If you’ve enjoyed reading about how the To Do Bar and Flagging in Microsoft Outlook, there’s some other blogs below that you might find useful:

        Want to learn more about other Outlook features? Then email lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Courses I run.