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The To-Do Bar is brand-new to Outlook 2007, and enables you to track your time and tasks wherever you are in the application. We hope you’ll find the post below informative, and in the coming months we will posting more about tips and tricks about using the To-Do Bar. Enjoy!
Instead of looking at scraps of paper, notepads, planners, and the Outlook Inbox, you can see everything you need to do simply by looking at the To-Do Bar. The To-Do Bar shows a Date Navigator (a small monthly calendar), your upcoming appointments, and a list of your tasks on the side of the screen. In the To-Do Bar, you can accept/decline meetings, quickly access the full Calendar, add new tasks, categorize, rearrange, and change the dates of your tasks all while responding to e-mail. With the To-Do Bar, you may never leave your Inbox.
A little background…
During site visits, we discovered that people frequently referred to desk calendars or their system clocks when looking for the date (sometimes changing their system clocks in the process - oops.) To help with this simple task, we added a Date Navigator to the To-Do Bar, which allows you to find a date with just a glance. In addition, clicking on a date in the Date Navigator takes you to the Calendar, making it even easier to get to this often visited place.
For many of us, what we can accomplish in a day is dictated by what appointments and meetings we have. By default, the To-Do Bar shows your next three appointments (you can change this in the To-Do Bar Options). Like the Date Navigator, the appointments in the To-Do Bar look and act just like they do in the Calendar: you can right-click on them to accept/decline meetings, change privacy settings, apply a Color Category, forward, print, and open.
Through our time management research, we found that people are likely to use scraps of paper or notepads to keep track of the tasks they need to complete because a) the content of these lists is always visible and b) it is easy to add items. Therefore, in the To-Do Bar, we made tasks always visible and added a task entry bar where tasks can be entered without switching context.
To add a task to the To-Do Bar, you can:
(And this is just within Outlook. You can also create tasks in SharePoint, OneNote, and Project and have them show up in Outlook too.)
We also improved upon paper lists by making it easy to manage your tasks once they are in the list. Once a task is in the To-Do Bar, you can:
In cell editing in the To-Do Bar: Changing to-do title of flagged e-mail with subject "Go to Soccer Game" to "Cancel Soccer Game"
The To-Do Bar also filters out completed items, keeping your list tidy.
You can change the arrangement of tasks in the To-Do Bar by using the arrangement drop down at the top of the task list. This feature enables you to easily switch from viewing your tasks by start date to due date to categories, etc. You can even specify your own custom arrangement.
Arrangement drop down: Default sorted by Due Date.
To prevent you from losing your tasks, overdue tasks continue to "roll over" to the present day until they are marked complete, deleted, or the flag is cleared. If you don’t complete your tasks, they will begin to accumulate in the Today grouping. However, we have kept the coloring of overdue tasks so that you can tell them apart.
Because not everyone works in the same way, we have tried to make the To-Do Bar as flexible as possible. The task list can be customized in the same ways that lists in the Task Module can be customized. (For example, you can turn off the coloring of overdue tasks by clicking on the Arrange by: header in the To-Do Bar, then Custom…, and then change the settings in Automatic Formatting.) You can also change the number of Date Navigators and appointments shown in the To-Do Bar by going to the View menu then to To-Do Bar (or from the context menu when you right-click on an empty area in the To-Do Bar )
Context Menu: Right-click on an empty area to get the context menu.
While one of the To-Do Bar's advantages is that it's always visible, you can also minimize it, thereby allowing for more space for viewing mail while still providing useful information such as the time and subject of the next appointment and the number of remaining tasks on the day. Clicking on the minimized version also has the added benefit of flying out in order to see your upcoming appointments and tasks without the need for fully expanding the To-Do Bar.
Mini To-Do Bar: Clicking the minimized To-Do Bar shows the fly-out.
The hope is that the flexibility we have provided will let you work any way that you are accustomed to – while still providing valuable information to help you get your job done.
We would love to hear about your own experiences with the To-Do Bar and what ways you have made it work best for you.
Jed BrownOutlook Program Manager
Excellent updates to Outlook. For however much I try to shy away from MSoft products (sorry...) - I think this update to Outlook and also the updates to OneNote will make me go get my tablet pc back out and test out being a PC guy once again (been using a MAC 95% of the time these days)... really, an excellent hub to be more than just email now - visually appealling and organized very, very well.
The task part is good, and I like it that the pane is separately configurable for each folder (eg the pane for mail is different from the one for task). OTOH the appointment part has hardly anything to configure. I should like to see ways to filter appointments, not just the next one/two/three appointements. Typical filter needs:
show or omit by a subset of categories
by status (free/busy etc)
omit "all day" appointments
Always frustrated by the fact that it doesn't display all day appointments and there's no option to do so. I've missed some things that were marked as all-day appointments because of this. Otherwise I love the To-Do bar but I always turn off the date navigator as I don't find it that useful and I'm often using it on my pixel-constrained tablet pc. Another suggestion... in low resolution modes, can you maybe not display the vertical "To-Do Bar" and "Navigation Pane" labels when they are collapsed? I know what the bars are and those labels take up valuable pixels that block off any useful information in the collapsed mode on my UMPC which operates at 800x480. If the labels were gone then I'd be able to see something.
I like new feature To-Do Bar. Thanks
I think the new Outlook is good ( I have to give him 7 out of 10 ) because I get a lot and a lot of stupid errors. In Mails, sometimes the attachments don't appear as attachments. Outlook place the file at the end of the email. Like you opened the file using Notepad. Also, when someone write in Windows-Arabic Encryption the reading panel don't use this encryption to display the message this also happen to the title. I have to open it and select the Windows-Arabic Encryption to see it. Also I think there is error in alignment when someone type English word with Arabic words in the same line. Now about the To-do sidebar. I think it's very good but I think it must read all calenders. e.g. Internet Calenders. Also, I have a question. Why the new outlook doesn't use the " Rippon " the new tool bar? And why there is no things new with Outlook Today page? Finally, Thank you for this blog. Bye
I love the to do bar. Only issue for me is: why don't "all day" appointments show up in the bar? Is there a fix for this?
+1 to Josh and James: Why don't "all day" appointments show up in the bar? Is there a fix for this? I'm missing all the friends birthdays because of this.
Here's a tip for everyone I cooked up yesterday, after dwelving more into the To-Do bar. I was irritated by the fact, that in the task list of the To-Do bar, a task with a due date of 2010 was always showing up. So, if you want to limit the shown tasks to, say, 3 months, do this: 1. Right-click the arrangement dropdown, and click Custom.
2. Click Filter.
3. On the Advanced tab, click the Field drop-down button, and choose Date/Time fields > Due Date (or Start Date if that better suits your needs).
4. In the Condition dropdown, choose "on or before".
5. In the Value field, enter NOW(3*MONTH(()).
6. Click Add to List.
7. Click OK, and click OK. It took a lot of trials, because I'm not good at SQL, but this seems to work. (You can switch between the Advanced and SQL tabs to see what the returned value is for the Value field.) I hope its useful for someone out there.
Guys, I love all the possibilities in the new Outlook. I've been a user for years. However, I use 2-3 computers: one at home, one at work, and a notebook. For me, using multiple computers means I can't centralize my work in Outlook because there is no viable sync solution that I have found (and I've tried many). Why don't you make this a native part of Outlook?
Great article, one feature I would love to have is when you mouse over the task or email that is flagged, a preview of the email or task would appear.
Awesome! Now can you just get my company's IT dept. to speed the roll-out to earlier than "end of 2007"?!?
Any plans to include any task or appointment items into the Vista Sidebar?
I use the to-do bar a lot. One thing I don't like is that when I arrange the to-do items my favourite way, that setting isn't sticky. I use "show in groups" and "arrange by type" so that the list shows only my tasks. I'll often start Outlook to see that it's reverted back to showing my flagged and categorized emails.
Here is something that I would like to see for the To-Do bar. When selecting a different date on the calendar have it show you the appointments on that day just below it. Right now when you click on a future date it opens the calendar which is really annoying.
There are two Outlook-team produced gadgets available for the Windows Vista Sidebar: an Upcoming Appointments gadget and a Tasks gadget. These gadgets are available from http://gallery.live.com by searching for Outlook.