Handling E-Mail Messages in Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2007

  • 1/3/2007

Creating a Task or an Appointment from a Message

Frequently you need to take some type of action based on the information you receive from another person in an e-mail message. Among other actions, you might need to add an item to your task list or calendar.

Outlook 2007 makes it incredibly simple to add a task to your task list from an e-mail message. In Outlook 2003, you could flag messages for follow up, locate flagged messages within a folder by sorting it on flags, or within your entire mailbox by viewing the For Follow Up Search Folder. In Outlook 2007, flagging a message in any mail folder or flagging a contact record adds that item to your task list, which you can view from the To-Do Bar or the Tasks module.

Although creating a task by flagging a message is very useful, you should be aware of a few limitations. Flagging the message doesn’t create a regular task; it simply adds the message to the task list. Because of this, you can’t assign a flagged message to another Outlook user or track its status. You can mark it as complete by clicking its flag in either the message window, message list, or task list, or by selecting the message and then clicking the Follow Up button on the Standard toolbar: doing so removes the message from your task list and changes the flag to a check mark. The biggest drawback, however, is that you must retain the message—you can move it between mail folders, but deleting the message deletes the task as well.


Tasks created by simply clicking a message flag appear on your task list under the default due date header. You can change the default due date by right-clicking the flag and then clicking Set Quick Click. In the Set Quick Click dialog box, click the due date you want to appear by default (options are limited to Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No Date, and Complete), and then click OK.

You can specify a task due date other than the default when you flag the message, by right-clicking the flag and then clicking the due date: Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No Date, or Custom (which allows you to set specific start and end dates).

Outlook also provides a convenient method of creating a Calendar items (an appointment, event, or meeting request) based on an e-mail message; you simply drag the message to the Calendar button in the Navigation Pane. When you release the mouse button, an appointment window opens, already populated with the message subject as the appointment subject, the message text in the content pane, and any message attachments attached to the appointment. The start and end times are set to the next half-hour increment following the current time. You can convert the appointment to an event or meeting in the same way that you would create an event or meeting from within the Calendar module. You can retain any or all of the information within the message as part of the Calendar item so that you (and other participants, when creating a meeting request) have the information on hand when you need it. After creating the Calendar item, you can delete the actual message from your Inbox.

In this exercise, you will create a task and then an appointment from an e-mail message.

  1. In the message list, scroll to the SBS Tradeshow Schedule message, and then click the transparent flag in the right margin of the message header.

    The flag becomes red, and a task named SBS Tradeshow Schedule appears under the Today header on your To-Do Bar task list.

  2. In the To-Do Bar Task List, point to the SBS Tradeshow Schedule task.

    A ScreenTip appears displaying the start date, reminder time, due date, the folder in which the message appears, and any categories assigned to the message.

  3. Double-click the SBS Tradeshow Schedule task.

    The flagged message opens in a message window. The message header indicates that you need to follow up on this message. The start and due dates given are tomorrow’s date.

  4. Close the message window.

  5. In the Navigation Pane, click the Tasks button to display the Tasks module.

  6. Your active tasks appear in the To-Do List. The icon preceding each item in the list indicates whether it is a standard task, e-mail message, contact, and so on. Message icons match those shown in the Inbox, indicating whether the message is read or unread and whether you’ve replied to or forwarded the message.

  7. In the To-Do List, click the SBS Tradeshow Schedule task to display its details in the Reading Pane.

  8. For the purposes of this exercise, assume that you flagged this message for follow-up because you need to organize a meeting with colleagues to discuss its contents.

  9. Drag the message from the To-Do List to the Calendar button in the Navigation Pane, but don’t release the mouse button.

    As you hold the dragged message over the Calendar button, the Navigation Pane changes to display the Calendar module information instead of the Mail module information.

  10. Drop the message on the Calendar button to create an appointment based on the message.

    You can convert the appointment to an event by selecting the All Day Event check box, or convert it to a meeting by inviting other people to attend. You can edit the information in the content pane without affecting the content of the original message, and you can move or delete the original message without affecting the appointment.

  11. In the appointment window, click the Save & Close button to save the appointment to your calendar.

  12. When the appointment reminder window appears (15 minutes prior to the start time of the appointment) click Dismiss.