Turn emails into tasks with Microsoft Outlook and To Do

Deal with the email in your inbox smarter and faster

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Some emails require some action and it may not be possible to do it immediately. Put it off till later by turning a Microsoft Outlook email into a Microsoft To Do task you won’t forget.

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Microsoft Outlook is a great email service and is used by hundreds of millions of people. The Microsoft To Do app is also shaping up to be an excellent tool for managing your daily, weekly and recurring tasks. It is even more important now that Wunderlist is gone.

Both services are accessible everywhere, on the web at outlook.com and to-do.microsoft.com, as apps on the computer and on Android phones and the iPhone.

For this guide showing how to turn emails in Outlook that require some input or action into tasks in To Do I will be using the Android app on an Android phone. However, it can just as easily be done on an iPhone.

Microsoft’s apps sync across devices, so you can do this on any mix of devices – web, phone, and desktop app. A change made in one place is reflected everywhere.

1 Open the To Do menu

Microsoft To Do menu on an Android phone

Open the Microsoft To Do app on your phone (Android and iOS apps work the same) and if it starts with the My Day view or something else, tap the back arrow at the top right to go to the task list screen. Tap the down arrow next to your name at the top of the screen.

2 Go to Settings

The account screen in Microsoft To Do app on a phone

The account screen appears and there is a Settings option at the bottom. Press it to continue, we need to change the settings.

3 Add a new list

Microsoft To Do app settings on a phone

There is a collection of predefined lists that the To Do app can use, along with on/off switches to show or hide them. If Flagged email is turned off, turn it on. This will add the item to the list screen (first screenshot).

4 Flag an email in Outlook

Flag an email in the Outlook phone app

Open the Outlook app on your phone (web, computer, anywhere) and open an email. Tap the three dots at the top and then press Flag on the menu. It adds a small red flag to the message.

Swipe options in the Microsoft Outlook app on a phone

To make it even easier to flag email messages, go into Outlook app settings and configure the Swipe options. Tap CHANGE to choose an action for a left or right swipe. I set up Swipe right to flag an email.

Swipe actions in the Outlook phone app

Now I can go through the inbox email list and swipe to flag anything that requires action. (I set up swipe left to delete emails, so I can quickly deal with messages.)

5 To Do flagged email

Flagged email list in Microsoft To Do

After flagging some email messages that need actions in Outlook, switch back to the Microsoft To Do app and there is now a Flagged email section. I flagged one message and the count is shown on the right, but you can flag multiple emails. Tap Flagged email to open the to-do list.

6 View email tasks

Flagged email to-do list in Microsoft To Do app on a phone

Here is the email I flagged that requires some action. It has been automatically turned into a task and when it has been completed, the circle can be tapped to indicate it.

It may not be clear from this brief to-do list entry what the original email was about if you have forgotten, but you don’t need to hunt for it in the Outlook app, just tap Message below the title and the full original email is shown.

The way that these two apps, Outlook and To Do, work together is very useful and this is a welcome addition to the features. It helps you to manage your tasks more easily and to avoid forgetting to deal with important messages that require some action or follow-up.

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