Outlook add-ins add features to the email app that work on the website and also on your phone in the Outlook app. See how to enable add-ins and power-up email with third-party tools.
Outlook.com is Microsoft’s hugely popular email service and it can be accessed everywhere – on desktop computers using a browser and on Android and iOS phones and tablets using the Outlook mail app. It is used by millions of people and Microsoft has been steadily adding new features over the years, turning it into a powerful email service.
It is pretty good and it has many useful features but it can be made even better by integrating it with external services like project managers, task managers, organisers, calendars and to-do lists.
Quite often we receive an email that requires some sort of action and there is a task that needs to be done, either by us or by someone else. The email might contain information useful to a work or personal project and we don’t want it to be lost among the thousands of other emails in our inbox.
We often fire up some external app or website and add the contents of the email to a project or task, copy information from it and save it elsewhere, make a note to reply or forward the message and so on. An email can result in us doing or scheduling tasks.
By using Outlook.com add-ins you can perform these tasks without leaving your inbox. Add-ins integrate with external services like Todoist, Evernote, MeisterTask, Nimble, SmartSheet, Wrike and others, and they enable you to create tasks and store information from emails from within a message in your inbox.
Microsoft does enable you to turn emails into tasks using Microsoft To Do, as I showed in Turn Outlook flagged emails into tasks and to-dos using flags, but you may prefer a third-party service.
Add-ins save time and effort, particularly when using a mobile phone where switching between apps and copying information from one app to another is harder than on a desktop computer.
Let’s see how to install an add-in in the Outlook email app on a phone. I will be using an Android phone, but Outlook on an iPhone has similar features and you should be able to work out what to press.
Find and install Outlook add-ins
Open the Outlook mail app on your phone and press the icon in the top left corner to open the side panel menu. Press the gear icon in the bottom left corner to enter Settings.
Scroll down the settings page and and look for Add-ins. Press it to see what is available to install in Outlook. A long list of add-ins is displayed and some have been available for years, but some are new. More will be added, so if you don’t see what you need today, try again in a month or two because it may have been added.
Installing add-ins could not be easier. Just tap the plus next to one and it becomes a tick. I selected Wrike, which is a popular task, project and to-do manager and I am using a free account. I am also using a free Outlook email account with no Office/Microsoft 365 subscription. Everything here works for free.
How to use Outlook add-ins on a phone
Different add-ins have different features, so what you see and what you can do will depend on what you install. I am using Wrike to turn Outlook emails into tasks, which is one specific add-in, but it should give you a good idea of what to expect when you use an Outlook add-in
Open an email and ignore the three dots in the top right corner. That menu enables you to create tasks in Microsoft To Do. Instead, press the three dots in the email itself. This shows a different menu.
A menu slides up from the bottom of the screen and displays a list of actions you can perform on the email. Add-ins are displayed at the bottom (and a More Add-ins button to install new ones.)
Once-only authorization for add-ins
The first time an add-in is used, you need to provide account details, authorize it, and tell it where you want to create tasks. You also need to already have an account with the service you are using.
These steps are specific to Wrike, but other add-ins have similar requirements to log into your account and choose what to do with the email.
Turn emails into tasks
After using an add-in for the first time and setting it up, you go straight to this next screen when the Wrike add-in is selected.
Different add-ins have different features and this is just one example of an add-in. Wrike asks if you want to convert the email into a new task or add it as a comment to an existing task. If you choose to add it as a comment, you are asked to select an existing task. If you convert it to a task, this screen appears.
The email subject is used for the task title and there are options to set a due date, assign it to someone, add a comment and more. Press Done and the task is created. It appears in your Wrike account, so it is immediately visible everywhere, like on your computer in a browser, to collaborators and so on.
There are some great add-ins for Outlook that enable you to work with third-party services. There are extra steps involved in using an add-in for the first time, but once one is configured, using it is very easy. It can boost productivity when dealing with email.