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Using Outlook Today and the To-Do bar in Outlook 2007

Updated on October 13, 2012

Introduction

Most people working with email today agree that dealing with their daily email deluge is becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. Outlook 2007 is an excellent email client which has many brilliant features that allow you to regain control over your mailbox and feel in control of your email once again.

Today, I am continuing my series of hubs on using features in Outlook 2007 to help you organise yourself better with a look at Outlook Today and the To-Do bar. Both allow you to see in broad strokes what you need to do in your mailbox today. Both allow you to click on items (for example an upcoming appointment) to go directly to that item in your Outlook.

The main difference between the two is that Outlook Today is typically a page that is accessed when you start Outlook (assuming you have configured it to do so), whereas the To-Do bar is always visible on the right hand side of your Outlook. The below picture shows Outlook Today on the left and the To-Do bar is on the right.

Outlook Today (left) compared to the To-Do bar (right) in Outlook 2007.
Outlook Today (left) compared to the To-Do bar (right) in Outlook 2007. | Source

Outlook Today can be configured to be your default Outlook view when you launch Outlook. It gives you a quick summary of your overall mailbox status including your tasks list and calendar which is an excellent tool to assist you in planning your day. Outlook Today is not widely used which is a shame.

The To-Do bar sits on the right hand side of your mailbox and displays a similar range of information including your upcoming appointments and outstanding tasks.

Getting started with Outlook Today

Outlook Today is found at the top of your Outlook folders where it says Mailbox - <Your name>. If you click on Mailbox - <Your name> you will see the below screen (assuming that you have not already configured Outlook Today already).

Outlook Today's default settings in Outlook 2007.
Outlook Today's default settings in Outlook 2007. | Source

The first step is to configure Outlook today to start automatically. This is done by selecting the option When starting, go directly to Outlook Today.

Configuring Outlook Today

As Outlook Today will be the first thing that you see every day when you open Outlook, it is important to pause and think exactly what you would like Outlook to show you. Once you have determined what it is you would like to see you can go ahead and configure it to meet your needs.

Messages

Firstly, you need to decide which folders you would like to display in Outlook Today. By default, Outlook 2007 chooses Draft, Inbox and Outbox. It is unlikely that those are the folders you are most interested in, so click Choose Folders and select all the folders that you are most interested in and click OK. Outlook today will display the number of unread emails in each of the folders in Outlook Today

Calendar

The next step is the Calendar. Note that you are only able to see your own calendar in this view. You can choose the number of days that you want to display. This really comes down to personal preference; I have it set to one day as I don’t have that many meetings across the week.

Tasks

The next section is Tasks. You can choose between showing all tasks, or just your tasks for today. You can also sort the displayed tasks into your preferred order by importance, due date, start date or creation time.

Styles

Finally, you can choose a style from the four available styles. These are purely cosmetic and a matter of personal taste.

Configuring the To-Do Bar

The To-Do bar can be turned on via the View menu. Click on the To-Do bar on the View menu and you have two options to turn it on Normal and Minimised. To turn if off, select Off.

In the same part of the menu, you have the option to select or deselect the following

Date Navigator – displays the current calendar month and bolds any days that you have meetings scheduled. Clicking any day on this panel sends you directly to that day in your calendar.

Appointments – this displays the next three appointments you have in your calendar regardless of how far apart they are.

Task List – shows the list of active tasks arranged by due date.

By clicking Options in the same menu, you can further configure the To-Do bar as shown below.

Configurable options for the To-Do bar in Outlook 2007.
Configurable options for the To-Do bar in Outlook 2007. | Source

The main option of interest is the ability to show more or fewer appointments. If you have a particularly busy calendar you may want to increase this.

You can also choose to show or hide Appointment, the Date Navigator and the Task List here as well.

Conclusion

Both the Outlook Today page and the To-Do bar are excellent resources available to you to assist you in organising your work in Outlook 2007. They both provide a snapshot of your upcoming work, with both displaying your upcoming meetings or appointments and outstanding tasks. Which you choose to use is largely up to your working style. The Outlook Today page is typically used when you open Outlook, whereas the To-Do bar is always available on the right hand side of Outlook.

Thanks for reading, I do hope that you enjoyed this hub and found the information useful. Please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.

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      Robbie C Wilson 5 years ago

      Many thanks for your comment. Outlook 2007 is still very common in many firms and is widely used across the world. When my firm upgrade me to Office 2010, then I will begin to write hubs on Office 2010. Outlook is also the one part of office than changes very little from version to version.

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      Larry Wall 5 years ago

      The latest version is 2010, why are you doing an older version, when there will probably be another version within the year.

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