4 Ways to Turn Emails Into Tasks in Microsoft Outlook

To Do lists

If you’re looking for a way to be more productive, consider turning emails into tasks. Without manually copying and pasting all of the details you need, you can create a task from an email in Outlook. This guide shows you four options.

1. Drag an Email to Outlook Tasks

Drag-and-drop is a great way to move items quickly, and the same applies to turning emails into tasks in Outlook.

  1. Select the email in your inbox, drag it to the “Tasks” tab, and release.
Drag email to the Tasks tab
  1. You’ll see the new task box appear with the subject of the email as the task name and the message within the body of the task.
New Task window after dragging an email to Tasks
  1. Complete the remaining fields, as desired, for the task. You can add start and due dates, set a priority, and pick a status. Select “Save & Close” on the top left when you finish.
Save and Close in the new Task window

You’ll see the task in your list in the “Tasks” tab and the email remains in your inbox.

2. Drag an Email to Tasks Using Extra Options

If you want to create the task with the email as an attachment or move the email to your tasks instead of copying it, you can add an extra step to the above drag-and-drop option.

  1. Select the email in your inbox using your right mouse button, drag it to the “Tasks” tab, and release.
Actions when right-clicking and dragging an email to Tasks
  1. You’ll see a small pop-up window with three options. You can copy the email to tasks with text or with an attachment or move it to the tasks with an attachment. Choose the action you want to take.

Like the simple drag-and-drop method earlier, you’ll see the new task window open, ready for you to complete any additional fields and save when you finish.

3. Follow Up on an Email With a Reminder

Maybe you don’t use Outlook Tasks for your to-dos. You can use the Follow-Up feature with a reminder to perform what you need on an email instead.

  1. Select the email in your inbox and head to the “Home” tab. If you have the message open in its own window, go to the “Message” tab. Open the “Follow Up” drop-down box in the Tags section of the ribbon.
Follow Up in the Outlook Tags menu
  1. Select “Add Reminder” from the list. Alternatively, you can choose a time for the follow-up instead; however, this won’t automatically populate the reminder for you.
Add Reminder in the Outlook Follow Up menu
  1. In the Custom pop-up window, you’ll see the “Reminder” box checked at the bottom. Use the drop-down boxes beneath to choose the date and time for the reminder.
Follow Up Add Reminder settings
  1. You can also select the options at the top of the box if you would like. You can pick the type of flag, a start date, and a due date. When you finish, click “OK.”
Follow Up Tag settings
  1. On the date and time you selected, you’ll receive an Outlook reminder for you to take the action connected to the email. You should also see emails you flag for follow up on the “Tasks” tab.
Outlook Follow Up reminder

Note: you can also schedule emails in Outlook and set up automatic forwarding.

4. Set Up a Quick Step to Create a Task From an Email

One more way to turn an email into a task in Outlook is using the Quick Steps feature. You can set up a Quick Step to create a task, then select that Quick Step or use a shortcut you assign to it.

  1. Go to the “Home” tab in Outlook and click the “More” arrow at the bottom of the Quick Steps box in that section of the ribbon or use the Quick Steps drop-down menu if your ribbon is condensed.
Quick Steps on the Home tab
  1. Move to “New Quick Step” and select “Custom.”
Custom in the New Quick Step menu
  1. At the top of the Edit Quick Step window, give your new Quick Step a name.
Name a new Quick Step
  1. In the Actions section, open the drop-down list and go to the “Categories, Tasks, and Flags” section. Choose either “Create a task with attachment” or “Create a task with text of message.”
Quick Step Task action options
  1. If you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Quick Step, open the “Shortcut key” drop-down box near the bottom and pick the combination you want to use.
Quick Step Shortcut Key drop-down list
  1. Click “Finish” to save the Quick Step.
New Quick Step Finish button
  1. The new Quick Step appears in the Quick Steps box on the “Home” tab. To use it, select an email in your inbox and click the Quick Step you set up to create a task or use the keyboard shortcut you assigned.
New Quick Step selected
  1. When the new task box opens, complete the fields and save the task.
New Task from the Quick Step

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I convert flagged emails to tasks in Outlook?

When you use the Follow Up feature described above, you can convert those flagged emails to tasks in Microsoft To-Do if that’s your preferred task application. Be sure you’re signed in to Microsoft To-Do and Outlook with the same account.

Click the “To-Do” tab in Outlook and select the gear icon to view the settings. In the “Connected Apps” section, turn on the toggle for “Flagged email.” Use the “X” on the top right to close the settings, and you’ll see a folder for “Flagged email” in the list.

How do I convert an email to a task in the Outlook web application?

In Outlook on the Web, you can use the My Day feature to turn an email into a task.

Select the “My Day” button in the toolbar on the top right to open My Day. Drag the email from your inbox to the “To Do” tab or the “Add as a task” area.

Can I assign emails I turn into tasks?

When the new task box is opened using one of the above methods, select “Assign Task” on the “Task” tab. Enter the assignee’s name in the To field and click “Send” to assign them the task.

For a follow-up email, go to the “Tasks” tab, select the email task in the list. Use the “Assign Task” button on the “Task” tab, then send the task to the assignee.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.

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