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Create Tasks from Outlook Emails: The $900 Answer


Create Tasks from Emails in OutlookIt must be the best-kept secret of Microsoft Outlook.

Many of my coaching clients are floored when I show them how to create tasks from email in Outlook. They say, “Wow, that was worth the whole $900 [cost of Premium Remote Coaching]” or “Nobody in our organization knew how to do that!” That last one came from a brilliant guy in a huge firm with a lot of IT support staff. It seems easy to some, but others don’t know it’s even possible.

Honestly, tips like this help, but they aren’t the real point of Priacta’s coaching and training. Principles, like those we teach in Total, Relaxed Organization, are invariant and apply anywhere. Tools, on the other hand, are just helps for applying principles effectively, and tips are usually just smart ways to use tools. Tools change, but principles are permanent. (See our 4-faceted training model for an idea of how they interrelate.)

So here’s the free, $900* answer. Hopefully this tip will help you work faster, so you can focus on more important things, like really getting control of your time and tasks.

Click, Drag, Hover, Drop

Creating tasks from emails in Outlook is as simple as:

  • Click. Click on the email. (You can also right click and get more options. See below.)
  • Drag. Hold the mouse button down and drag the email to the Tasks icon in the navigation bar (usually at the left). You can also drag it to the Tasks window button in the Windows task bar if you have a separate Tasks window open.
  • Hover. Without releasing the mouse button, hover a couple of seconds until the Tasks window opens.
  • Drop. Let go of the mouse button. A new task is created. (If you want to create the new task in a specific task list, move the cursor over that task list first.)

You just “collected” a task from an email. Easy.

Variation: Right Click

Create Tasks from Email in Outlook

If you right click when dragging instead of the usual left click, you get a context menu with some cool options. Here’s what they let you do:

  • Copy Here as Task with Text. Creates a new task. The full contents of the email are saved as text in the task Notes. You can read it easily but cannot open the email and Reply or Forward. Email attachments are not copied into the task.
  • Copy Here as Task with Attachment. Creates a new task. The email appears as an attachment in the task Notes. Double-click the email to read, reply, or forward. All email attachments appear in the saved email.
  • Move Here as Task with Attachment. Moves the email and converts it to a task. The original email is appears as an attachment in the task Notes. Double-click the email to read, reply, or forward. All email attachments appear inside the email.

Even Easier: Trog Bar

If you’re using Priacta’s Trog Bar software, it’s even easier. You simply drag and drop the task into Trog Bar and a window pops out for immediate processing. Or drag and drop it into your Action email folder and the email appears in Trog Bar as an unprocessed task. No conversion to a task is necessary, since Trog manages emails as tasks automatically.


Your Tips and Suggestions?

What shortcuts and tricks help you in the tools you use?

*Prices are subject to change without notice.

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Filed under: Software,Tips,Training — Tags: , , , — Kevin Crenshaw @ 10:00 pm


  1. Here is the Entourage version for any Mac users out there!

    While the message is highlighted in your inbox, hit Control-T and the task creation box will appear!

    Set due date, reminder, priority and/or frequency, then hit save or Command-S and then Command-W to close the window. You can then manage it from the Task button any time!

    Karen Clark

    Comment by funfelt — 14 May 2008 @ 11:40 pm

  2. What if I have an email that I want to send as a task to somebody else? How can I do this?

    Thank you,

    Nathan Toner

    Comment by Nathan Toner — 25 June 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Nathan,

    Thanks for asking. This required more than a quick answer, so I’ve posted a full blog article on it. Look it over and let me know if you have further questions.


    Comment by Kevin Crenshaw — 30 June 2008 @ 8:51 pm


    Comment by ArcastGat — 10 April 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  5. Is there any way to do this by just using the keyboard?

    Comment by Paul — 5 January 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  6. Brilliant. Exactly what I was looking for. The right click + drag is great.

    Comment by Ben Teoh — 9 March 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  7. FWIW this trick also works if you want to create a calendar event from an email, with the added option (when you right-click/drag/hover/release) of creating a link to the original email… ;)

    Comment by Steve Weprin — 7 April 2011 @ 9:03 am

  8. Is there any possibility to edit standard template of “Task” – to add some new items (for example Manufacturer, Type of transport..) for more effective managing?

    Comment by Jan Cervenka — 22 June 2011 @ 12:21 am

  9. Some few add-ins have done things like this, however they usually simply re-purpose existing fields.
    In reality, what you are looking for is either supply chain management software or a CRM. Don’t keep company information in your personal task list, as that will cause you problems down the road.

    Comment by Coach Nate — 29 June 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  10. How about the reverse of this? I want to create a custom task that will create an email message in Outlook 2010? I am stumped on how to create and save the VB although I have the steps I need to enter.

    Comment by DEM — 17 August 2011 @ 11:27 am

  11. How can I edit an existing task to extend the due date?

    Comment by Cathy Davenport — 1 September 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  12. @DEM, click on “Status Report” if you have MS Outlook 2007!
    @Kevin, thanks… that is really easy! I didn’t imagine trying drag-drop to get task/appointment created before!

    Comment by Unic Man — 3 October 2011 @ 9:18 am

  13. Hi,
    When I have a email with a table within, and try to drag it into the task window, the task is created, but the table format in the email message is not retained.

    Is there anyway to keep the table formatting when dragging droppign an email to task?


    Comment by petey123 — 15 June 2012 @ 4:24 pm

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