Track email messages that require follow up

Flagging email messages helps you track responses to messages that you send and follow up on messages that you receive. In either case, you can also include a reminder alert.

What do you want to do?


Flag to remind recipients to follow up

When you must have a timely response to a message, use a flag for the recipients.

 Tip    Use this feature with discretion. Some recipients might not appreciate having reminders added to their Outlook.

  1. Before you click Send, on the Message tab, in the Tags group, click Follow Up, and then click Custom.
  2. Click Flag for Recipients.
  3. Under Flag for Recipients, click a flag in the Flag to list.
  4. By default, a reminder accompanies the task. To send a flag without a reminder alert, clear the Reminder check box.

The flag text that recipients receive appears in the InfoBar (InfoBar: Banner near the top of an open e-mail message, appointment, contact, or task. Tells you if a message has been replied to or forwarded, along with the online status of a contact who is using Instant Messaging, and so on.).

Flags and reminders for recipients show in the message Infobar.

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Flag to remind you to follow up

If you must follow up on a message that you are about to send, set a reminder for yourself.

  1. Before you click Send, on the Message tab, in the Tags group, click Follow Up.
  2. Click a flag for when you want to be reminded about this message.

By default, the following flag start dates, due dates, and reminders are available:

Flag Start date Due date Reminder
Today Current date Current date One hour before the end time of today's work day
Tomorrow Current date plus one day Current date plus one day Start time of current day plus one work day
This Week Current date plus two days, but no later than the last work day of this week Last work day of this week Start time of current day plus two work days
Next Week First work day of next week Last work day of next week Start time of the first work day of next week
No Date No date No date Current date
Custom Current date Current date Current date

Alternately, click Custom to create a Start date and Due date that doesn’t appear on the list. Click OK to close the dialog box.

The flag text that recipients receive appears in the InfoBar.

 Note    If you want to customize the flag by specifying Start and Due dates or change when the reminder alert appears, follow the steps in the Flag to remind you and recipients to follow up section. You can clear the Flag for Recipients check box to customize flags that only you see.

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Flag to remind you and recipients to follow up

To flag a new message both for you and the recipients, do the following:

  1. On the Message tab, in the Tags group, click Follow Up.
  2. Click Flag for Recipients.

To send a flag without a reminder alert, clear the Reminder check box.

  1. Select the Flag for Me check box, and if you want, the Reminder check box.
  2. You can specify a Start date and a Due date for the Flag for Me.
  3. In the Flag to list, click the flag text that you want to appear. You can also type custom text in the box, and then press ENTER.

 Note    You can’t change the flag text or set the Start date and Due date if you are using an IMAP email account.

  1. If either the Reminder check box for Flag for Me or the Flag for Recipients is selected, specify a time for a reminder.
  2. Click OK.

The flag text appears in the InfoBar.

InfoBar for a message with Follow Up reminders

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Find responses to your flagged messages

After you send a message that uses a flag, you can search for responses.

 Note    By default, sent messages are saved in the Sent Items folder. If you use a Microsoft Exchange account and move your sent items to an Outlook Data File (.pst) either manually or with AutoArchive, this feature isn’t available.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Open the original message in the Sent Items folder.
    • Open the flagged sent message in the To-Do Bar.
    • Open any message that is a response to the original message, click the InfoBar, and then click Open original flagged message.
  2. Click the InfoBar, and then click Find related messages.

The Advanced Find dialog box appears and a search starts for messages that are a response to your flagged message.

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Stop tracking an email conversation

When tracking a message is no longer wanted, you can clear the flag on the message.

Do one the following:

  • You added a flag to a message that you haven’t sent, but now want to remove the flag    
    1. In the message draft, on the Message tab, in the Tags group, click Follow Up.
    2. Click Clear Flag.
  • You sent a message that uses a flag for yourself or others, but now want to remove the flag    

Do one of the following:

  • Delete the flagged message in the To-Do Bar.

This also deletes the message in your Mail folders.

  • Right-click the message anywhere it appears in Outlook, and then click Mark Complete or Clear Flag.

 Note    Recipients of the message still see the flag. When you remove a flag, it only affects what you see.

  • A flag reminder appears, and you want to remove the flag    
  • When the reminder alert appears, right-click it, and then click Mark Complete or Clear Flag.

ShowTell me how Mark Complete and Clear Flag differ

Mark Complete     The item remains marked with a follow-up flag, however, it appears with a strikethrough. If the To-Do Bar or Tasks is configured to show all tasks and to-do items regardless of whether they are complete or not, the message appears until you delete it from your Mail folders.

Clear Flag     The flag is removed from the message and there is no record of the message ever appearing in views such as the To-Do Bar and Tasks.

If you want to keep a record of completed items, use Flag Complete. However, as soon as you delete the message the item completely disappears from all Outlook views.

  • A response to a flagged message arrives, and you want to remove the flag    
  1. In the Reading Pane or in the open message, click the InfoBar, and then click Open Original Flagged Message.
  2. On the Message tab, in the Tracking group, click Follow Up.
  3. Click Clear Flag.

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Flag a message that you receive

You can flag a message that you receive to remind yourself to follow up or take action later. To flag a received message, do one of the following:

  • In the message list, click the flag column next to the message.

Unless you have changed the default flag, the flag uses today’s date for the Start date and Due date.

  • In the message list, right-click the flag column next to the message. Select the due date for the task.

For example, if you click Next Week, a Start date of next Monday and a Due date of the following Friday is set. Click Custom to use a Start date and a Due date that don’t appear in the list.

After you click OK, the flag text appears in the InfoBar.

Flagged messages appear in the To-Do Bar, in Tasks, and in the Calendar Daily Task List.

By default, the following flag options are available.

Flag Start date Due date Reminder
Today Current date Current date One hour before the end time of today's work day
Tomorrow Current date plus one day Current date plus one day Start time of current day plus one work day
This Week Current date plus two days, but no later than the last work day of this week Last work day of this week Start time of current day plus two work days
Next Week First work day of next week Last work day of next week Start time of the first work day of next week
No Date No date No date Current date
Custom Current date Current date Current date

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010