Track e-mail messages that require follow up

By flagging e-mail messages, you can track responses to messages that you send. You can also make sure that you follow up on messages that you receive. In either case, you can include a reminder alert.

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About tracking e-mail messages for follow-up

Flagged e-mail messages help you better manage your mail. Flagged messages create to-do items either for you alone or for you and the recipients of the e-mail message. For example, you can flag an e-mail message that requests information that you need by a certain date. When the recipient receives the message, a flag appears with it and a special message appears on the InfoBar in the Reading Pane and at the top of the message when opened in Outlook.

A message flagged for yourself can help you track who has replied to the message. In the previous scenario, you sent a flagged e-mail message requesting information by a certain date. By also flagging the message for yourself, you are reminded to check for replies. Outlook can even help you automatically find replies to the original flagged message.

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

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Flag a message you send to remind recipients to follow-up

You need responses to an e-mail message that you are about to send. To remind your recipients to respond, you can use a flag to send a reminder with your message.

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

  1. In a new e-mail message, on the Message tab, in the Options group, click Follow Up Button image.
  2. Click Flag for Recipients.
  3. Under Flag for Recipients, click the type of flag in the Flag to list.
  4. By default, a reminder will accompany the task. If you want only the flag without the reminder alert, clear the Reminder check box.

After you click OK, the InfoBar displays the option that you choose.

Outlook InfoBar

 Note   Received flagged e-mail messages are not automatically added to Tasks, the To-Do Bar, or the Daily Task List. If a reminder is included, the reminder alert activates at the specified time unless the item is opened and the reminder is turned off.

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Flag a message you send to remind you to later check for replies

Sometimes you know that you need a response to an e-mail message that you are about to send. To make sure that you remember to check for the recipient's response, do the following:

  1. In a new e-mail message, on the Message tab, in the Options group, click Follow Up Button image.
  2. Indicate when you want to be reminded about this message.

By default, the following flag Start dates, Due dates, and reminders are avilable.

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 does not appear on the list. Click OK to close the dialog box.

The InfoBar displays the option that you choose.

 Note   If you want to further customize your flag by specifying Start and Due dates or changing when a reminder alert will appear, follow the steps in the Flag messages for both yourself and others section. You can always clear the Flag for Recipients check box to customize flags just for you.

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Flag a message you send to remind recipients to follow-up and you to later check for replies

To simultaneously flag a message both for yourself and the recipients, do the following:

  1. In a new e-mail message, on the Message tab, in the Options group, click Follow Up Button image.
  2. Click Flag for Recipients.

The Flag for Recipients and Reminder for recipients check boxes are selected. If you want the recipient to receive a flag, but no 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. Either for yourself or for the recipients, you can enter the flag text that you want to display. If the Flag to list doesn't contain the text that you want, type a new entry in the text box, and then press ENTER.
  4. If either the Reminder check box for Flag for Me or the Flag for Recipients is selected, you can specify a time for a reminder to be activated.
  5. Click OK.

The InfoBar displays the options that you choose.

Outlook InfoBar

 Note   You cannot change the flag text or set start dates and due dates if you are using an IMAP e-mail account.

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Find the responses to flagged messages you sent

This feature requires that you save your sent e-mail messages. By default, sent messages are saved in the Sent Items folder. If your default delivery location — the place where incoming mail is saved — is server running Microsoft Exchange, make sure you do not move, either manually or through Auto Archive, your sent items to a Personal Folders file (.pst) (Personal Folders file (.pst): Data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer. You can assign a .pst file to be the default delivery location for e-mail messages. You can use a .pst to organize and back up items for safekeeping.) file on your computer. Doing so will cause the feature not to work.

  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 e-mail 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 will open and begin searching for related e-mail messages.

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Stop tracking an e-mail conversation

You can choose to turn off a tracking flag on a message at any time.

Do one the following:

  • You have composed an e-mail message and selected a flag, but now want to remove the flag    
    1. In the message draft, on the Message tab, in the Options group, click Follow Up Button image.
    2. Click Clear Flag.
  • You have sent an e-mail message that you flagged for yourself or others, but now want to remove the flag    

Do one of the following:

  • Delete the original flagged e-mail message from the To-Do Bar.

This deletes the e-mail message from your Mail folders as well.

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

 Note   Recipients of your e-mail message will still see the flag. Removing the flag 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.

ShowClick here to learn how Mark Complete and Clear Flag differ

Mark Complete     The item remains marked with a follow-up flag, however, it is now displayed 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, you will still see the message until you delete it from your Mail folders.

Clear Flag     The flag is removed from the e-mail 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, once you delete the e-mail message the item will completely disappear from all Outlook views.

  • An e-mail 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 Button image.
  3. Click Clear Flag.

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Flag a message that you receive

You can flag an e-mail message you receive to remind yourself to follow-up or take action at a later time. To flag a received message, do one of the following:

  1. In the message list, click in the flag column next to the message to flag the message with the default flag.

Unless you have changed the default flag, it has both a start date and due date of today.

  1. In the message list, right-click the flag column next to the message.
  2. Select the due date for the task. For example, selecting Next Week specifies a start date of next Monday and a Due date of the following Friday. Click Custom to create a start date and a due date that do not appear in the list.

After you click OK, the InfoBar displays the option that you choose.

Your flagged message will appear in the To-Do Bar, in Tasks, and in the Daily Task List in Calendar.

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

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Outlook 2007