Flagging E-Mail Messages in Outlook

Over time, flags have become a favorite Outlook feature for users who need help remembering important messages. If you can't respond to an important e-mail right away, you can flag that message as soon as you read it. Then, you'll be sure to get back to it. You can also plant a flag in a message you send to others to remind them of a task they have to do if both you and the other person are on a Microsoft Exchange network at your job.

One-click flagging

When you look at the list of messages in your Inbox, you see a little box at the right end of each subject line containing a little, gray outline of a flag, sort of a shadow flag. When you click that little shadow, it changes from gray to a bright red color to show you've flagged it. Now, whenever you look at your list of messages, you know which messages need further attention. Those you've flagged also appear in the To-Do Bar on the right side of the Outlook screen so that you can see flagged messages even after they've slipped below the bottom of the screen.

Once you've attended to your flagged message, click the flag again. That replaces the flag with a check mark to show you've taken care of that message.

Setting flags for different days

If you click only once on a message to add a flag, a copy of the message appears in your To-Do Bar along with the list of things you're scheduled to do today. You might not be ready to deal with a certain message today; you might prefer to put it off until tomorrow or next week. If you right-click the flag button on the message form, you see a list of possible due dates for a flag, including Today, Tomorrow, This Week, Next Week, No Date, and Custom. Once you've picked a due date, you can always change it by dragging the item from one due date to another. For example, you can drag an item from the Today group to the Next Week group (if both groups are visible). You can also double-click the item to reopen it and choose a different due date.

Changing the default flag date

For unusually busy people and persistent procrastinators, you can change the default due dates of your flags by following these steps:

1. Right-click any flag.

The flag shortcut menu appears.

2. Choose Set Defaults.

Another shortcut menu appears, offering several choices of due date.

3. Pick the date that suits you.

The date you choose becomes the default flag due date.

If you have trouble committing to a date (you're so fickle), you can choose "No Date" and just wait until someone complains.

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