Tip o’ the Week #37 – Quickly create a new task

clip_image002If you’re super-efficient and use Outlook’s tasks functionality a lot, here’s a tip that might help you create a new task in double-quick time.

Obviously, you can create tasks directly from Outlook itself (clicking on the New Items ribbon menu option, by pressing CTRL-N when you’re in the Tasks view itself, or by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-K if you’re anywhere else in Outlook).

If you’re in OneNote, position the cursor next to the action item or other text that you want to make a task from, and either click the giant Tasks flag on the Ribbon, or else use the keyboard shortcuts that are displayed on the menu.

Pretty useful so far, eh?clip_image004

Well, here’s a final method for creating new Outlook tasks that is accessible from anywhere – if you’re reading a web page or a Word doc, it can help you immediately fire up a new Outlook task without having to navigate into Outlook to do it.

The tip uses a Shortcut for an application – a technology that was introduced with Windows 95 and even has its roots in the old Win3.x “Program Manager”.

The simplest way to create a shortcut is to look at your desktop (WinKey+D will instantly minimise all windows).
Actually you might want to minimise everything, then ALT-TAB back to this email, then
use WindowsKey+LeftArrow to dock it to one side, leaving an area of exposed desktop.

Now, right-click on the desktop and select New -> Shortcut then start typing in \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\Outlook.exe (you’ll see as you type, that the full names of each directory get auto-completed for you, so you could just use the up/down keys to select the right one, and by pressing “\” again, you’ll be able to carry on typing the name of the next folder…).

clip_image005Once you’ve got OUTLOOK.EXE, hit Next, then give the shortcut a meaningful name (like New Task). Now, right-click on the shortcut, change the icon if you like (to be less generic Outlook and more Task-clip_image007oriented), and add /c ipm.task to the end of the command line. This tells Outlook that you want to start directly in a new item window – you could later create  other shortcuts with other types if you like (ipm.note for email, ipm.contact, ipm.appointment, ipm.stickynotes etc…).

Now click on the “Shortcut Key” box in the properties dialog and press whatever combination of shortcut keys you can remember: CTRL-ALT-T might be a good place to start. Press OK to finish, and Robert’s your father’s brother. Now press that key combo from anywhere and it should fire up a new Task window to the fore.

Other Outlook command line switches are available… if you’re feeling brave.

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