Outlook 2010 & Contact Activities

Last reviewed on December 30, 2013

Following a post-SP1 update, Activities now works. All items, including Journal items, are found.

An Outlook user had this question:

After upgrading to Outlook 2010 the contact activities list shows only e-mail no matter what is selected in the Show: dialog box. This showed all linked activities in 2007. Is there a setting I am missing?

If you are using the same profile and *.pst and didn’t import, Activities will only be listed by item. Activities’ “All Items” lists all items that were mailed – meeting and task requests listed there are from mail folders (usually the Sent folder), not your Tasks folder and Calendar.

You can use VBA to send a contact’s name or email address to the Instant Search field in another folder. See Use Instant search to find messages from a contact for details.

Supported Activities

Of the item types you can Show, only email, contacts, and notes work as expected:

  • All items: Shows only e-mailed items, including e-mailed meetings and tasks requests from mail folders (usually in Sent items).
  • Contacts: Works as expected (searches Contacts folders)
  • Email: Shows email only
  • Journal: Does not work.
  • Notes: Works as expected (searches Notes folders)
  • Upcoming Tasks and Appointments: Does not show tasks and appointments from Tasks or Calendar folders.

Contact Activities page
According to the product group, they do plan to fix this in a future update.

Activities in other data files

Activities (as limited as they are in Outlook 2010) are only supported in the default data file. Contacts in other data files will not have an Activities button on the toolbar.

The Activities button is missing if the contact is not in the default data file.

Opening Journaled Files

Outlook can create journal entries when you work on files created in the other Office applications. However, unlike previous versions, you can’t open the associated document. The journal entry opens when you choose the option to open the associated document.

Adding folders to Activities

Add folders to Activities in Outlook 2003In older versions of Outlook you could right click on any Contacts folder and in the Properties dialog, Activities tab, select additional folders to include in Activities displayed for Contacts in the folder. This feature was removed from Outlook 2010.

People Pane as a replacement

The People Pane offers some of the same features found in Activities – this is the future of “activity” searching. While it doesn’t support every Outlook item type, it works well for both contacts and non-contacts alike and is accessible from email or contacts.

One drawback to the People pane is that it seems to stop after maybe 200 messages are found. (I haven’t counted the exact number, mostly because only a few people send me that much email.)

Using Advanced Find to replace the Activities tab

If you need to find all Outlook items that are linked to a contact, using Advanced Find will find everything. You need to select All Outlook Items from the top of the dialog then switch to the Advanced tab. Type Contacts as the Field name and enter the contacts name in the Condition field.

Use Outlook's Advanced Find dialog to replace Activities

Using the Contacts field in a Group by View

While not as useful as the Activities pane or Advanced Find, if you only need to view items within a single folder, a custom view that groups by the Contact field may be useful.

When in a single line view, right click on the row of field names and choose Field Chooser. Find the “Contact” field and drag it to the row of field names. You can group by this field or sort by it.

Use a Group by Contact view

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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