Show Only Tasks in the To-Do List

Last reviewed on February 18, 2015   —  30 comments

If you don’t care for the To-Do folder showing flagged messages and only want to see Tasks, you can create a custom view that hides everything except tasks.

You can use this method on the To-Do Bar’s Task list, however, only one view is supported so you can’t switch between views as you can in other folders. If you want to use different views you need to keep editing this filter or view the To-do list in the Task module, where you can create as many custom views as needed.

Note: You can’t delete the To-Do list folder or set the Tasks folder as default when opening the Tasks module unless you use VBA. See Always use Tasks, not Outlook’s To-Do List for a code sample.

You’ll use the Filter dialog’s Advanced tab, using Message Class, contains, task (or ipm.task) to show only task items.

To hide completed tasks, add Date Completed, does not exist. You can also add Flag Completed date, does not exist although this isn’t necessary since you are hiding all non-task items.

  1. Click on the row of field names
    Customize Menu
  2. Choose Custom… from the bottom of the menu
  3. Click the Filter button
  4. Switch to the Advanced tab
  5. Type Message class in the field, or select it from the Field drop down
  6. Leave ‘contains’ as the Condition
  7. Type task in the Value field. (Or IPM.Task)
    Create a filter
  8. To hide completed items, add Date Completed does not exist to the filter.
    Filter to filter out completed tasks
  9. Click Ok and return to Outlook

Date Filter

To create a filter by date, open the filter dialog and switch to the Advanced tab.

  1. Click the Field drop-down button and select from the Date/Time fields.
  2. Choose the Due date field.
  3. As the Condition, choose “on or before”.
  4. In the Value field, type “3 weeks from now” (without the quotes) or even “now + 3 weeks”

You can also use a formula such as NOW(3*WEEK(()), but many natural language phrases and simple formulas will work just as well and don’t require even basic knowledge of SQL.Filter

Create a filtered task view Video tutorial to show how to create a filter to show only tasks due within the next 30 days. (YouTube)

Filter the To-Do List Tutorial

More Information

  • You can use the same method on the To-Do Bar task list.
  • You can select Message class field from any of the ‘All [item type]’ lists.

About Diane Poremsky

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by

30 responses to “Filter the To-Do List to Show Only Tasks”

  1. Demian

    Thank you! Very useful info.

  2. john

    Not helpful. Unclear as to how to hide to do list in left pane?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can't hide the To-do (or delete it) - but you can use a view to hide flagged messages and only show tasks, so the To-do list operates like the Task list. You can also use VBA so Outlook automatically selects the Task folder instead of the to-do list.

  3. Romanos

    I agree, not useful at all!
    In the left panel, there is "To-Do-List" and "Tasks", which is redundant display!
    So, it would be useful to display either "To-Do-List" or "Tasks", but not both of them at the same time!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      They aren't exactly redundant - to-do list is all flagged items (usually email, but can be contacts or appt) and tasks from all folders in the profile. Task is only tasks in the current folder.

  4. InsurEye - Consumer Insurance Reviews

    Many thanks for the tutorial - it was very helpful! Had to dig through different sites to find a solution and this one is the only one that worked for me!

  5. Milosz

    The real challange is how to show only unflagged messages in the to do list ?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Um... if a message is not flagged, it won't be in the To-do List. :) You can change the Message class condition to note to show only mail, not tasks.

  6. Milosz

    We mark messages as flagged when they are dealt with. (sorry I know it is something completely opposite to what it was intended) What I want to achieve is to make sure that none of the emails that are unflagged is missed. So ideally I would need a separate list of all the messages that are unflagged. It could be separate folder maybe. Not sure if message class would help, never tried.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I mark mine complete (double click on the flag column) when I'm done... but what you want is either a search folder with a filter for messages not flagged or if you only use the inbox, a custom view for the inbox, with the same filter.

      In the Advanced tab of the filter, try Flag status equals unflagged

  7. AYL

    Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for :-)

  8. Jim

    Thank you. While it made much lots easier, the problem is with MS, not your code. The code effectively supplies the view in "To-Do" that I wanted for "Tasks".

    I wish that MS would stop screwing around with things that work (or at least give the users the option of turning off "improvements".

  9. John

    Hi Diane, thanks for the great article! When I flag an email to follow-up on, I change the "Flag to:" field (default is "Follow up" in the custom reminder window to a more specific action to take. This then appears at the top of the email highlighted in blue (MS Office 2007). Is there a way to show this in the To-Do Bar instead of the default subject of the email? You can right click and customize the current view and add other fields, but I haven't found anything for this. I'd rather have a to-do list of specific follow up actions (for emails) than just email subject lines. Thanks for any help!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's the followup flag field. You can remove the subject field and add the Follow Up Flag Field to the view - or you could use macro to copy the follow up flag field in the subject.

  10. Helene

    Hi Diane,
    I just upgraded to Outlook 2013. Wow!
    I keep track of our daily patients in the Task file. They are listed by date of exam. I want to start a whole new task for 2014 patient list with the ability to view by due date, start date, categories. I want them to be under one task vs. listing them individually. How do I do this and anyway to add more categories than what is given?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can create more color categories - click Categorize, then All Categories to create more.

      I'm not quite sure I understand what you need to do with tasks... you have a few choices for filing tasks - create a 2014 task folder for new tasks, move old tasks to a new task folder (assuming you keep old tasks), or use a custom view that only displays tasks created in 2014.

  11. Cam Johnston

    Diane, helpful post, I have a bit of a variation. I am in Outlook 2010, and i have multiple mail boxes I am using and want to have a to-do list tied to each mail box. One box is from an outlook exchange server, another from via the connector and the last is a PST file. I have been unable to filter cleanly. I have tried variations of the "outlook data file", "e-mail Account" etc and all seem to have "bugs" that prevent filtering across multiple mail boxes. Any suggestions on how to accomplish this seemingly simple goal?
    Thanks for your help and I do enjoy your tips

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The to-do list supports multiple mailboxes - you need a view that should just one mailbox at a time. Account should work for email, but doesn't. I'll see if i can figure out what filter you need.

  12. Cam Johnston

    HI Dianne, thanks for responding. Anything you can suggest would be great. I have been trying to solve this off and on for a year now and it seems like there is a bug or glitch with each obvious and semi obvious option.

  13. Rainer Fuchs (@FuchsRainer)

    I've tried the same thing, and it's driving me nuts. I'd like a view that shows me tasks that are incomplete, from a certain data file, and that are tagged with certain categories. I use Filter/Advanced to accomplish this. Filtering for incompleteness and categories works fine. Where all hell breaks loose is once I add the data file filter. Not only doesn't it do what it's supposed to do -- it still shows items from all data files --, it also negates the effect of the filters that worked before! I.e., the list now shows all tasks, complete or not. I checked the SQL, and it's well-formed and correct, so it SHOULD do the job.... In fact, if you apply only a filter for outlook data file, it has zero effect, so this look like a major bug.

  14. T. Tardif

    I am trying to find a list of valid values as I want to play with the filters a little more. Unfortunately I can not find such a list anywhere. Please advise!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I'm not aware of any list, mainly because there are many fields and many values - plus any field that supports "natural language" has an endless list. If there is a specific field you are curious about, i may be able to point you to a page or create a list for you.

  15. Henry S

    I am trying to use the To-Do pane to list only Tasks. If I create a task on the fly and it has no Category, it doesn't show up on the To-Do list. Once I add a category, it shows up. Do you have any ideas about fixing that? Is there a way to set a default category for all new Tasks?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Did you check to see if a filter was set to only show tasks with categories? The only way to set a default category is using a macro or a custom form.

  16. EddiePscetti

    I have multiple mailboxes that are shared in Outlook 2010 along with my own. I would like to show just my tasks without the other mailboxes but haven't been able to find anything on it. Any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      So you want a filter that shows only the tasks in your mailbox? Add Email Account to the filter - on the Advanced tab type or select Email Account from the field list. Use either contains or is exactly and type the display name of your account, as it appears in the folder list.

    2. stanimal21

      I tried your suggestion to add the "Email Account" to the filter, but it removes everything from the To-Do list (I checked spelling and it's all correct). I also tried filtering by the Outlook Data File using the data file name; that shows everything, even completed tasks. What do you suggest? I also posted a question on the Microsoft Answer forums:

    3. Diane Poremsky

      You can't show flagged messages in tasks, you'll need custom views. I'll have to test some things in the morning and see what works. I remember from an earlier discussion, some things that should work correctly had weird results.

  17. lkushi

    Thank you! This did exactly what I needed.

  18. L$

    To whoever's all still having a problem and are trying to eliminate flagged emails from multiple GMail accounts so that only Outlook flags and tasks appear in to-do list: Use field "IMAP Status" and condition "does not exist".

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