Fixing the Outlook 2010 Task Creation Problem

Feb 9, 2011

I thought I’d blogged about this before, but I guess not. In Outlook 2010, Microsoft introduced a bizarre “feature change” that occurs when you drag-create a task from e-mail. It causes the new task window to disappear. But it is sort of fixable.

Some background. By now you know I recommend that you convert action e-mails that you cannot act on now into Outlook tasks, and then manage them in the MYN tasks system. And the way you do that is to drag the e-mail onto the tasks icon in the lower left of the Outlook screen.

Well, in Outlook 2010, when you do that, the new task often (usually) seems to disappear after you create it, which prevents you from editing the subject, start date, priority, and so on. Well, the task is actually there, it’s just hidden behind the main Outlook window. So if you move the main OL window aside, you’ll see it there. But many do not realize that and sit there scratching their head thinking the drag and drop failed to create the task.

The solution?

Drop the task quickly—release the mouse button very quickly after you get the mouse over the Tasks icon. Don’t linger even a second over that icon before dropping it. If you can do that, the new task window stays in the front.

But what’s going on here? I have not spoken with Microsoft about it, but others say they have, and they say that Microsoft’s support team claims it is a feature. I cannot figure out any scenario where I’d want this to happen; but if you can, let me know. I still think it is a bug.

Here is one clue about what Microsoft was trying to do with this feature change. If you watch as you drag the e-mail, you’ll see that about one second after the mouse crosses onto the Tasks icon, the upper part of the Navigation pane transforms—it displays all the Tasks folders you may have. The advantage here is that, before releasing the mouse button, you can now move the mouse up to that list and choose which Tasks folder you want the converted task to go into. That can be a nice feature in my opinion if you manage multiple Tasks folders. But I still cannot believe they intended the new Tasks window to be hidden after using that feature—I think the new feature is just buggy. And that explains why dropping the e-mail fast solves the problem—it prevents the Navigation pane switcheroo, which is where the bug actually resides.

So again, when dragging e-mails in Outlook 2010 to create tasks, do not allow the mouse to linger over the bottom of the navigation pane before you drop the e-mail item; drop it quickly instead. If you do, all works well.


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16 Responses to Fixing the Outlook 2010 Task Creation Problem

  1. David Barber says:

    Thank you Michael …

  2. I ran into this as well but I stopped using the drag and drop and started using the Quick Steps buttons. I have two; one for task with attachment and the other with task with message. It’s just a single button click and it is ALWAYS on top.

  3. mm says:

    Thank you so much! This was driving me crazy, especially because I couldn’t figure out why the task didn’t *always* disappear. Now I see that the task sometimes stayed on my screen because I must have just happened to drag-and-drop it quickly enough those times.

  4. John Gomo says:

    I have dropped Outlook 2010 because of this.
    I now use Ical and Omnifocus.
    This has been disappointing for me as my work methods had to change.
    I agree with Michael in that Microsoft has some questions to answer about this

  5. Joel Gibbons says:

    I use the method John A. Curry mentioned. Quick Steps are available in just about every dialog box ribbon, so it is an easy way to quickly convert emails to tasks.

  6. Tom Lane says:

    Thanks for this.
    Same thing happens when dragging an email to Contacts. MS has done it again!! 🙂

    Love the quick steps idea

    These snippets are one reason I love this newsletter.

  7. Julio Gutierrez says:

    Hello Michael,

    Maybe a bit off-topic as que question is not Outlook2010 related, but it does relate to email drag&drop for task creation.

    Is there any way to change the default task folder in which tasks are created for Outlook 2003 and 2007?

    Here’s the scenario:
    I have a team of 4 people in my IT dept. Everyday, one of them is responsible for support. We have a dedicated mailbox for that, that all 4 can see, but it’s the support guy’s responsibility to leave that particular inbox empty and everything solved.

    Now, in order to use the MYN system for the support stuff I’d need that they could drag support emails and convert as tasks when required, but in the support mbox tasks folder. I’ve tried several ways but they always pop up in the personal mbox tasks folder.

    Any ideas?

    Many thanks,


  8. Michael Linenberger says:

    There’s no way to change what folder is the default task folder for when you drop on the main task banner button or on the main task icon (both at the bottom of the Navigation Pane). But to solve your problem you can drag the email and drop on other task icons—so share the support tasks folder and instruct your staff to drag to it. Once shared, how do you see that tasks icon in 2003, 2007 or 2010? Use the Folder List view described at the top of pg 25 in the Outlook book 3rd Ed. In Outlook 2010 you can also hover over the default tasks banner button or icon for a second or two, and that opens a list of available task folders at the top left, then drop the email on the tasks folder you want (as described at the bottom of the post above).
    At least I am pretty sure you can do that with shared task folders. You can certainly do it with other task folders you own, so I think it should work with shared ones too (let me know if not).

  9. Stienie Shelver says:

    Hi Michael, I bought your book Total Workday Control using MS Outlook on Thursday. This is Friday and my whole Outlook is looking completely different and my Inbox is almost empty! I have read and tried many many systems, but this is really awesome! I actually cannot wait to start work on Monday!!! I have just one problem, I have tried and tried, but it doesn’t matter what method I use if I try to copy a mail mess to task folder it doesn’t copy the attachments with it! I tried to use Quick Steps, but that doesn’t give me the option to move to the task folder! In a workaround I am currently copying to Task folder and then while the task is open I drag the mail mess onto it!

    I would really appreciate some help on this as my workaround is a bit lengthy!

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Stienie_ see page 151 in the book, it will answer your question I think. The trick described there is to right click and drag and pick second item in pop up menu. Have you tried that?

  10. Stienie Shelver says:

    Hi Michael

    I did, but for some reason I do not get the pop-up! However I managed to create a Quick Step task and that is working great for me! I really like that I can create a task with the mail as attachment and move the original mail to my processed folder in one click!!

    Once again thanks for your great book, I spent the weekend cleaning up my in box, organizing all my tasks & configuring my Outlook and am raring to go tomorrow. I have my own business and for the first time in a long while I feel as if I’m really organised!


  11. John Irwin says:

    Any more comments or ideas on how to fix this?

    Now it’s the end of June and things went …well I can hear the crickets!

    Is there another thread that we can pick up on?

    Spent a whole long time on this and thought that Outlook 2010 was broken, etc.

    John Irwin

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Hi John
      Outlook IS broken on this point–just no fix provided. Maybe the next version of Outlook will fix the bug. For now I’ve punted and just created a Quick Step to create task from an email. Two Quick Steps actually, one for with attachment and one without.

  12. Brian says:

    Hi Michael –

    Love your book. Question: I never use my mouse – i’m a keyboard shortcut guy because it’s faster. The only exception is dragging the emails to the task bar to create “copy here as task with attachment” – which is a pain. Is there a macro or keyboard shortcut that could accomplish the same thing?


  13. Caroline says:

    Dear Michael,

    I cannot thank you enough for all your fantastic ideas on how to organize myself and to be able to do so with Outlook is an extra big plus.

    I bought your book Total Workday Control using MS Outlook and am slowly implementing it in between my rather full workday. You are so right about what a relief it is to have an empty inbox. I like others above got rather stuck on this point with my tasks disappearing. As always your response is so comprehensive.

    I rave about your methods to all my colleagues. Thanks again.


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