It’s never been a better time to use Outlook Tasks, thanks to Microsoft’s increased investment in its task management apps. Outlook Tasks is an extremely versatile solution for managing lists, reminders, and your daily schedule when combined with Microsoft To-Do, Cortana, and OneNote – with one minor flaw.
The “Start Date” and “Due Date” fields in Outlook tasks allow you to specify when you expect to work on a task. In theory, your task won’t be relevant until the Start Date arrives, so it shouldn’t be bothering you in Outlook.
Unfortunately, Outlook usually ignores the Start Date, so tasks that are due in the future will remain visible, cluttering your list and making it difficult to see what needs to be done right away. Fixing this isn’t easy, but it’s possible thanks to Outlook’s advanced view filtering features.
Before we begin, keep in mind that you’ll have to repeat the steps below for each Outlook task view you want to use it with. The Outlook To-Do Bar, To-Do Peek, and individual task folders, for example, are all distinct task views that can be filtered separately. As a result, applying this behavior to every view is a waste of time.
How to hide Outlook tasks with a future Start Date
To begin, create a task with a future Start Date so you have something to work with. The task should appear right away, which isn’t very helpful because it’s not yet actionable.
In the menu that appears, right-click the To-Do Bar (or the background of the view you’re working with) and select “View Settings.” Click “Filter…” in the popup window that appears, then select the “Advanced” tab in the resulting Filter popup.
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At least one default filter should already be present. This filter is responsible for enacting Outlook’s default behavior of hiding completed tasks, as indicated by its logic, so we won’t be touching it. Instead, we’ll use the inputs below the table to create new filters.
Begin by selecting “Field” from the dropdown menu and selecting “All Task Fields” > “Start Date” from the menu that appears. The “Start Date” property will now have a filter applied to it. Select “on or before” from the “Condition” dropdown, and then type “Today” (without the quotes) in the “Value” input box. Finally, press the “Add to List” button.
When you click “OK” in both of the open popup windows, the task view should be filtered to show only items with a start date. Although this may well solve your specific use case, there is one more issue you should address.
This filter currently also hides any tasks without a start date, which isn’t ideal. Return to the Filter window as described above to fix this. Add a new filter to the “Start Date” property, this time with the condition “does not exist” and the value empty.
When you apply the filters, the task view should now display tasks with a start date, as well as any tasks that do not have a start date.
Whether or not this change will benefit you is determined by your task management workflow. You might want all of your tasks to be visible at all times, regardless of when they’re supposed to be completed. Outlook’s default behavior will suffice in this situation. To reduce cognitive load in more complex workflows with multiple open tasks, it’s important to hide tasks that can’t be completed yet. Setting this up in Outlook isn’t difficult, despite the fact that it’s not immediately obvious.
Finally, these changes only apply to the Outlook desktop app; other Outlook Tasks experiences, such as Microsoft To-Do, do not support task filtering in this way. The Start Date property (along with all other Outlook fields) is available on all Outlook tasks, regardless of how they were created.
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