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What’s New with Microsoft To Do?

Microsoft continues to improve MS To-Do, the app they purchased from Wunderlist in June 2015. While you can get MS To Do as a free stand-alone product, integrations with MS Planner, MS Teams and expanded integrations with MS Outlook/Exchange in the MS 365 suite mean that you have more intelligent suggestions for what should go on your daily task list. Make sure you are running at least version 2.49 before October 31st to avoid issues synchronizing across your devices.

About To Do

To Do is a task list tool that shares data across the MS 365 ecosystem. It can be used both as an individual task management application and for group task management. Read the March 2020 post from CPM to get an overview of To Do. To Do is available as a desktop application, through the browser, and as an app for iOS and Android. Like the rest of the MS 365 tools, information entered or altered in one place is synchronized.

Artificial Intelligence and Suggested To Dos


To Do tasks from InsightsMicrosoft Viva Your Daily Briefing

If your firm is using MS 365 and the associated Exchange server, you may have noticed a change in the Daily Briefing email. While it is still “surfaced by Cortana” it comes from MS Viva. This daily email briefing suggests that you schedule some “focus time” on your calendar when you have space in your day. It also suggests follow up on emails that it has identified, usually that you told someone you were going to do something. These reminders are driven by artificial intelligence and are usually accurate. In many cases you will have already followed up and you can check the box to show that it is completed (always a good feeling). However, if you do need to follow up click on “Remind Me”. The default reminder is set for the next day, but below the item you will notice a few additional options, including “Edit Task in To Do”. If you click the button it will add the task to your To Do Tasks list and you can add checklists (“add step”), reminders, change the due date, add a category (which mirror your Outlook categories) and review the original email in Outlook.

Insights in MS Outlook

MS Viva is a newer “employee experience” platform in the Microsoft suite, and while manager and leader insights require a license, personal insights are available with an MS 365 license. With that comes the Outlook add-in called Insights. It goes beyond the Daily Briefing and shows you Outstanding Tasks, which you can add to To Do with one click, Prepare for Upcoming Meetings, Follow Up on requests (which can be added to To Do) and more.

Suggestions in To Do

In MS To Do if you look under “My Day” and click on the light bulb icon it will show you suggestion like those unearthed by the Daily Briefing and Insights. It also suggests emails that you have flagged for follow up. Scan the list of suggestions and click on the “Plus” sign to add an item to My Day. Or check the circle to indicate the item has been accomplished.

To Do automatically shows all messages flagged in MS Outlook in the Flagged Email. The suggestions in Planned come from emails that you have marked for follow up, as well as assignments from Planner and tasks as identified by the artificial intelligence roaming your email.

Suggestions from Planner and Tasks by Planner and To Do

In MS Teams you can add an existing Plan from Planner or create a new one in a Teams channel by adding the tab “Tasks by Planner and To Do”.  You can see anything that has been assigned to you in Planner by looking in “Assigned to Me” in To Do.  You can open the task in Teams to get more detail or you can move the task to “My Day”. Mark it as completed in To Do and it will also mark the item complete in Planner. If your firm makes heavy use of Planner or “Tasks by Planner and To Do” in Teams you can keep up with all the items assigned to you in To Do.

To Do in MS Outlook in the Browser

On the desktop Microsoft Outlook and MS To Do are two separate applications. While Tasks in MS Outlook do share some information with To Do it is clunky. However, MS 365 subscribers also can use MS Outlook in a web browser (Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox). The MS Outlook interface through the browser is different than the software and has some interesting features like “Sweep” (quick rules about how to archive or delete messages), “Pin” (to have an email “stuck” to the top of your inbox), a “search for folder” option in Move to, and many more.

In Outlook in the browser, in addition to toggling to your contacts and calendar, you can also see all document attachment to emails in Outlook, and view/search for attachments in your inbox, sent items, and folders.

You can view To Do from within Outlook in the browser. Unlike clicking on contacts, calendar, or attachments, if you click on the To Do icon (a check mark) you may find it difficult to get back to your Inbox without clicking the “back” button a lot. For that reason, you may want to left (alternate) click and open To Do in a new tab in the browser.

In Outlook in the browser the Calendar has a Board view. Unlike a Kanban board for project/task management, the Board view will let you see your tasks from To Do, multiple calendars, notes, goals, files, collections, and many other things. You can save email to a Board (click on the “more” ellipses in an email message). It is a place to gather information from around the different Microsoft products in one view.

If you open you calendar in the Board view and click “Add to Board” and show your Tasks List, your To Do tasks will appear next to your calendar. You can drag and drop items from your To Do list to your calendar. Make sure to toggle the “Lock Items” on at the top to make this easier.

To Do App on Your Smartphone

By installing the To Do app for Android or iOS you can, of course, review your tasks, add new ones, and mark them complete. The feature parity between the app on your phone and the installed version is remarkable, as you can do most everything you can do on the desktop on the app.Share to To Do tasks in Smartphone App

If you have the MS Outlook app on your smartphone you can create a task for To-Do from an email. You can simply flag it for follow up to have it appear in your To Do Flagged list. Or open an email and click the vertical ellipses at the top right and choose “Create Task” from the drop-down menu.

You can also share websites to To Do and turn it into a task. For instance, if you are reviewing your feed in LinkedIn and see a post you need to follow up on, click the vertical ellipses at the top right of the post and click “Share via”.  Because you have the To Do app installed, one of the options you will see is “Add New Task”.  You can edit the task to create a due date, add it to My Day, set a reminder and other options.


Microsoft To Do has come a long way. It can be a little confusing given the multiple ways you can add tasks and access the product. However, pick what makes sense in your workflow. If you need help staying on top of your tasks, whether from your email, Teams, Planner, perusing the web, or just adding a task To Do may be just the thing to help. Don’t forget – make sure you are running at least version 2.49 before October 31st to avoid issues synchronizing across your devices.