26 Amazing Microsoft To Do Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

Not everyone loves to be organized. But it’s the key to being successful.

Most of us forget small things such as groceries, paying the internet bill, or that important interview. Some of us even miss the office team meetings.

Thankfully. the Microsoft To Do app can help you organize your tasks and activities.

Microsoft To Do is a newly offered app inside the Office 365 suite of tools. Everyone with the latest Office 365 will have access to this app.

A few years ago, Microsoft acquired the company that developed Wunderlist. This was an app helping users manage their productivity.

After the takeover, the original Wunderlist app was discontinued, and Microsoft launched a new enhanced productivity tracker under the name To Do.

This article is full of the top tips and tricks you need to know to get the most out of Microsoft To Do. You will love these for sure!

How to Get Microsoft To Do

Microsoft is known for making products that are easily accessible anywhere, and the To Do app lives up to that expectation.

You can access this app from any platform. Be it your windows laptop, your web browser, Android Mobile Phone, IOS device, or through the Microsoft Teams app.

Let’s see how to get it through these different sources one by one.

Get Microsoft To Do in the Web Browser

You can access the Microsoft To Do application online through any web browser (Chrome, Edge, Firefox) and any operating system as well (Windows, IOS, Android).

Open the browser and type “Microsoft to do” in the search bar. Click on The first link that pops up to access the application.

Alternatively, you can also use the direct web link https://todo.microsoft.com/ to get to the app.

Once you click on the link, it will navigate you to the app’s web interface, and you can start managing your day by clicking on the Get Started button.

Get Microsoft To Do As a Windows App

Alternatively, if you work on a windows laptop with Office 365, you will have this app preinstalled.

You have to go to the Search menu from the Taskbar pane (Usually placed at the bottom of your laptop) and then type To Do or Microsoft To Do in it.

The app will pop up, and then you can click on the Open button to launch the application inside your windows laptop.

If the app isn’t installed on your device, you can get it from the Microsoft Store.

Get Microsoft To Do as a Mobile App

As with all popular Microsoft applications, the To Do app can also be accessible through Android and iOS mobile devices.

Firstly go to the Play Store or App Store from your Android or iOS device, respectively, and search for the term Microsoft To Do through the search menu.

Here is the direct link to Microsoft To Do on the Google Play store, and here is the direct link to Microsoft To Do on the Apple app store.

Then click on the Install button. The app will be downloaded and installed on your mobile device. Once that’s done, you need to sign in with the office 365 credentials.

Get Microsoft To Do in the Teams App

Interestingly, Microsoft has integrated the app with Teams as well.

At some point in time, the Teams app asks you to convert a few things into a To Do task so that even if you forget those, the system keeps you reminded. It is a nice feature, frankly speaking. To access the To Do app through Microsoft teams –

Open the Microsoft Teams app.

On any given chat, below the chatbox where you type your message, click on the three dots that specify the Messaging Extensions.

There are various apps available inside the Messaging Extensions. Choose and Open the Tasks by Planner and To Do app.

Create a To Do Task

There are various ways of creating a task in Microsoft To Do. In this section, we will discuss a few of those.

Create a To Do Task from Outlook Highlight Text

Coming soon.

Create a To Do Task from Outlook with Drag and Drop

What if you have to create an actionable task in Outlook? Microsoft Outlook has the feature to create a To Do task built-in.

  1. Create a New Email and add the text for the task. You might want to set a To Do list for yourself to send documents to HR tomorrow.
  2. Select the entire text and drag it down to the Tasks menu placed at the bottom left corner of the Outlook Inbox section.

As soon as you drag the text into the Tasks menu, it will automatically create a To Do the task for you in Outlook with the selected text.

It will open up in a new window, and all you have to do is set the Start Date, Due date, Status, Priority, Reminder, and Reminder Time.

See the screenshot above where I added the details mentioned above with the Subject as well.

Hit the Ctrl + S button to save this To Do task.

Now, if you click on the Tasks menu, you will see a new To Do task is there under the subject line Document Submission. You can double-click on it to open and edit if needed.

Create a To Do Task from Outlook Flagged Message

As a working professional, receiving at least 100 emails a day is not uncommon.

Most of those you will just read and move on and some of those you will delete, but some you might need to take some action on.

In such cases, you might open up the To Do list and manually add those tasks to your list so that you won’t forget them.

What if I say that there is an easy way to do this?

You don’t need to create tasks manually inside the To Do app. All you need to do is flag those critical emails and they will automatically pop up as a task in your To Do list.

To create a task through Outlook, you will first need to enable the Flagged email option inside the web version of the To Do app.

  1. Open the Microsoft To Do through any browser of your choice such as Chrome.
  2. Through the List menu (three horizontal lines icon on left), click on the Flagged email option.
  3. On the main screen, you will see an option asking you to create a task from flagged messages. Click on the Create button to add it to the app.

Once you create a rule for flagged messages, you are good to go with the To Do app installed.

The Flagged email rule will show up inside the List menu, as shown in the screenshot above.

Now, add any mail as flagged, and it will pop up as a task inside the Microsoft To Do app under the Flagged email section.

Create a To Do Task from Cortana

Recent developments have allowed Microsoft To Do to be synced through the Cortana app irrespective of what device you are using.

This integration requires the system to run on Windows 10 Insider preview build 18267 or higher. You also need to be in either one of the regions Australia, UK, US, and India with English as a preferred language.

Open the Cortana app and type create a list through its chatbox. You can also opt for voice instructions if you prefer. In that case, you need to speak create a list as soon as the app activates the voice command.

The app will identify your commands as it is connected to office 365 and eventually To Do.

It will ask you to name the list you want to create. Name the list as List Created Through Cortana for easy identification. You are free to rename it to anything of your choice.

Cortana will ask you to write the details about the task.

As seen in the screenshot above, you can create any task such as Meeting with Barber at noon today.

You can see there is an option to Edit in To Do at the end of the list. If you click on that, you will be able to edit the task through the Microsoft To Do app.

Inside the Microsoft To Do app, you will see a new list category named Created Through Cortana, and it will allow you to access all the tasks or lists created through the Cortana app.

Create a To Do Task from SwiftKey (a Microsoft Owned Keyboard for Android Devices)

A new integration between the Microsoft ecosystem and the SwiftKey keyboard, which is a Microsoft-owned product for Android devices, makes it possible for you to create a To Do task through your mobile device’s keyboard.

Launch the SwiftKey keyboard, and you will see the check-mark icon associated with Microsoft To Do. Click on it to add a task.

Then you are able to add a task through the keyboard. Once done, click on the Add button to add this as a task in To Do.

You will see a notification that the task is now saved, and you can access it. You have to click on the Open To Do button to access the task created. This action will launch the Microsoft To Do mobile application if you have it installed.

Inside the To Do Andriod application, you will be able to see the recently created task.

Interestingly, this integration also works across the windows app, and you will see the same task through Microsoft To Do windows app on your laptop.

Create a To Do Task from Microsoft Teams

It is also possible to create a task from Microsoft Teams.

It is a blessing in disguise for the working professional as you will usually tend to get a lot of tasks, and managing those through Teams saves a lot of time.

Launch the app through Teams by clicking the Open button.

Once the app is open, add the task details under the Task title. Give the Source for the task, this is a team name within which the task should be populated. Add the Due date, and click on the check icon to create the task.

That’s all it takes to create a task through the Teams app.

Create a Step or SubTask

There are a few situations when you want to create a subtask within the original task.

For example, if you are creating a task for paying bills, you might need a way to add a subtask to pay mobile bills, broadband bills, credit card bills, etc.

The subtask functionality from Microsft To Do allows you to group tasks within a list.

You can create a core task and then add subtasks within it. This way, you don’t need to create multiple tasks for similar work.

You can merge them within the same parent task or category.

Suppose you have a list named Tasks To Do within the app. inside that list, you will see the option to Add a task at the bottom of the window. Click on it to add the parent task, in this example, it will be named Pay Bills.

Pro Tip: You can always create a list of your choice by clicking on the New list button placed at the bottom left inside the List menu in Microsoft To Do application.

The best thing with tasks is that you can always add steps inside the To Do app.

Click on the task name to add a new step or subtask to the Pay Bills parent task. A new pane containing details about the task will open on the right.

There you can see the Add step button. Click on it and you can create as many steps or subtasks as you want.

Once you hit the Add step button, it will ask you to add a step with a name.

There is also a radio button preceding the step names. Those can be really helpful as clicking on those will mark the step as complete.

Create a List of Tasks

Throughout the day, you might be required to create a list that consists of multiple tasks that are due today, and it is a simple thing to do when you have Microsoft To Do.

Click on the New list button at the bottom of the List menu to create a new list. Rename that list as My Day.

Inside the list, you will see the Add a task button. Click on it to add tasks to the My Day list.

Set Due Dates and Reminders

Adding more power to the capabilities of the Microsoft To Do, you can also set due dates and reminders to the tasks created within the app.

It will keep your day and tasks on track by reminding you what tasks are to be done as the due dates approach.

Everything you add due dates to goes under the Planned pane from the List menu and can be set due for the current day, next day, or any other date beyond.

Follow the steps below to add due dates to the tasks.

  1. Click on the task name to open the details pane with all available options associated with the task.
  2. Select the Add due date option. It will allow you to set up a due date of Today, Tomorrow, Next Week, or you can Pick a date for any other date of your choice.
  3. Click Tomorrow to add tomorrow’s due date to this task. However, you are free to select any date of your choice.

Next, you may want to add a reminder for the task.

  1. Click on the task name to access the task details.
  2. There is a Remind me option to add a reminder associated with your task.
  3. You can choose a date and time of Later today, Tomorrow, Next Week, or you have the option to Pick a date & time of your choice. Click on that option and set the date for 12:00 midnight today to wish your friend a happy birthday.

This will add a reminder for this task.

Repeat a Task on Schedule

You might want to repeat some tasks every now and then in your schedule.

You might want to repeat a task every Friday, or at the start of every week, or even every day. The possibilities are limitless with Microsoft To Do.

  1. Select the task to repeat.
  2. Add due date to make this task due for a specific day so that it can be repeated.
  3. With due date added, click on the Repeat option to add a Daily, Weedays, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly, or a Custom repeat for this task. Choose anyone of the available options.

It will set the task on repeat every period on the same day as you have set the due date.

Add a Hashtag to a Task

One of the lesser-known features of the To Do app is its ability to allow the hashtags within a task created. Adding a hashtag can save a lot of work for you.

  • If you have multiple lists with a common hashtag, you can find all of those by searching the hashtag.
  • You could add another level to your task organization based on what the hashtag is used.
  • You could add a hashtag based system to add prioritization to the tasks created.

For example, if my work-related tasks are spanned across multiple lists, I can add a hashtag #mywork that will segregate them throughout those lists.

Whenever I search for #mywork, I will get all those tasks consisting of that hashtag.

While creating a task, add a pound key and text after that to add a hashtag to the task.

Where you add the hashtag in a task is up to you. Most of the time, I prefer to add the hashtag at the end of the task name. However, it can be added anywhere and you can also use multiple tags in a single task.

Add an Attachment to a Task

Another great option within Microsoft To Do is to add an attachment.

You can add a text, image, or pdf file as an attachment within a task. Sometimes, a supporting document is good to have with your work tasks.

To add an attachment to the task, select the task and go to the details pane and click on the Add file menu.

Selecting the Add file menu will then open up the File Explorer, and you can navigate to the path or folder where the supporting file is stored. Select the file to add it as an attachment to your task.

Add a Note to the Task

When initially creating a task, you might tend to keep the title short. However, you might want to add some more details information to the task.

Maybe you wish to add a description of the topics to be discussed during an office meeting, or you may want to add a specific purchasing instruction for groceries.

You can add a note to the task that can allow you to add extra useful or essential information about the task.

Inside the To-Do app, an option named Add note is accessible through the details pane when you click on the task. You can use this option to add your task details.

Click on that Add note box and type the information about the task as a note.

Set a Theme in To Do

You have options to set multiple color themes inside Microsoft To Do for an extra bit of customization.

Follow the steps below to set themes in To Do.

  1. In Microsoft To Do app, select the My Day list.
  2. You will see three horizontal dots representing the List options in the upper right corner. Click on it to access the options associated with the list My Day.
  3. A new window with List options will open up. Under the Theme section you will see multiple color themes arranged in tiles.
  4. You can click on anyone of your choice and that theme will be applied to the app.

Enable Dark Mode Theme

Similar to the other windows apps, the dark theme is now also available under the Microsoft To Do app.

The dark mode usually will be helpful in the evening or night time when you are working. It will help reduce fatigue in your eyes due to the bright white light.

There is another option to sync the mode to your default window mode. If your system is in dark mode, the app will be in the same mode. The app will also be in light mode if your system is in light mode.

To Set the dark mode on in your Microsoft To Do app, open it and head towards the settings by clicking on the user info round badge placed in the upper left corner. Then click on the Settings menu.

Within the app, the new settings window will open up. Scroll down towards the Theme menu and click on the radio button associated with the Dark theme option to apply the dark theme on the app.

Pro Tip: If you want to align the theme of the app to the Windows theme, click on the Use my Windows theme radio button. If you are using a scheduled switch between light and dark theme for your Windows environment (usually scheduled as a light theme before sunset and a dark theme after sunset), the same will be applied to the app.

Mark a Task as Important

You might want to mark some tasks as important as they might be the first priority over others.

You have an option to mark a task important within To Do. This option will set the task into the Blue category and then will also move the task to an Important list.

Create a regular task using the Add task button. After the task is created, you will see the star icon on the right of the task. Click on that star to add your task to the Important category.

Share a To Do List

You might want to create a To Do list that is shared between you and other people such as your colleagues or friends.

It is pretty simple.

There is the Share list options button at the upper right side of the To Do app. Click on that button to proceed further with sharing.

Once you click on the button, the Share List window will open.

Click on the Create Invitation link button to create a link, and then there are two options to share. You can either Invite via email or Copy the link and share it with anyone.

Assign Tasks in a Shared List

After you share a list you might need to assign tasks from the shared list. You can assign tasks through the app to people with whom you shared the list or to yourself as well.

Select the task to access the details pane. You will see the Assign to option placed below the Repeat option. Click on it to open up a new window with available users sharing the list.

Click on any of the users to assign the current task to them. Remember, you can assign the task to yourself as well.

Another way of assigning a task in a shared list is by adding the @ symbol while creating a new task. Once you type @, the system will show people sharing this list and you can assign the task to any one of them.

Create a Group of Lists

A recently added feature in Microsoft To Do is the ability to group the lists.

This feature keeps your navigation menu compact by grouping multiple lists of the same category.

You can create a group by clicking on the Create a new group button placed beside the New list button at the bottom left corner of the navigation menu. Then rename the group with a meaningful name.

Once you create a group with a meaningful name, you can now move lists within the area below the group name by dragging and dropping.

This will add those lists into the group created. If you click on the group name dropdown, you will see all grouped lists. Click again to hide the lists in the group.

View Tasks Assigned to You

Managing all the tasks you are expected to complete might be challenging when you are in many shared lists. However, the Assigned to me list option can be added in the To Do app to keep track of all such tasks you are responsible for.

This feature can allow you to work on grouped as well as individual tasks at the same time.

By default, the Assigned to me list is not active in the Microsoft To Do Windows or Android app. You have to activate it through the Settings menu.

Click on your name in Windows To Do app to open up the options. Click on the Settings option to access those.

In the Settings window go to the Smart lists section and enable the Assigned to me option by clicking on the toggle to the right.

Enabling the option will add the Assigned to me list view into the navigation pane, and you can see all the tasks assigned to you there.

View Taks with a Due Date

You have seen how we can add due dates and reminders to the tasks assigned. However, it also makes sense to have a list that includes all those tasks with due dates.

The Microsoft To Do has a separate list named Planned to view all those tasks with due dates.

Like the tasks list assigned to me, the Planned task list can also be enabled through the Smart lists section in the To Do Settings.

Once the Planned list is enabled through settings, you will be able to see it in the navigation menu. The tasks will usually be grouped on weeks that start on Tuesday and end on Saturday.

View Completed Tasks

While working on the tasks or to do lists, it is essential to keep track of the completed tasks.

The process of enabling the Completed list is the same as previous smart lists. You need to go to the Settings and enable the Completed list through the Smart lists option.

Once enabled, the Completed list will appear in the navigation menu, and all the completed tasks will appear here with a strikethrough.

View the Next Week in Microsoft To Do

The best part of the Microsoft To Do app is that it allows you to assign tasks for next week as well. You can view the following week’s tasks through the Planned list.

Click on the Planned list to see all the tasks scheduled for the next few days. You will see next week’s tasks grouped together.

Email and Print List

If you cannot see the Email a List and Print a List option for your To Do lists, you are probably on an app version below 2.4.23042.0.

Update the app to this version or above, and you will see the option to print your lists, or you can email them to another user as well.

There might come situations when you are going on a business trip and have limited access to your system, mobiles, etc. In such cases, printing the To Do list makes sense.

You will then have the tasks in hard copy even if you have no access to your laptop or mobile.

Print the List

  1. Select any of the lists you want to print and click on the three horizontal dots in the upper-right corner, representing the List options.
  2. Click on the Print list option from the menu.

The print window will appear once you click on the Print list option.

  1. The Printer drop down asks for a specific printer name. Interestingly, you can also save this print preview as a pdf file.
  2. The second option is for allowing the access to the app itself to change the printing preferences set by you. You can keep it off if you want to keep your preferences as default.
  3. The third option is for Orientation. You can keep the page in portrait or a landscape mode while printing.
  4. Turn on the Print Steps option if you would like to include all the subtasks in the printing.
  5. Turn on the Print Notes option to print all notes associated with the list.
  6. You have option to choose the Paper Size. Though it is better to go with the default system selection, you can choose between Letter, A4, A3, A5, etc.
  7. If you are happy with the settings you changed, hit the Print button or else there is a link to More settings. Hit that.

Email the List

If you noticed, there is an option named Email list placed exactly below the Print list option.

This option will allow you to send the entire tasklist through by email to your colleagues.

Once you hit the Email list option, it will open up the Email App interface with the list integrated inside the email body. Add the recipient details and hit the Send button to email this task list.

Keyboard Shortcuts in Microsoft To Do

For the Microsoft To Do app, the following are useful keyboard shortcuts.

  • Ctrl + N: Allows you to add a new task in the To Do app.
  • Ctrl + L: Allows you to create a new list.
  • Ctrl + T: Allows you to add a task to My Day.
  • Ctrl + D: Allows you to mark a task as completed.
  • Ctrl + F: Allows you to search anything within To Do.
  • Ctrl + R: Allows you to sync To Do.
  • Ctrl + V: Paste values from the clipboard.
  • Ctrl + 1: Allows you to open the sidebar menu.

Most of these shortcuts will also hold on a web browser version of To Do except a few as mentioned below.

  • Ctrl + Shift + N: Allows you to create a new list in the web app.
  • Ctrl + A: Select all tasks from the web app.
  • Ctrl + Backspace: Deletes a selected task or the selected list.

Manage Your Day

The Microsoft To Do application has a cool feature where you can manage your entire day at a glance.

The My Day feature allows you to manage all your daily tasks at a glance through a single list.

Initially, when you open Microsoft To Do, the My Day will pop-up allowing you to look through your entire day at a glance. It will cover all the tasks that you have moved to My Day and are due today.

Similar to any other list, you can add a task to My Day through Add a task button placed below. if you click on any task available under My Day, it will open up the Detail pane where you have many options.

  • Add a step or a subtask.
  • Add the given task to My Day.
  • Add a reminder.
  • Add a Due date.
  • Repeat the current task on daily, weekly, weekdays, monthly, etc.
  • Add an attachment.
  • Add a note.

Suggestions for My Day

Microsoft is known for its heavily trained AI algorithms that allow them to enhance the user experience. The Suggestions option through My Day in Microsoft To Do is one such example.

You need to fill in details in My Day at the start. However, if you click on the bulb icon placed at the upper right corner, the app will add suggestions to My Day.

Those are tasks that are due today or in the next few coming days. These tasks can be part of any other list. You can add those suggested tasks one by one to My Day by clicking on the Plus icon placed next to each task.

However, there is another way of adding tasks to My Day. You will see the tasks due for the current day and hence grouped under Today. There is a More options menu beside indicated by the three dots.

If you click on the three dots, you can see a list of options you can apply in bulk on the entire tasklist under Today.

Select the Add to My Day option to add all the tasks from the Today list to My Day. You can also do it by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + T.

Note 1: The Suggestions feature under My Day is in its early days and is only available for users who chose English as their primary language. It is still in development for other languages.

Note 2: The Suggestions feature doesn’t include tasks planned or assigned through Planner. it could have been a great asset with their inclusion.

Advanced To Do Settings

Apart from the usual settings where we enable different lists through the Smart lists option, Microsoft To Do has a few advanced settings as well. These can be accessed through the app or the web version.

  • You can enable an option to Add new tasks on the top every time.
  • You can also enable option named Move starred task to top.
  • Play completion sound option you can enable.
  • You can even manage to enable the app to auto start when Windows starts.

These are a few options that fall under the advanced settings.

Besides, you can turn on and off the Notifications for Reminders, and Shared lists activity to customize your app experience.

To access all these advanced settings, click on the name badge from the top left corner and click on the Settings button.

Add App Badge Notifications for Windows App

If you are too busy to look into Microsoft To Do app on your Windows laptop, you can activate the App Badge Notifications as those will show up a number of pending tasks for you based on different parameters you set.

If activated, you will see a number on the app icon that gives you an idea about the following.

  1. How many tasks are Added to My Day and not completed.
  2. How many tasks are Due today and overdue for the day.

To activate the App Badge Notifications, open the Settings through the To Do app by clicking on your name badge present in the upper-left corner.

Inside the General section, there is the App Badge Notification dropdown.

Select the appropriate option from the two listed above. You can now see the number of notifications through your app icon.

Windows Live Tiles

Live tiles in Windows 10 can be used to show your last lists.

To enable this feature in Microsoft To Do, search for the app and right-click on it. Click on the Pin to Start. This will add a To Do tile with a list of tasks from My Day by default.

Note: You can also change the size of the Windows Live Tile. Right-click on the tile and then hit Resize in the menu. You will see four options namely Small, Medium, Wide, and Large. Each one will resize the tile accordingly.

Conclusions

Microsoft has managed to build a great and well-integrated task list application that allows you to manage your daily tasks.

You can add tasks to your day or any other day of the week, month, year, or any calendar date.

Share tasks with others and distribute the ownership of the tasks.

Prioritize the tasks based on the different flags so that the highest priority task can be done first.

Manage access to the shared tasks and collaborate with specific team members.

It is a feature-rich platform that can help you be more productive.

Those are the top tips and tricks for getting the most out of Microsoft To Do. Do you have a favorite tip? Do you know any others? Let me know in the comments below! 😉

About the Author

Lalit Salunkhe

Lalit Salunkhe

Lalit is a data analyst with diverse skills and experience in data mining and analysis. He has a M.Sc. in Statistics from one of the top institutes in Maharashtra.

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