How to remove Flags from email Tasks in Outlook 2007 and 2010

Microsoft Outlook 2007 and 2010 automatically adds a flagged email to your ‘To Do List’ in your Tasks folder. This includes old email items (including archived) from Outlook 2003 when you upgraded. How do you get rid of these legacy flagged email tasks without deleting the original emails? How do you bulk remove your flagged email To Dos without deleting the associated email when you start our email and workload management process?

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You cannot just delete flagged email To Dos because if you do you will  delete the original emails and they might have some value to you!

Here’s what to do.

A)     First of all you have to see all your Flagged emails. They are in your ‘To-Do List’ in your Task folder as opposed to your ‘Task’ list in that folder. Don’t worry about the difference between the 2 lists – if you use our process you will never need to go back into your ‘To Do List’ anyway.

  1. Because you want to see all tasking elements in your Task folder you need to go to your Task folder by clicking on the ‘Task folder icon’ shortcut in your navigation pane as opposed to your ‘Task’ folder in your ‘Folder List View’ of your navigation pane.
  2. In your Task folder click on the ‘To Do List’ subfolder. Amaze yourself that you still have a career despite all those un-actioned, overdue, long-forgotten flagged emails!
  3. If you have not done so in my training, engage the ‘Group By’ functionality for your To- Do List and drag the ‘Follow Up Flag’ column into the Group By area.

B)      You can now clear these old flagged mail To Dos as follows:

  1. Use Shift or Ctrl to highlight the appropriate email To Dos.
  2. Right-Click within a highlighted To Do and click on ‘Follow Up’ then select ‘Clear flag and delete Task’
  3. This removes the flag but leaves your original email intact
  4. Click on your ‘Tasks’ view in your Task folder and navigate out of the folder back to your inbox or calendar

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  1. Richard Maybury September 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Sally, thanks for your question.
    Email flagging has limitations when it comes to planning, prioritising and delivering the workloads that our emails demand from us. That’s why I do not advocate the use of Flags as part of a priority workload management system with Outlook.

    The only thing you can do with flagged emails if you want to use them as part of a prioritised workload management system is to either:

    1 Use the Flagged email view in your inbox. Select View > either Flag start date or Flag Due date. your un-actioned/unfiled emails will still be in your inbox and your flagged emails below in date order.
    2 You could use the standard ‘Search Folder’ for follow up mails and use this as your email action / to-do list. Note that you can’t improve on the basic search structure for flagged emails in Outlook (not without script / coding / vba experience anyway)

    Much better, in my view, to run from an empty inbox and integrate the Calendar and Task tools within Outlook to manage how and when you will deal with the emails you currently flag.

    Let me know if you find a work around.

  2. sallybell September 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I enjoy using the flagging system on outlook e-mails, but I want to have them hidden in my inbox so that each day when I come into work all I see in the inbox are the flagged e-mails for that current day and any unread e-mails from that current day appear in my inbox.

    Hope you can help

  3. Richard Maybury September 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Hi Paul, thanks for getting in touch. Are you saying that you are unable to remove the Flag indicator on emails in your archived folder?
    If you go to your ‘Tasks’ folder – viewing your To-Do list – do you see your flagged emails there? If so are you able to highlight all those you wish to remove the flag indicator from? Do this and right-click on the highlighed selection and select the action that is worded somthning like ‘Delete / remove flag ‘ . This will remove the flag to-do item but retain the email in your archive.

  4. Paul Shay September 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    This doesn’t seem to work for archived mail…any ideas?

  5. Richard Maybury September 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Laurel, this approach only removes the flag, you will NOT be deleting the email that the task flag was associated with.

    Obviously if there is still work to do on any particular flagged emails you will need to make that work visible to yourself so that you can apply best practice priority management and result delivery to that particular mail.

    Thanks for dropping by and I hope this helps.

  6. Laurel Mackin September 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Richard, if I do this will I also be deleting the task?? I hate the darned flag but I don’t want my tasks to disappear with it…

  7. Richard Maybury January 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I’m delighted that this has been helpful, Maria. Improving workload and priority management skills in the real world is often about leveraging technology. The great thing about driving some time-honoured principles of time management through better use of Outlook is that the improved Outlook usage helps us maintain the principles and best practice behaviours we already know are important! I have been fortunate enough to train people based in both Sofia and New York.

  8. Maria Williamson January 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you for this, a quite annoying little feature/glitch. All cleared now.

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