I know this is not a normal topic for PADT’s blog, but I just updated my Microsoft Flow for converting an email into a task, and it took me a while to find an example of what I wanted to do. So I thought I’d share what I did to get it to work.
Wait, You Need a Microsoft Flow For This?
Yup. In Microsoft Outlook Online you can right-click on an email and make a ToDo task. But there is no way to do that in Outlook desktop or the mobile app, and it doesn’t make a planner task. And I use Microsoft Planner as my task management tool.
The recommended solution to this shortcoming is to use a Microsoft Flow to take any flagged email and make a task. There are a ton of examples for this on the interweb, and this served me well for a long time. The algorithm is:
- Start the Microsoft flow when an email is flagged event
- Get your profile information
- Create a task
- Use the email subject as the task subject
- Put it in a bucket I made called “From Email”
- Assign my Office365 User ID to assign the task to me
But the Just Subject was Not Enough
This worked for me for more than a year. But I was finding that half the time I was working my way through the task list, the email’s subject was not enough to remind me what I needed to do. What I wanted was to capture who it was from and the start of the content. And ideally, a link to the email.
The secret was that you couldn’t just modify a Planner task. You have to give it some time to make its way into the cloud, then modify it. So you add a Delay, then and Update task Details.
Here is my Microsoft flow.
1. Start with a Flagged Email:
2. Get your ID with “Get my Profile”
3. Make the new task with “Create a task”
Use the subject from the email to identify the task. Note that I already made a “From Email” bucket in my primary ToDo Plan. You can also make a plan just for email-based tasks. While I was in there, I also set the start date to the date of the email to let me know when it came in. Last but not least, I use my Azure ID to assign the task to me.
4. Wait for it to get stored with “Delay”
20 Seconds seems fine for me. Add more if it fails on you.
5. Add the info you want with “Update Task Details”
Here is where you can get fancy. Use the ID from the plan. If it doesn’t show up in the dropdown, scroll down on the dropdown and choose “Enter Custom Value” and choose “Id.”
Then fill in the description with stuff you think you will need when you read the task in a few days. I use:
- I start by giving the person’s email address so I know who it is from
- Then a couple of newlines with decodeUriComponent(‘%0A’) functions (Use Expression and enter the string, then click “Update”)
- I then put in the Body Preview. This is the start of your Email that Outlook would show, as text. The Body itself could be HTML and it comes across that way. So use Body Preview
- More newlines
- Then I put in a link to the email in Outlook.
- https://outlook.office365.com/mail/deeplink?ItemID= with Message Id appended
Now, if you want to get fancy, you could save the email message to a file on OneDrive, then put the link to the message in the Reference section. Sounds like a pain, and I’d rather deal with the email in Outlook.
Here is what it looks like on my Plan:
I’ve not tried to share a flow outside of my organization before, but here is a zip file you can try and import:
Use at your own risk, etc…
Still more to Do with this Microsoft Flow
One thing I didn’t find out how to do was add a comment, but I think this description is good enough.
The big problem with this whole approach is when you reply, if you don’t remove the flag first in Outlook, it the Microsoft Flow will make a new task. If I had time, I’d check the list of tasks in this bucket and make sure it’s not a duplicate. But hey, for another day. If you are like me, you could spend hours playing with Microsoft Flows, well beyond their adding any additional value.
While You are Here
I’m not sure how you ended up on PADT’s website, but if you happen to be a mechanical engineer or similar, check us out. We are an Ansys Elite Channel Partner, A Stratasys Diamond Partner, and one of the most respected providers of simulation, design, and 3D Printing services in the US. If any of those words mean something to you, contact us and let us know how we might be able to help. I’ll even flag your email so it shows up as a task in planner.
And if it’s all goblidy gook, that is fine too. I’m glad we might have been able to help you.