How to set todos by email in Microsoft To Do

Microsoft has killed Wunderlist, my all-time favorite todo list app and quite possibly the best app ever to be built. And while I’m still mad at Microsoft (and forever will be), I have to admit that the spiritual successor they have built, called To Do, is actually not half bad by now.

That said, it is missing one of the features I am using most frequently – and that is “Mail to Wunderlist”.

With Mail to Wunderlist you could simply send an email (from the email address connected to your Wunderlist account) to me@wunderlist.com, and hey presto, it would turn up in your Wunderlist as a todo.

I would use this feature several times a day, mainly to send myself follow-up reminders. That one guy from IT that never gets back to any mails? Just BCC me@wunderlist.com in the mail that you send him and set a reminder to follow up in three day’s time.

Alas, Microsoft’s new Todo does not offer that feature. And I’d venture that it never will, because what they are rather going for is a deeper integration into Outlook.

Luckily, there is Zapier. Zapier is a service that is made to “Connect your apps and automate workflows”. This article will show you how to use Zapier to recreate the “Mail to Wunderlist” feature in Microsoft’s To Do. Let’s dive right into it.

Prerequisites

First, if you don’t have them already, go and create your accounts for Gmail, Microsoft ToDo and Zapier (free is fine for what we’re trying to do here). Next, onto configuring each of those services.

Setting up Gmail

Did you know that Gmail ignores everything in the email address after a plus sign? So emails sent to johndoe+anything@gmail.com is equivalent to johndoe@gmail.com and both will be delivered just fine. We’re going to take advantage of this feature. So let’s create a new rule by going to Gmail Settings > Filters and blocked addresses > Create a new filter. There, set the “To” field to youremail+todo@gmail.com, with “youremail” obviously being your actual email adress.

You could also set the From field to the email adresses you want to send todos from, but that’s not necessary.

Next, click on “Create filter” and select “Skip the Inbox” and “Apply the label” and create a new label “Todo”. Click “Create filter” to finish.

 

Setting up Microsoft To Do

Next, head over to Microsoft To Do and create a new list called “By email”. You don’t need this step as you can also user one of your exisiting lists or the “Tasks” special list. But I prefer to have the todos added by email in a separate list so I can sort them in one of my existing lists later.

Now, let’s automate the todo creation.

1. When this happens…

Now for the interesting part. Head over to Zapier and click on the big + sign to create a new “Zap”, i.e., a new automation workflow. After giving a fancy name (e.g., me@wunderlist.com for Microsoft To Do) continue to the first section “1. When this happens …”.

In “Choose App & Event” select Gmail and select “New Email” as the trigger:

Next, select your email account and go through the authentication steps. Under “Customize Email” pick the label you created earlier on. Mine is called “Todos2Todo”.

 

In the next step select “Test & Continue” to make sure everything is working so far.

2. Do this…

In the second section “Do this” pick “Microsoft To-Do” select the action event “Create Task”. Add your To Do account, and go through the authentication process and click “Continue”.

Now you can customize your task to be created. Set the Title to “Subject”. Next, pick your newly created list (or any old list you want to add your tasks to). Then, under Note, add “Body Plain”. The rest I prefer to do in To Do, but you could also set a due date or reminder date here (note that you can set those dates relative to today, so something like Today + 3 days is feasible (more over on Zapier’s blog)).

To finish up, click on “Test & Continue” and finally on “Done Editing”. Make sure not to forget to turn your Zap on, by flicking that switch in the top-right corner (or on the popup).

That’s it! 

 

Now, all you have to do is send an email to youremail+todo@gmail.com, and magically a to do item in Microsoft To Do is created.

One small caveat: Zapier only checks your email account every 15 minutes for new todos.That’s a limitation of the free version of Zapier, which I can live with just fine. I you want to get down to a 2 minute update time, that’s a hefty $49 a month, which is probably something you’d rather want to ask your company to buy.

Just send your IT guys an email – and make sure to set yourself a to do to follow up next week 😉

 

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