New iOS 5 Mail features improve functionality with Outlook for Mac

For the past week I’ve been in geek heaven playing with my new iPhone 4S and iOS 5. Apple claims to have introduced over 200 new features in iOS 5, two of which I’ve found work very well with Outlook for Mac.

Flagging messages

flagFlagging is the act of marking a message to return to it later. I often flag messages that I’ve read but need to follow up later such as completing a request in the message.

Outlook and Entourage for Mac both include flagging but now so does Mail in iOS 5. And flagging messages round trips between iOS 5 and both Exchange and most popular IMAP accounts such as Gmail and MobileMe/iCloud. (Messages from POP accounts can be flagged, however, the flag status will not sync between devices.) That means I can read a message on my iPhone and flag it for later. Then when I’m sitting in front of my computer using Outlook I will see the message as flagged there.

To flag a message in Mail for iOS five:

1. Open a mail message from either an IMAP or Exchange account.
2. Tap the Mark option just to the right of the message date.
3. Tap the Flag button. Mail indicates the message is flagged.

Flagged message

Depending on the type of account and speed of Internet service, Outlook will reflect that the message has been flagged within about a minute. By default, Outlook assigns the current day as the due date. To modify the due date click the Follow Up drop down menu in the ribbon and select one of the predefined options or select Custom Date…

Outlook flagged message

Unflagging a message in either location likewise removes the flag on the other device. Clicking the flag in Outlook once displays a green checkmark, which indicates the followup for the message is complete. This too will remove the flag in Mail for iOS 5.


RemindersThe second new iOS 5 feature is Tasks, which is part of the Reminders app. Outlook supports syncing tasks but only with Exchange accounts. IMAP and POP accounts cannot sync tasks because their protocols are not designed to support this feature.

To create a task in the iOS 5 Reminders app:

1. Click the + (plus) button in the upper right corner and enter the task name. Tap the return button to complete the name.
2. Tap on the newly created task to set a reminder, to set a repeat schedule, to add a priority and to add notes.
3. Tap the Done button to save the changes.

iPhone tasks

Within about a minute the new task will appear in Outlook’sĀ Tasks view.

Outlook task

Marking the task as complete in either location will mark it as complete on the other device as well.

A small caveat

Outlook for Mac has a feature that displays flagged mail messages in the Tasks view. After all, a flagged message is basically a task or to-do item that needs completing. This feature blurs the line between flagged messages and tasks but the two are not the same. Flagged messages are not tasks and iOS 5’s Mail application does not treat them the same. Do not expect that flagging a message in Mail will create a task in Reminders.

If you have comments regarding this new functionality, please feel free to post them below. Otherwise, if you are looking for personal assistance with a problem then click the Support tab at the top of this page for options. We cannot offer personal assistance here.

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9 comments to New iOS 5 Mail features improve functionality with Outlook for Mac

  • David Steinberg

    I like the functionality, but the the caveat you mention is a huge one. I use outlook mail follow ups as “tasks” all the time, and it’s a shame the Reminder app won’t show them. I will have to keep using TaskTask which does all of the above just fine.

  • Ed Puckett

    One other issue, relates to Reminders’ list feature. When you create a new list on your iOS 5 device and then sync to Outlook, the list property doesn’t transfer over. Try this.

    1. Create a new list, say “Personal”.
    2. Create a new task, say “Walk the dog” and assign it to the Personal list.
    3. If you are already synchronizing with Outlook wait a minute. You’ll see that the task is certainly in your Outlook task list, but has no reference to being personal (vs. work) related task.

    Could Apple make the Reminders’ List field map to Outlook’s category field?

    • While in Tasks view look in the Navigation pane on the left and look under your Exchange account. You’ll see that “Personal” appears there as a new “folder”. Likewise, if you select your Exchange account and create a new folder called “My New List” then you’ll see this appear as a new list in Reminders.

      Be careful where you create your lists. You can default them to your Exchange account or iCloud. You’ll want to default them to Exchange.

  • Jarvis

    I agree wholeheartedly. This is just daft. Flagged items are quite obviously something you want to come back to and attention and therefore clearly todo items. I get the whole “not all to do’s are tasks, but all tasks are todo’s” paradox, but reminders should be syncing outlook to dos, not just the tasks.

    Also, my experience has been that marking an email as flagged on ios also doesn’t seem to add it to the “todo” list in outlook, like it would if it were flagged within outlook. I will have annother look at tasktask (I havent looked at it since early version – which I didn’t love).

    (I am a windows user).

  • Anonymous

    I agree. The flagging feature without tying it to reminder/task makes the feature not so useful. I’ll start using it heavily and will help keep me on IOS device when my mail/reminders on iPhone behave same as my mail/tasks in outlook.

  • Hammer

    Small caveat? Like everyone else here – this is a deal killer. Makes the whole thing useless, unfortunately. I use Exchange, and love the compatibility – but this whole feature missing causes the whole thing to be useless. I wish the all amazing Apple people hear the cry of the masses (and not the cult) and tweak the features a bit, would really make the app useful!


  • Scott Bartlett

    I’m a “plus one” for the issue of flagged mail items not appearing in Reminders. A total #fail. It should be there as an option (preferably a toggleable one!).

    So I’m still using TaskTask HD, which does show them šŸ™‚

    Meanwhile, don’t get me started on the fact that Outlook Mac shows flagged items (when enabled) in the main “Tasks” list, and Outlook Windows shows them only in the “To-Do List” (in the main “Tasks” section) and not in the “Tasks” list (which is a section under, er, “Tasks”… wtf??!). The UI is totally inconsistent between them – they are still very much separate programs. šŸ™


  • I searched for this since I’ve installed IOS5. I don’t know why Apple do not think about little things like that. 95% of businesses use Exchange (Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Tasks), why not include them all, like the ActiveSync on Windows Mobile phones?

  • thijsjan meindertsma

    +1 to flagged emails from exchange into iOS Reminders!