I’m a heavy user of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Tasks especially.  One major frustration I have with the redesigned Office 2007 productivity suite is that Outlook Tasks now have a default due date of “TODAY”.   So how do you change the default?

Unless you open a full task form, you can’t set a due date and Microsoft, by way of being helpful, adds the default due date of  “Today” for you.  Previous versions defaulted to “None” as the due date.   Walking back through the long form for each individual task just to set the due date is painful and awkward.  Worse, the due date isn’t visible in the “Outlook Today” main page of Outlook, so you can’t detect this until you start getting warnings that tasks are overdue. That set me to seeking a way to change the default due date on Outlook Tasks.

That was a nasty shock the first time I encountered it–right after porting over my list of more than 60 tasks from my planner and hand scribbled notes from my last meeting.   If you are like me, you really don’t like being rushed.  Having Microsoft force all your tasks to “Today” is really not good for your blood pressure, especially when it does it secretly when you aren’t looking.

Isn’t that why you create lists in the first place?  Lists let you tell yourself that everything is under control, right?   If you are a Franklin-Covey user, you know that not every task needs a due date, especially those Quadrant 3 and 4 tasks that are unimportant and may not even have a deadline.  I just need to see what needs to get done in a simple list–a reminder of what needs to get done  and the priority/order of when to do them.   To me, a due date is somewhat redundant.

My method for task management is to create a list of everything I can think of that I need to do, add anything that comes up later and leave due dates and priorities until after I have put the list together and am confident I have recorded everything I can think of.   Stopping to assign individual due dates blocks the data entry flow into Outlook and causes me to forget the list I had in my head.  As everyone knows, it’s always the one item you forgot that comes back to bite you later.

So, I set upon my Holy Quest, to change the default due date on Outlook 2007 Tasks.  After nearly two months of searching on and off for a solution, I stumbled upon a page at Microsoft’s site.  Now, I’m going to share that solution (and the Microsoft Web page address) with you.

Here’s how to change that pesky “Today” default due date in Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Create a NEW task
  2. The task will appear in your list of tasks
  3. Right click on the “Flag” next to the task
  4. Select “Set Quick Pick”
  5. Change the “Set Quick Click” dialog box’s drop-down to “None”
  6. Click OK

Now all Outlook 2007 tasks you create from now on will no longer be forced to be due Today.

<sarcasm> Clearly, ignoring the Tools > Options menu where Microsoft has always placed it’s program options, and changing this default program setting in a new task is the *obvious* way to change a program-wide default, right? Completely “intuitive”.</sarcasm>

Here is the URL to the Microsoft Instruction.  You can’t find it unless you use “Quick Click Flag” in a search at Google. Microsoft’s site turned up zilch when I searched any combination of the words Outlook, tasks and “due date”.


Now that I’ve fixed that, I can finally start using my Task list again in Outlook.

Quest completed.

8 Responses to Outlook 2007: Setting the Default Due Date

  • Viper says:

    VERY helpful..!
    Any idea how to change the default reminder time?

  • thebaronn says:

    Brilliant, thanks for that, very useful. I take the same approach to task management; capture the tasks first, then prioritise

  • TallandFriendly says:

    Thanks a lot! That was frustrating me too! : )

  • Rickard says:

    I googled “outlook 2007 new task default due date” and found this page – thank you!

  • Jeff says:

    THANK YOU so much for this solution. Fortunately, your instructions do surface when you google “outlook 2007 new task default due date” — you must have been so frustrated when you started your quest and could not find any help from google. Thanks!

  • Rob Digital says:

    Score! I think the problem is that comprehensive options are way too confusing for people who refuse to learn how to use the software. I think those folks should use Macs. Microsoft should probably circumvent confusing idiots by defaulting to the “simpleton” mode, and then allowing access to advanced functions with a “power user” mode.

    Thanks Man, you rock!

  • halfix says:

    Thank you so much for finding and publishing this solution. I’m a heavy user of the task list and after moving to OL2007 having to manually remove the nasty default due date for each task really drove me crazy. You saved my (Outlook-)live.

    • InetDaemon says:

      Microsoft isn’t even adhering to their own interface design specifications of keeping the user interface settings under “Tools > Options” or the View menu.

      Microsoft, take a hint: People are having so much trouble with the new interface that a whole new software market has popped up that changes the Word 2007 interface back into the 2003 interface.

      I do not endorse or advise the purchase or use of this software, nor do I know how well it works, but Addintools is just one of several companies making just such a plugin for Office 2007.