How to follow up emails in the Outlook mail app?

December 10, 2020 |

greater than 6 minutes

Emails remain the primary form of communication for many businesses and individuals, and Microsoft offers one of the best email clients out there – Outlook. Normally, you send and receive dozens of emails every day, and keeping track of the most important ones can be tricky. That’s where Outlook’s “Follow Up” option comes in. You might not be aware of this feature, but it’s useful when you want to monitor those emails that require a response from you or your recipient(s).

The “Follow Up” option in Outlook is designed to help you keep track of important emails that you don’t want to get lost among the hundreds of other emails. In today’s Windows 10 tutorial, we explain how to use the Follow Up option in Outlook on your Windows 10 device. The option is built into Outlook and reminds you about a particular email on a specified date and then adds the email to your Outlook task list.

How Does the Follow Up Feature Work?

You see, there could be several reasons why a certain email went unanswered – maybe the email wasn’t delivered, it landed in the Junk mail folder, the recipient was out of office, or the recipient (or you) simply forgot to reply. Regardless of the reason, instead of going through all the emails to find the ones that weren’t replied to (which can be a difficult task), you can use the “Follow Up” feature.

Once set up, it automatically monitors emails that require a reply, and if it isn’t received on time, “Follow Up” triggers a follow-up email message, notifying the recipient that a reply is expected. When you use the “Follow Up” feature, a red flag appears next to the selected email.

In Outlook, you can set up “Follow Up” flags for

  • you (to remind yourself to respond to a particular message by a specific date) or
  • your recipient (to remind them to respond to a certain email by a specific date).

Moreover, you can create an Outlook rule that will automatically add a flag to important messages, such as emails from your manager, client or business lead.

How to Create Follow-Up Emails for Already Sent Email Messages in Outlook for Windows 10

Usually, the “Follow Up” alert is added when composing a new email in Outlook. Once you’ve finished creating your message, select the “Follow Up” option and choose one of the options from the drop-down list (more details below). If you select “Custom”, you’ll have more options to choose from, including whether to set the reminder for you or your recipient.

If you want to follow up on an email that you’ve already sent, choose the email and then follow the steps below:

  1. Head over to “Home” and click “Follow Up”, which is located in the “Tags” group.
  2. The drop-down list shows several options that allow you to select a date on which you want to follow up on your email. These include “Today”, “Tomorrow”, and “This Week”. In addition to that, you can customize the date by clicking the “Custom” option.
  3. Once you choose a date, the email is highlighted in yellow to make it easier for you to identify the marked message. This operation also adds the email to your tasks list on the right pane.
  4. The marked email will have a red flag next to it, and you can check the follow-up details by simply opening the email. You can move the email to another folder that you prefer, such as Archives, or you can create a new folder and name it “Follow Up”.
  5. By default, Outlook is designed to remind you about the email on the due date. However, you can also choose the exact date of the reminder. To do this, select “Home”, click the “Follow Up” drop-down menu and select “Add Reminder…”.
  6. On the “Custom” screen that appears, you can customize the option according to your preferences. The “Custom” panel can also be accessed by clicking the “Custom” option in the “Follow Up” drop-down list. By default, the “Flag to” option is set to “Follow Up”, but you can choose a different name or type your own. This is the information that will be displayed at the top of the message along with the “Start date” and “Due date” values that you’ve selected.

By default, Outlook uses the “Due date” value to show the email in your task list. This means that you have to set a due date, even if it’s the same as the start date. Likewise, the alert noise is set by default, but you can choose a different one. Remember to check the “Reminder” box to get an alert on the specified date.

  1. Once you’re satisfied with the changes, click “OK” to save them and exit the “Custom” window.

If you use “Follow Up” frequently, you would want to do this quickly without repeating the entire process over and over again. Outlook allows you to configure the “Quick Action” menu and add the buttons that you use the most. This way, you can simply hover your mouse over an email and quickly choose an action. You can choose from the following options:

  • Delete (which is enabled by default)
  • Archive
  • Flag/Clear Flag (the Follow Up flag)
  • Move
  • Mark as Read/Unread

To edit the Quick Action menu, follow these steps:

  1. Select “Home”, click the “Follow Up” drop-down list and select the “Set Quick Actions…” option.
  2. From the “Quick Actions” pane, you’ll see two “Quick Action” slots where you can choose your preferred buttons. In this case, select “Flag/Clear Flag” as one of the options.
  3. Once you’re done, click “OK”.

By default, when you click the “Flag” button, Outlook marks the selected email as “Today”. Here is how to change this:

  1. Go to Home > Follow Up and click the “Set Quick Click…” option.
  2. This action opens a drop-down list where you can select a different default date. Click “OK” once you’re done.

Now, the next time you hover your mouse over an email and select the “Follow Up” flag from the “Quick Click” options, Outlook will automatically set the date that you specified. You can use this feature to flag multiple emails simultaneously with a single click.

Once you’re done following up on an email, you can remove it from the task list in Outlook. To do this, right-click on the email and select

  • “Mark Complete” (to delete the email from the list) or
  • “Clear Flag” (if you simply want to remove the flag next to the email).

The “Follow Up” feature works well with Microsoft and Exchange accounts. Unfortunately, those with Outlook IMAP accounts may not be so lucky as this option might not work. However, there’s a workaround to get “Follow Up” to work with your IMAP account:

  1. Open Outlook and select the email for which you want to use “Follow Up”.
  2. Right-click it, click on “Move to” and select either “Other Folder” or “Copy to Folder”.
  3. On the “Move the selected items to:” pop-up window, find “Tasks”.

This simple tweak allows you to add “Follow Up” to your email.

Now that you’ve learned how to add “Follow Up” in Outlook, how do you like the new experience? Please share your views with our community via the comments section below.

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