Manage Task List in Microsoft Word: Embedding Emails from Outlook

For the last few years, I have been using Microsoft Outlook for managing tasks. The main problem that I have been experiencing is with flagging emails as tasks. For some reason, the newly created task isn't always staying in my task list. It usually appears at first, but I need to wait for around 30 to 40 seconds to make sure the task doesn't disappear. I am not sure what causes the issue, but quite a few of my tasks disappear on me. When it happens, I need to reflag the email as a task. Since I am having trouble figuring out why the flag disappears, I spent the last year or so experimenting with Microsoft Word to manage tasks.


I primarily use the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook when creating and managing tasks. I won't be going into much detail for this post. However, I wrote a series of posts describing my process starting with "Manage Tasks in Outlook: Categorizing Tasks".

The reason I originally chose Outlook for managing tasks is that the majority of those tasks originate from email. Some emails were sent by me to other people. Others were sent from other people to me. For emails I want to track, I have been flagging them as tasks.

The problem I have been experiencing is that flagged emails don't always stay flagged. It doesn't seem to matter which flagging technique I use. The little follow-up flag (see Figure 1) just removes itself (see Figure 2). It doesn't happen all the time. However, it has happened enough for me to lose confidence in the solution.

Outlook screenshot shows the follow-up flag appears initially
Figure 1. Follow-up flag appears initially
Outlook screenshot shows the follow-up flag removes itself
Figure 2. Flag missing after several seconds

Note that the screenshots and directions used for this current post are based on Outlook 2016 and Word 2016 for Windows 10.

Embedding Emails in Word

Microsoft Word may not be the best choice for managing tasks. However, I decided to try the solution after figuring out that email messages can be embedded into the body of the document. Having the email in the document allows me to keep the task descriptions short.

Basically, my task entries (see Figure 3) consist of the date the task was created, a quick title describing the task, maybe some sub-tasks, and the embedded email(s).

Word screenshot shows an example task entry
Figure 3. Basic task entry

The easiest way to embed emails from the desktop version of Microsoft Outlook into Word is to

  • Start both Outlook and Word (note that it helps if both applications are visible on the screen)
  • Open a new (or existing) Word document where the embedded email should go
  • In Outlook, click and hold the email you want to embed into the Word document
  • Drag the email from Outlook into the Word document (see Figure 4)
Screenshot showing how to drag an Outlook email to Word
Figure 4. Drag Outlook email to Word document

The .msg file, with an envelop icon, should now appear in the document (see Figure 5). Double clicking the envelope opens the message allowing you to see the original request.

Word screenshot shows the embedded email icon
Figure 5. Embedded email message


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