I’ve pinned the new “Calendar Peek” to get the “To-Do Bar” back in Outlook 2013 but I’m still missing some functionality here.
The main options that I’m missing are:
- It only shows appointments of the current day
- Dates with appointments are no longer in bold
- I can’t “stretch” the area to show more months (Date Navigators)
Especially the first one is quite annoying. If I have a day with little or no appointments, I always found it quite convenient to see upcoming appointments for the next days. Now it just shows a big empty white spot.
Is there any way to change this and get that functionality back?
Sadly, no, the Calendar section of the To-Do Bar has indeed been “dumbed down” to that in Outlook 2013.
Showing bolded dates and multiple months
No matter how much white space there is left in the To-Do Bar or how wide you make it, the Date Navigator will only display 1 month.
To browse through the months, you’ll need to use the arrow buttons next to the name of the month (there are no keyboard shortcuts for this). Even the ability to click on the name of the month to skip up to 3 months back or forth is no longer there.
The bolded dates and the ability to stretch the Date Navigator area are still available but only on the left side in the Calendar Navigation itself (CTRL+2). You’ll find that clicking on the month will also still work there.
When there are no appointments for the current day, the white space won’t be filled with upcoming appointments like in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010. It will simply state: You have nothing scheduled today.
There is no option to reinstate this either and you’ll need to click on a specific date to see if there is anything scheduled.
Set realistic Reminders
One way to better deal with upcoming appointments is to set realistic reminders. Most people usually leave the default reminder of 15 minutes before the appointment takes place.
To be fair, even with the Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010 implementation of the To-Do Bar, you would then leave it up to chance (how much space there is left) whether or not you see any upcoming appointments.
If you really need a reminder beforehand, you simply need to set this reminder on the appointment itself. Once the reminder pops up, you can snooze it for a specific amount of time or then set it to remind you 15 minutes beforehand.
Outlook Today revival?
These changes and limitations of the To-Do Bar might actually also be a reason to use Outlook Today again. Outlook Today allows you to view appointments up to 7 days ahead.
Although Outlook Today hasn’t been changed for quite a few versions now, its default design fits in quite nicely with Outlook 2013′s new/retro look.
If you are not familiar with Outlook Today, you’ll find it when you click on the name of your default mailbox (also known as the “mailbox root” or ”top level folder”).
Enjoy it while it lasts though; Outlook Today is a deprecated feature and could be removed in a future version of Outlook.
Will it change in a future update or Service Pack?
With change comes resistance and the lack of options/choice doesn’t help either. There is a quite vocal thread about this in the Office 2013 Preview forum on TechNet.
With enough feedback and the current change of strategy of Microsoft to also provide new features and more drastic feature changes during the lifespan of a product version, it is not unlikely that the current implementation will see some changes.
Seeing how Windows Phone 7 has developed with new releases and also the planned feature updates for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, the future Service Packs for Office 2013 might also contain more than just performance, bug and security fixes.
Is it all bad?
Granted, the Calendar section of the To-Do Bar mainly got feature cuts. Proper use of other features of Outlook will work for some but might not compensate it completely for others.
Bolded dates might help when you only have a few appointments but it is meaningless for when you always have a fully booked Calendar; it will just show all dates with a bold font.
Relying on available white space to get reminded for upcoming appointments is questionable as well, but showing white space is at least just as questionable.
One change I personally like, is that you can now click on a date in the Date Navigator to see what is scheduled on that day without needing to switch to the Calendar itself. Especially with dates further in the future or when you don’t want to leave the Mail Navigation, this is a nice change. Double clicking on a date will still take you to that date in your Calendar folder.