Finding back exceptions of a recurring meeting or appointment

I have a recurring appointment scheduled in Outlook for which I update the subject and message body of each occurrence to more accurately describe or report the purpose of that particular occurrence.

Unfortunately, when I do a search, Outlook can’t seem to find any of the text within these exceptions even though it is perfectly capable of finding the recurring item itself or anything else.

How can I do a query to find back any of these exceptions?

Find Exception buttonThis is indeed a bit of a tricky thing to do since a recurring appointment or meeting is only a single item in Outlook and all future occurrences are being calculated from it and any exceptions (which includes a modified subject or message body of an occurrence) are stored within that single item as well.

Unfortunately, these exceptions aren’t being indexed and even Advanced Find and a Filtered View are unable to search within exceptions.

There are some alternative approaches for this but they might not be truly ideal for every situation.

Keeping a log within the recurring item itself

Edit Series buttonWhen you only need to write a few lines of notes, then entering this text in the body portion should work, as long as you do that in the body of the Series and not of the occurrence.

Creating a table within it could make it easier to maintain an overview of all the added notes.

Extra tip:
Use Insert-> Date & Time to insert the current date and/or time into the appointment body to timestamp your log.

Turn the Appointment Series into individual Appointments

Appointment Series to Single items buttonAnother way to go would be to turn all the occurrences of the series into individual appointments and thus making them searchable.

The process below describing how to do it makes it seem a much longer and complex thing to do than it is. In reality, it is quite straightforward and takes only about 2 minutes to complete.

  1. Apply a filter to your Calendar view so that only that recurring appointment is visible. For instance, filtering based on (a combination of) Subject, Location, Body text or Category should give you this result.
    • Outlook 2007 and previous
      View-> Current View-> Customize Current View…-> Filter…
    • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
      tab View-> View Settings…-> Filter…
  2. With the filter applied, export your Calendar to a csv-file. During this process, you can set a begin and end date which matches with the begin and end date or the recurring appointment.
    • Outlook 2007 and previous
      File-> Import and Export…
    • Outlook 2010
      File-> Open-> Import (also contains export options)
    • Outlook 2013
      File-> Open & Export-> Import/Export
  3. Once the export has completed, import the csv-file back into Outlook via the same wizard that you used in step 2. Each occurrence will then be created as an individual appointment item and would no longer be a single series-item.
  4. When you are pleased with the results, you can delete the recurring item so you don’t have any duplicates.

Note: The export process does not include any attachments you may have added to the appointments.

Use OneNote to keep your Appointment notes

Meeting Notes OneNote buttonInstead of using Outlook to keep your notes, you could consider using OneNote instead. It also offers many more note taking tools including creating Outlook Tasks for actionable items within your Notes.

Meeting and appointments items within Outlook can be directly linked to the Notes within OneNote which also creates a link back from within OneNote. This allows you to open the item in Outlook from within OneNote. Everything in OneNote is fully indexed. This even includes, text within pictures, attachments and voice recordings.

OneNote is available free of charge and also has free apps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone and is also accessible from within a browser. You can also easily share these notes afterwards if you want.

When you have OneNote installed, open the occurrence for which you want to add your notes and press on the Meeting Notes button on the Appointment tab. This will automatically crate a link to a note taking page in OneNote which also links back to the Outlook item.

Extra tip: You can choose where to keep these notes in OneNote so that you for instance keep all meeting notes within a single Notebook or Section or keep the notes within a Notebook or Section belonging to the same project.

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