Friday, August 1, 2003

How to search for all overdue items


By Diane Poremsky

A reader writes:

"I like the new OL 2003 interface but I am still trying to figure out how to create a search for ALL overdue items. Usually these would have been flagged to be due by date."

I have to agree. I like the new interface, too. You can see a sample screenshot in Figure A.


Here's a sample image of the new interface, provided to us by Microsoft. We'll have lots more to show you in future issues. (click for larger image)

If you haven't had a chance to try Outlook 2003, take the time to check it out. Outlook 2003 should be released to manufacturing soon and trial versions should be available soon after. The official release date is expected to be mid-September or so. Visit to get your own copy of the beta.

Back to the problem at hand: how to search for all overdue items. Our reader doesn't mention what kinds of overdue items he's looking for, so I'll assume he means overdue tasks, not items flagged for reminders. While he mentions Outlook 2003, the following technique works with all versions of Outlook.

Search folders work with mail folders only, for tasks you need to use advanced find:

  • Open the Advanced Find dialog. It's located in Tools, Find, Advanced Find.
  • Select the type of Outlook item you're searching for and browse for the folders to search in.
  • On the Advanced tab select Field, Frequently Used Fields, and Due By.
  • Set the condition to "on or before".
  • Set the value to "today" (type it in without quotes) and add to list.

This finds all task that were due before today, even those that are completed. Now we ned to restrict the search to only overdue tasks.

  • From the All tasks fields, select Complete.
  • Set the condition to "equals".
  • Set the value to "No" and add to list.

You'll now find all tasks due on or before today that are not completed.

Some things to keep in mind

If you know the name, you don't need to use the Field picker menus to select the fields. Since I've told you the field names, you can type them in the Field text box.

Search folder, Advanced Find, Filtered Views, Automatic Formatting all use the same search dialog. Once you learn how to write good criteria, you can use the knowledge to create better searches or views.

Not sure what field to use? Add fields to a view and see if any of the fields contain data you can use in your search.

Seek and thee shall find.