Creating To Do Items for Email Messages

September 5th, 2013 by

Automator_IconDuring the OS X Lion days, there was a subtle difference in how To Do items would be handled compared to how they were handled before, and how they are handled now. In Lion, To Do items started appearing in Mail.app. This created some confusion (see here and here) since the two UIs would behave subtly differently. All of this is gone again since Mountain Lion, as To Do items have disappeared from Mail.app since.

There is however one aspect that I missed about Lion: it was possible to just highlight some text in an email, and hit the “To Do” button, fix a deadline and you’re done creating a To Do item that would be linked to the email message. So for full details, you could just click on “show in email” in the To Do item, and it would open the email message for you. Unfortunately this convenience feature disappeared together with Lion.

So I have set down for an afternoon, and made an automator workflow that provides a system service to do just that: highlight some text in an email, right click it, and choose “ToDo for Email” from the Services menu. It will let you edit the text, choose a ToDo list, and finally open the To Do item in Reminders.app so you can fix a due date or location. It will auto insert a link to the original email message to give you the “show in mail” link.

To install, just download the ToDo for Email workflow, unzip it, and double click it. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please feel free to drop us a note. If you like it, please tweet about it.