Outlook Recognizes Simple Date Formulas

Sometimes when you create a new appointment or meeting request, you need to pause to figure out exactly what day the meeting should happen. Additionally, when you create a task, you might struggle with figuring out the actual calendar day that the task should be completed by.

Outlook offers some assistance with this task. The most obvious aid is the drop-down calendar right from the New Appointment form as shown in Figure 1. This is the same for the New Meeting Request and New Task forms. Sometimes you want meetings to occur in a specified number of days or weeks. A less obvious aid in determining a specific meeting date can be found in the date field itself. Outlook recognizes terms we use for calendar units of time—hours, days, weeks, months, and years. If you need to set a task to be due 45 days from tomorrow, you can just enter "Tomorrow + 45" days in the Due Date field (as shown in Figure 2) of the New Task form, and Outlook will perform the simple calculation. Press Tab and Outlook will show the new date.

This field recognizes several different combinations for these formulas. For example, instead of "Tomorrow + 45 days," you can just enter "+ 46 days." A meeting intended for a month from Friday can be entered as "Friday + 1 month." You can easily change the date of a task due in exactly one year by typing "+ 1 year." You can further abbreviate the formula by using the first three letters only to assign a day (e.g., Mon). And you can use the first letter to abbreviate the unit of time. "Friday + 1 month" can be further shortened to "Fri + 1 m."

Using these formulas is sometime easier than trying to count a number of days after a certain date to determine the date you need to enter in Outlook.

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