How do I configure views in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007’s To-Do Bar using either menu commands or the registry?

Q: How do I configure views in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007’s To-Do Bar using either menu commands or the registry?

A: The To-Do Bar is a new feature in Outlook 2007. It adds a pane on the right side of the UI that provides quick access to the calendar, appointments, and tasks. Using the To-Do Bar can reduce the number of times you need to change views. You can access the Do-To Bar without having to leave the current view whether it’s Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Journal, or RSS Feeds.

The To-Do Bar is enabled by default, but you can disable and hide it by choosing View, To-Do Bar, Off or by clicking the X in the top right corner of the To-Do Bar. These configuration options only disable the To-Do Bar for the current view. You can quickly restore the To-Do Bar by pressing Alt+F2 or by selecting Normal in the View, To-Do Bar menu. Alt+F2 cycles through the three view options for the To-Do Bar: Normal, Minimized, and Off. The menu in Outlook 2007 suggests that Alt+F2 sets the To-Do Bar view only to Off.

Disabling the To-Do Bar in any view changes the DWORD value in the registry. This value is found at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Options\ToDoBar\DisableToDoBar. A hexadecimal value of 0x80000000 is present when the To-Do Bar is enabled for all views. Disabling the To-Do Bar just for the Mail view changes this value to 0x80000001, and disabling it just for the Calendar changes the value to 0x80000002. There is a registry value for each combination of the different views with the To-Do Bar enabled or disabled. When the To-Do Bar is enabled, it is either set to Normal or Minimized view. This value is toggled through another DWORD value at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Options\ToDoBar\MiniToDoBarMode. A decimal value of 1 represents the minimized view of the To-Do Bar, while a value of 0 shows the To-Do Bar in Normal mode (the default). Table 1 shows some DWORD values for disabling selected To-Do Bar views.

The To-Do Bar is divided into three sections, as shown in Figure 1. The top section shows the Date Navigator, which is represented by small monthly calendars. The middle section lists Appointments. The bottom section displays a Task List. Each of these sections is configurable to some extent. The sections can be toggled on or off and the number of entries in each section can be customized. In the UI, the user can manipulate these values by clicking View, To-Do Bar. If you select Normal in the menu, the default To-Do Bar is shown. If you select Minimized from the menu, it collapses the To-Do Bar to a narrow column on the right side of the UI, as shown in Figure 1. If you select Off, the To-Do Bar is removed from the view completely. Then in the same menu, each of the three data types shown in the To-Do Bar can be toggled on or off.

To configure the presentation of the sections of the To-Do Bar, select Options from the View, To-Do Bar menu, which opens the configuration screen shown in Figure 2. If the sections are enabled in the menu, then their presentation can be customized from this screen.

You can also configure these settings by making a few registry edits. You can find the To-Do Bar views in the same Registry folder used for enabling or disabling the To-Do Bar. Exporting the entire registry key to a .reg file produces the following:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

\[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\
Options\ToDoBar\]
"ToDoBarWidth"=dword:000000ce
"MiniToDoBarMode"=dword:00000000
"NumDateNavigators"=dword:00000002
"DisableToDoBar"=dword:80000000
"NumAppointments"=dword:00000004
"ShowTaskList"=dword:00000001


The numerical values in NumDateNavigators and NumAppointments directly reflect the numbers shown in Figure 2. The positive toggle value of 00000001 shows the Task List in the UI. If the Task List is enabled, then its content can be filtered based on user preference. Clicking the top bar of the Task List within the To-Do Bar, which by default reads Arranged By: Due Date, returns a drop-down menu of filtered options, which are shown in Figure 3. You can select which tasks will appear in the To-Do Bar by selecting Custom and then selecting the granular properties for a filter.

An Exchange administrator can centrally deploy and manage many To-Do Bar options. You can use the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to standardize To-Do Bar settings for Office 2007 deployment. Figure 4 shows the options available for creating a corporate default for the To-Do Bar. Group Policy Object (GPO) settings are also available mirroring the options found in the OCT. Finally, because these settings change registry entries, custom .reg files can be used in logon scripts or pushed out with Systems Management Server (SMS) or other deployment applications.

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