If you’re a fan of the Outlook 2007 To-Do Bar, but wish your upcoming appointments and tasks could be shown even when Outlook was minimized, I’ve got great news for you, you can do this today with the Outlook Sidebar Gadgets.
One of the new features introduced in Windows Vista is the Windows Sidebar, an application that allows gadgets—small applications that provide quick access to useful information or commands—to be displayed on your desktop or in the Sidebar.
The Sidebar presented a great opportunity for Outlook to surface the same information that we show in the To-Do Bar. To this end, we developed two Outlook gadgets: Outlook Appointments and Outlook Tasks. These gadgets can be used independently or together to provide at-a-glance information without the need to bring up Outlook.
The calendar gadget shows 3 or 5 of your upcoming appointments just as they would appear in the To-Do Bar. Appointments are colored based on assigned categories and show the title, time, and location. You can even double click an appointment to open the appointment in Outlook and see more details about the appointment, or to respond or otherwise interact with the appointment.
The task gadget shows all the tasks from your task list and lets you scroll up and down through the list. You can customize the view of your task list as well. By default the gadget shows your tasks grouped by due date, however, through the gadget options you can group by category, due date, start date, or importance. You can also select which groups to show, so if you only want to see high priority tasks or those with a particular category you can filter the view accordingly. To edit the gadget options, move your mouse cursor over the gadget, and click on the small wrench icon that appears by the top right corner of the gadget.
The task gadget also lets you interact with your task list. You can quickly add a new task (when Outlook is running). Just click in the gadget, type a task name, and press enter and a new task is created. You can also mark a task complete by checking the box next to the task.
Because the gadgets are always running in the Sidebar, you can quickly see when your next appointment is and what your next tasks are. If you have a higher resolution monitor you can use the Sidebar options to make the Sidebar always on top so your gadgets and Outlook appointments and tasks are always visible. If you have a smaller screen, you can leave the Sidebar with the default setting and when you want to see have you have to do next, use a hotkey (Windows key + Spacebar) to bring the gadgets to the top of all applications
Both gadgets are available on the Windows Live Gadget Gallery, or by clicking the links below:
One other point I forgot to mention: If you change your Office theme, these gadgets will update (next time they refresh) to match the theme. Therefore, if you’d rather see black/gray gadgets instead of blue, just change your Office theme over and the gadgets will update.
Outlook, Microsoft Office, Gadgets, Windows, Desktop, Sidebar, Microsoft
Source:→ MSDN Blog