Improving Outlook with a custom dashboard

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One of the features of Outlook I have just discovered is the ability to use a custom dashboard page in the Outlook Today screen.

As I’m only running the pants Outlook 2002 at work there was no way of decently viewing tasks, inbox, calendar etc. in a nice format within the program or the supplied Outlook Today styles. That’s where the dashboard comes in.

With the dashboard you can run ActiveX objects to pull in various components into the Today screen, in any order you want as it’s based on a simple HTML file. Below is a screenshot showing my current Today Screen:

The above view is showing the Inbox (left) and Tasks (right) listed together which was (to my knowledge) not possible with the supplied styles.

To add components to the page drop the following code into your HTML template:

<object width="300" height="150" classid="CLSID:0006F063-0000-0000-C000-000000000046"></object>
Written by Katy (317 Posts)

Katy whitton is a self-employed web developer who is constantly looking for the ideal Project Management, Time Management and Task Management set-up. She blogs about tech related news over at http://www.katywhitton.co.uk and tweets nerdy and techie things @KatyWebDev. If you're in the mood for a bit of comedy however, you can check out @katy_whitton or her Awful Cartoons Website at http://www.badlydrawncartoons.com


16 Comments

  1. Nicolas De Kouchkovsky

    “Thanks for posting this great productivity tool.For an unknown reasons, only mail folders get displayed on my PC. Tasks & Calendar are replaced by my inbox.Any idea?”

  2. Anonymous

    “Proxomitron inserts deactivating code to scripts. Bypass Proxomitron’s filters before downloading and set html to read only. Works in Outlook 2003.”

  3. mudflap

    “Hey,
    Thanks for giving this a shot. I have the programming skills of a hamster or I would have given this a try myself.

    I’ve always dreamed of reformatting Outlook. (Can you tell I’m a corporate tool?) I cannot wait to give it a try.”

  4. Eric Mueller

    “Thanks for posting this. I’ve always dreamed of having an Outlook Today screen that is actually useful for something.

    My programming skills are very limited, but I was able to take your code and “”hack”” it. Rather than inbox and tasks in a 50/50 split, I managed to set it to display my email and calendar view which includes my task list in a 30/70 split.

    I may run the file in Frontpage and see if I can add anything else that might be useful on a today screen.”

  5. Flipping Heck!

    “I’m glad you found it useful Eric :)

    One word of warning though, be a bit careful when using FrontPage, in my experience it tries to be a bit “”helpful”” and can remove certain code – such as the ActiveX controls used in the examples – as it doesn’t like it!”

  6. Justin

    “One thing that intrigues me. I downloaded your first page and although it says (and the screen shot shows) tasks and email, what actually is shown in my case is 2 different views of my inbox.

    I ask because I thought it would be possible to show differeing views of the same folder (ie tasks filtered one way, and another way), using e.g

    <param name=””View”” value=””Category – Project G””>

    which would pull up my view ‘Category – Project G’ for tasks.

    which it does… until you pull up tasks in a separate window and change views. then if you refresh the dashboard page it resets it to whatever view you just had tasks set to.

    and, if you have 2 different views in the homepage, both will be set to whatever view you had defined in tasks last – ie, it ignores the instruction to use the view that I gave it.

    ideas?”

  7. Justin

    “sorry, the bit that says ‘eg’ above didn’t show because it had an html tag

    here it is without the tag

    param name=””Folder”” value=””Tasks””

    param name=””View”” value=””Category – Project G”””

  8. Katy

    “I think you’d have to specify it something like:

    param name=””folder”” value=””Tasks Category – Project G””

    Although I haven’t used outlook for ages so I may be wrong!”

  9. Justin

    “unfortunately not, I took the format from your dashboards and there is definitely a different line saying ‘View'; unfortanately it doesn’t seem to work for me (if I download your dashboard I actually see something different from what you present and what the code says it should be showiing; ie I see 2 (different) views of my inbox instead of one showing Tasks. very strange.”

  10. Katy

    “If you don’t specify a task category/sub folder do the tasks display correctly then?

    I think the “”view”” parameter is there to allow you to filter the results i.e. by category, date due etc. as opposed to filtering to show only certain categories.”

  11. Justin

    “‘Task Category – Project G’ is the name of the view.”

  12. Katy

    “Have you tried changing:

    param name=””Folder”” value=””Tasks””
    param name=””View”” value=””Category – Project G””

    to

    param name=””Folder”” value=””Tasks Project G””
    param name=””View”” value=””Category””

    Also, although I’m guessing here, perhaps it’s got an issue with the space in “”Project G”” – but as I said that’s a guess.”

  13. Justin

    “it doesn’t show anything. the name of the folder is Tasks, not Tasks Project G, so I wouldn’t expect it to. and the name of the view is Category – Project G, not Category

    it is not the space, it brings up exactly the right view. My question was really, how to show 2 different views of the same folder.

    anyway, thanks for your help”

  14. Katy

    “Ah, sorry, I understand now – sorry I was being a bit thick!

    As far as I know, you can only have one instance of each item on the dashboard – at least I seem to remember either trying it or reading it somewhere”

Comments are closed.