Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Creating calendar entries using email

An email inbox isn’t the right place to keep track of your meetings, events and social gatherings. Don’t believe me? Try it sometime and see if you don’t lose your calendar invitations among the – what – hundreds? Thousands? of other emails sitting in there too. The consequences? Missing a client meeting, double-booking yourself for said meeting and a child’s recital… the list goes on. (To regular readers of my blog – sorry for the redundancy in this intro from last week’s post, but it sounds right for both posts.)

Most computers offer at least one place to keep track of events, and you should use it. For the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about Outlook and iCal on the Mac, but they’re far from the only games in town.

The beauty of these two tools, though, is that they let you quickly create a calendar entry using the email that necessitates the entry in the first place. And when you no longer need the email? You can get rid of it – file it or delete it – so one less message clutters your inbox.

from Microsoft Outlook 2007 (Windows)

Drag the email into your calendar. A window appears that lets you create a calendar appointment, and includes the contents of the email.

from Microsoft Outlook 2011 (Mac)

Office 2011 for Mac offers the Meeting button in the Ribbon. If you click the Meeting button while an email you want to use to create a meeting is active, Outlook puts the content of said email in the meeting and includes the sender and other recipients as attendees.

from Mac Mail

In the email itself, move the mouse pointer over a the date or time proposed for an appointment. A menu (a data detector) should appear over the date or time. Click the menu and choose Create New iCal Event.

Check out this video starting from the 1:10 mark to see what data detectors look like.

Extra tips

  • Once you’ve created the event from Mac Mail, you can use the same data detector to check the event in iCal.
  • Select all the text in the email before creating the event and Mac Mail will put the entire text in the note for the calendar entry. This makes it easier to add things like meeting agendas to calendar entries, and makes it easier to find them using Spotlight.
  • In many calendar applications, you can add meeting attendees in calendar events. Doing so causes the application to email invitations to people you’ll attend the event with, and the invitations (when they work properly – a topic for another blog post) let invitees RSVP.