Recently many Outlook users have experienced the Todoist Outlook Add-in detaching from their Outlook application. I personally experienced this on both my ho. In a matter of minutes and without a single line of code, Zapier allows you to automatically send info between Microsoft Outlook and Todoist. Get started with workflows like: Add new Microsoft Outlook events to Todoist as tasks. Or check out the rest of our guided workflows.
Todoist is a great multi-platform task manager, and it provides facilities to integrate with many other tools including e-mail apps. Email integration is typically via forwarding your e-email to a todoist inbox email. This, however, sends the actual content of the email to Todoist, which might not be desirable all the time. In this post, we integrate Outlook with Todoist (or any other tool, actually) by creating links back to Outlook e-mails.
I use Outlook for my work email, and Todoist for managing my tasks. However, every time an email results in creating a task in Todoist, I struggle finding a way to refer back to the original email. I want to do this for many reasons. Sometimes the details of the task is defined in the email, sometimes I have reference documents attached to the email, or I just need to reply back to the email when I am done with the task. Sending emails directly to Todoist is not an option for me, as my workplace policies doesn’t allow that. So, what do I do now?
After some googling around, I noticed that it is possible to interact with Outlook using Mac Automation Scripting. What I want to have is some capability to copy link to an outlook message and use it in Todoist. So, I decided to give it a go…
Before we dive into the scripting details, let’s clarify what I am trying to achieve here. I would like to be able to copy links to selected Outlook emails to clipboard, and then paste them to Todoist or any other app. The links will be something in the form of
outlook://<message id>. And I want to be able to click on the links and jump back to the Outlook message.
Let’s move to the scripting details…
Mac Automation Scripting
Script Editor application provides a very basic IDE for editing scripts. There is built-in documentation on the available libraries via
File > Open Dictionay.. menu on
Script Editor application.
First script: Getting selected Outlook messages
Now that we have some understanding of how Automation scripting works, it is time to get our hands dirty. Let’s first try to get some information on a selected message in Outlook.
The above script shows the subject of the selected message as a notification. You can copy and try this script in
Script Editor. You can also try this with ob-applescript.el if you live in Org Mode.
Copying the link to selected message with a shortcut
Now that we know how to get selected messages, we need to create a link to that message.
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As you can see above, in addition to just creating a URI for the selected message, we now have some error handling and user interaction built into the script to make it more user-friendly.
To try the script, just run in it
Script Editor as usual. When you select a message in Outlook and then run the script, it will copy the URI to the system clipboard ready to paste into Todoist (or wherever else you might want to).
Opening outlook links: a custom protocol handler
Now that we are able to copy links to outlook messages, we need a way to handle those links to go back to the Outlook message. The way to do this, is to develop a custom protocol handler. This way our newly introduced
outlook://<message id> urls will be recognized by macOS.
In order to implement a custom protocol handler with AppleScript, we simply implement an
open location handler as follows.
Then we need to turn this into an
app package and edit its
Info.plist to define our new URL scheme. Basically we need to go through the following steps:
Save the script as an
Script Editor. (
Save.. > Format: Application)
Finderand locate the saved file. Right click and select
Show Package Contents.
Info.plistwith your favorite text editor, and add the following content before the last two lines.
Save the file. Go back to your
appand double click to execute it.
Now we are basically done. If you want to see it working, copy an Outlook message link and paste it to Todoist. Then, you should be able to just click on the link and get back to your e-mail in Outlook. You can use this link in many other places, including the command line (just run
open <your outlook link>).
Putting it all together
At this point, we have script that can copy links to Outlook to clipboard, so that we can paste the link to another application. And we can also click on that link (in most apps, including Todoist) to get back to Outlook. We are almost done, but not quite yet. Copying the links is very tedious…
We need to go to Outlook to select a message, and then open our script in
Script Editor and run it to copy links to clipboard. This process is not efficient at all. Let’s see what we can do to make this more streamlined.
We have a few options here. One option is to use
Automator app to define a service with our script, and then add a keyboard shortcut to our new service. For me this didn’t work reliably unfortunately.
Another option is enabling system-wide script menu. Just go to
Script Editor app, and select
Script Editor > Preferences menu, and enable
Show Script menu in menu bar. This gives you a way to run your scripts by just clicking on the menubar icon for scripts and select your script. In order to make this work, though, we need to save our script to
~/Library/Script folder. After doing this, you can see your script in the menu.
Todoist Outlook 365
If you are like me, and still think that a keyboard shortcut would do better. You can use a more powerful script launcher like Fast Scripts.
Now we have a neat and basic way to integrate Outlook with Todoist, or actually we have a way to link to Outlook messages, and this can be used to integrate Outlook with other applications.
Todoist Outlook Ios
I uploaded the script and ready to use macOS application to github. If you don’t want to replicate the process you can get the app and script from this link.