Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

Productivity tip: automatically color appointments in Outlook calendar (conditional formatting)

I did a video/podcast with Modermodemet last week, concerning personal productivity (note: English and Swedish). It was a fun chat that covered your own personal assistant (Jarvis?) to how to manage multiple calendars.

During the conversation, I mentioned two things that seemed to make an impact:

  1. I include travel time in my agenda.
    Especially when you travel to multiple locations, having this time booked means you have a much better chance of not being double booked.
  2. My travel time automatically gets a special color (conditional formatting in Outlook)

This is a very simple example from my calendar:


I am running Outlook 2013 in this example, but I have been using this since Outlook 2007 or so. I know it got a little bit more complicated in Outlook 2010, so here’s an example for configuring appointments with “travel” in the subject to be a specific color.

  1. When viewing the calendar, go to the view tab in the ribbon and click on “View settings”:conditionalformatting2
  2. Click on “Conditional formatting…”
  3. In this dialog, you manage the conditional formatting rules. Click “Add” to create a new rule. In this same screen, add the type and choose the color. Finally, click “Condition…” to configure.
  4. For this example, just fill in “travel” in the subject. The conditions can become far more complex if you want to.
  5. Click “OK” to finalize all changes and return to the calendar view. My travel appointments are now the blue color I configured them to be automatically:

During the discussion, I also mentioned that my partner and I generally don’t share a calendar. For example, if we have a work obligation in the evening, we create an event and label it with either “H: event title” if it is me, or “F: event title” if it is him. Then we invite the other person to it.  In my calendar, anything that starts with “F:” automatically is turned red so I know it is an appointment for my partner. It’s a very similar idea to the conditional formatting for the travel time.


This is such an easy thing to configure and the automatic colors make it so much easier for me to see what’s in my calendar at a glance.

SharePoint social and favorites in Outlook


One of my current clients works with the Outlook addon for copying emails and documents to SharePoint.  I believe it is a neat and useful tool which can complement OneDrive for Business.

I recently got a request to allow users to create favorite libraries/sites on SharePoint and have this list be synced with

Summary does not seem to have a way access SharePoint 2013’s “follow” functionality. This may be possible with registry edits or custom code, but I have not found the solution yet.

However, can sync with the My Links list, which is part of the User Profile Service from SharePoint 2010 and onwards. Libraries can be added to this via the “Connect to Office” button. It is also possible in MOSS 2007.

SharePoint 2013 “follow”

In SharePoint 2013, new “follow” functionality has been added, allowing users to follow People, Documents, Sites, and #Tags. It is then possible to see updates via the newsfeed on your My Site.


The idea was to allow the client to select which sites they would like to follow, then use that information for two purposes:

  1. Display a list of favorite sites on the landing page
  2. Input for the “favorites” in the Outlook client

The first goal turned out to be fairly easy – once I found out that the “Site” content type on the My Site is not actually searchable. There is a premade REST/jQuery soution available via I Am Following which worked beautifully.  The page includes a link to the code download on Codeplex.

The second turned out to be quite a bit harder. I spent a lot of time investigating the Harmonie documentation and tried everything I could find, including using registry edits for site propogation in the favorites. That site propagation turned out to only work for the enterprise client, not the free client and was really more for prepolating the client with specific sites. I was not able to get the registry edit “SyncFavoritesWithMyLinks” working, as described on Add My Links to the sites and favorites lists.

Conclusion: there is currently no good way to sync the followed content on SharePoint 2013 with Harmonie.


My Links

After lots of frustrating, I was rereading the documentation on the Harmonie site and came across the following:

When working with SharePoint 2013/2010, adds the document libraries defined via the SharePoint 2013/2010 ribbon button Connect to Office to your favorites list.

Source: Favorite Locations

My Links is the old bookmarking functionality in SharePoint, used in SharePoint 2007 and 2010. It was replaced by the follow functionality in SharePoint 2013. It requires the User Profile service to be enabled, as it is a per-user list.  Clicking the button adds the current library to My Links.

You can access this, exactly as the documentation states, via the Library tab of document libraries:


This same functionality is used to create shortcuts in Microsoft Office applications for opening and saving documents.

To make this document library be added to the favorites in your client, follow these steps:

  1. Click the “Connect to Office” button in the applicable library
  2. Restart Outlook (the list is checked on application startup)
  3. Find the new list in your favorites in

You can maintain the My Links list by clicking on the dropdown on the Connect to Office button. You’ll see that the list looks pretty much as it did in SharePoint 2007.



Sources Favorite locations (in Outlook)

Office Blogs: Following in SharePoint 2013

Thanks go to Wictor Wilén for his tips