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Let’s face it, when you wake up in the morning, the devil is in the inbox. Opening it then isn’t always a recipe for productivity. But what if you could use an email client like Outlook and design your day according to the best task (and time) management rules? TaskCracker for Outlook is a task management add-in that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft’s email client and turns it into a planning tool.

From colored Post-It notes to sketch-pens, task management benefits from visual cues. TaskCracker ($39.95) also follows the same approach by breaking down your gigs and grinds on a colored matrix. So, let’s turn over our to-dos to TaskCracker and use it to show us how visual task management could prove to be a simpler productivity method.

We’re giving away 10 copies of TaskCracker for Outlook. Read on and join the competition.

Change The Way You Manage Tasks In Outlook

Outlook has its own Tasks and To-do list features which allow you to schedule all pending activities with the calendar. Outlook also organizes your email several ways (e.g. into folders) and flags them according to importance. In its own way, it is a powerful productivity aid with options that help you get into the nitty-gritty of each future activity. Outlook’s default feature is sufficient if you like linear lists. But linear lists have one failing — they do not give you a bird’s eye view of your calendar.

Outlook Tasks

As you can see in the screenshot of Outlook above, the queue of pending tasks doesn’t tell you much at a glance. A linear to-do list also does not distinctly separate tasks on the basis of time and priority. TaskCracker attacks these flaws with a visual matrix which we get into further down.

A Microsoft Outlook Task Management Add-in

TaskCracker installs as an add-in within the native interface of Microsoft Outlook. It is supported in Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013. The small add-in is installed in a blink. Launch Outlook to see TaskCracker as a new tab on the Ribbon and also as a button on the Navigation pane.

Click on TaskCracker to reveal the grid. As you can see in the screenshot below, TaskCracker calls this layout the Visual urgency / Importance matrix. All your accumulated tasks are neatly sorted according to their relative importance and due dates for completion.

TaskCracker Matrix

You can go back to the default Outlook Tasks and To-do List view by clicking the respective buttons on the Navigation pane. Although, I am pretty sure you would prefer the structured view of TaskCracker.

TaskCracker has absolutely no learning curve as it supplants itself on the schedules you have set up in Outlook. It merely gives you a more visual way of organizing your daily, weekly, and future plans. You can create a new task in the usual way and enter the details in the New Task dialog. TaskCracker recognizes the priority level and the urgency flags and assigns them logically on the matrix. Progress (as percentage) is indicated on each task.

TaskCracker Matrix

Any emails which have been flagged for follow-up are also assigned their respective places on the TaskCracker matrix. So, you can deal with both email follow-ups and other tasks in the same place. Hover over the column heads to see the exact days.

The urgency-importance matrix is color-coded which helps you easily differentiate between the action items. To rearrange the priority of the tasks around the matrix, you can select a task individually or take them in groups and organize them with a drag-and-drop under other time-priority heads. Use the Shift key to select contiguous tasks or the Ctrl key to select non-contiguous ones before you drag-and-drop them. One possible kink is that you can’t drag-and-drop to change the priority within the cell in the matrix. I would have loved the use of arrow keys here to quickly reorder tasks around the columns.

What would have taken minutes in an overwhelmingly long linear list, takes a few seconds here. A right-click on any task provides a few standard options as you can see below in the screenshot:

TaskCracker Matrix

You can also go into the Settings and enable a few options to make the visual display more detailed:

TaskCracker Settings

As you can see in the next screenshot, I have set up the tasks to show me folder names, reminders, and recurrence from the Settings.

TaskCracker Details

The Clear Benefits of Visual Task Management

TaskCracker is a simple add-in. It doesn’t do anything dramatically different. But with a simple introduction of the urgency/importance matrix, it taps into the wisdom of the best time management practices like Eisenhower’s matrix, Getting Things Done, and Stephen Covey Time Management. As it integrates email action items into the workflow, TaskCracker helps you reclaim your inbox and reach the state of — Inbox Zero. So, you have three clear benefits:

  • It increases your efficiency by making the time management process more visible.
  • It helps you balance urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks are not always important while important tasks may not be urgent.
  • It clarifies your goals and helps you improve communication and information sharing.

Try TaskCracker for Outlook. If you are a visual person, we are sure you will like its effectiveness which it packages with simplicity.

How do I win a copy of TaskCracker?

You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.

After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, September 13. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

The Winners

  • Ciprian Hriscu
  • Ryan Campbell
  • Daniel Gosk
  • Scott Macmillan
  • Amar Rjoub
  • Kim Burnett
  • Tarek Ramadan
  • Baldo Sanfilippo
  • Cora Rogers
  • Scott Hunt

Congratulations! If you were selected as a winner, you would have received your license via email from jackson@makeuseof.com. If you require any assistance, please get in touch with Jackson Chung before October 13. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.

Submit your apps and software to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

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  1. Tumuck
    June 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Please feel free to remove my entensive post as I did abuse use of this forum. I thought it would be moierated before being posted and was a quick attept to commuicate with page developers.
    No time for spell check dont own one.

  2. Tumuck
    June 18, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Lost my lenghtly comment rechecking the links above for OIbit.
    SO you are spared my venting here. Lets just say that I spent 3 weeks upddating a Lenovo system Windows 7 x86. Drivers, Windows Update corruption fix, Installed Programs. Now in mist of working through FARBAR reports. Lenovo lacks support for the T410 their catalog and Setup utlity was to no prevail. The Wireless network adapter had 5 sub support Wirless drivers (not shown in devices) to cross refrence and narrow down to the proper one. Set up a wireless router and printer with new drivers. Yet to install new programs. Decided take a momentary 8 hour break to research online for a Unistaller program so when finished could start removing older unneeded programs. Used EVERYWHERE, AUTORUNS, and autorun for years to remove dicover and remove traces but as you can see at a lost of invested time. Ifunbox and AVG where a challenge to unistall manual after the Soft uninstaller and support unistallers failed. The system is now clean. Hence and unistaller could help in procceeding with future installs and possible removals to keep the system clean. I still have to try the lates version of mailware bytes again as the install was corrupted the first attempt or go back to older version. Still have a 2.5 gig profile (never saw that before on such a simple system) to deal with. Anyhow the build up is the OIbit links above all three as I found out burried in my endevors and drop my guard, to the IObit version 6 installer version not the portable. I spent 4 hours or more this fathers day searching and comparing Unistallers online. Somewhere it was mentioned (Ithought your page) that reommended using the protable to avoid a bundleware in the full version. Finding most other sites online refered to version 1xxx portable I returned here for the download link. Missing the point I ran the download and found I had the full version installed on this HD. So I just created more work for myself. I already a week ago installed the free handicapped version of Softorganizer bit finding it did not remove traces unless upgraded it was not of any use. Now I have two programs to contended with. I just went though a manaual unistall of AVG and Ifunbox and was hoping to save some time after both soft unistalls failed and the support unistalll was not any better.
    It wasn't Major geeks fault as now I see the link was to Version 6IObit and the IO bit home page download link was the same. So it was your site inproper link reference that is the problem.
    OK so I vented again but lightly this time. Have a happy fathers days. Hope you time was spent more proactive then mine.

    BTW i SOULD NOT EVEN BOTHER TO SHARE MY PROGRAM OPPINION NOW
    Yet the dingy IObit interface does not relect the features I believed the program to have. I hesitate to explore. Im looking for the otion to run a Soft and or a Deep Scan. Then ability to select the trace files to unistall. I was very incline to chose to run the Revo program over IOBIT. Fairly new to portables and realize I still can. That was the point of trying the portables so I woild not have to get into details of their removal, isnt that the idea of a unistaller. I dont believe I can use a unistaller with its removal program within its own program, to uninstall itself. What I found lacking in Revo portable is the lack of a force removal option. Yet all the other prefererd options seem to be there acording to the program discription.
    Gee was realing trying to limoit my process and start ups from growing as thius system resources are taxed as is (win 7 x86)
    cant believe I got caught offgurad by this. Just I'm pressed to finish and get off this system.
    It's the obvious mistake of the links that I am so anoyed about.

  3. Roman K
    September 13, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Done, thanks

  4. J A
    September 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Easy to use.

  5. Sax
    September 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

    this plugin is what MS office should already have, just what I'm looking for. takes a good but well under-used feature and makes it productive!

  6. vietnamrum
    September 12, 2013 at 1:05 am

    neatly sorted according to their relative importance and due dates for completion.
    Thanks for a great giveaway. Vietnamrum

  7. vietnamrum
    September 12, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Thanks for a great giveaway.

    Vietnamrum

  8. Paul Little
    September 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Can use help in managing calendar and commitments

  9. Paul Little
    September 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    help to manage information and commitments

  10. IllRep
    September 11, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I could do with cracking some tasks here :)

  11. Leahcim S
    September 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    stress free Thanks

  12. Tomasz J
    September 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    I look the easy and fast to use reminder.

  13. Shmuel M
    September 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I really need a task manager BADLY - but I need another task manager to remind me to enter the tasks! What I'm looking for is something that's totally user friendly and does not cause me to procrastinate making entries.

    • Saikat B
      September 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Another task manager to remind me to enter the tasks = our own self-discipline :)

  14. Alexander D
    September 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

    It's important to find information quickly, So it has to have a clear structure and options to customize the tasks.

  15. Uttam S
    September 10, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Wow Really Great Software

    • Ben
      September 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you, Uttam! Enjoy!

  16. Mike D
    September 10, 2013 at 4:58 am

    "What do you look for in the perfect task management system?"

    - convenience
    - integration
    - time-tracking

  17. charu
    September 10, 2013 at 3:50 am

    its easy to use and efficient

  18. Sam K
    September 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I look for ease of use.

    • Saikat B
      September 10, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      That's what this is all about :)

  19. Steve
    September 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    If they had called it TaskN-word, people would get all pissed off. Stupid double-standards.

  20. Selcuk D
    September 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Availability on mobile platforms is important

    • Saikat B
      September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Correct me if I am wrong, but Outlook.com on Android isn't really popular. Or is it? The target customer is majorly desktop.

  21. Josh G
    September 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    With new versions of Office every couple years, I wonder why they don't already have something like this built-in...

    • Ben
      September 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      Anyways, Josh, now you have it! And we're happy you appreciate it.

    • Saikat B
      September 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      Outlook does have Tasks built in. But in my experience, with lots of information it tends to get jumbled up and not so easy to have an overview of. This is where this simple tool really helps.

    • Josh G
      September 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      @Saikat B : yes, for work I use the Tasks feature daily, I was just pondering why it's still so limited after so many years/versions.

      For my personal tasks I use Toodledo and have it feed into my Google Calendar.

    • Saikat B
      September 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Absolutely! They could do so much more with it, especially because now productivity and infomation overload is a much bigger thing than it used to be.

  22. Scott H
    September 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    that would save me a lot off stress

    • Ben
      September 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      That would mean our work has a lot of sense. Thank you, Scott!