While Outlook is great at organising your To Do lists, and maybe setting up your schedule, it’s not exactly lightweight. And that can be an issue if you’d like to keep an eye on your tasks, appointments and more, without having to regularly switch back to it just to remind yourself what’s coming up next.
There is a simpler alternative, though -- and it’s called DeskTask. This small free program displays your Outlook calendar and tasks in a transparent window on the desktop, which means you can track your schedule at any time with a glance.
Installation on our test PC was quick and simple (no adware). Make sure you restart your PC afterwards, though -- we didn’t, and it refused to launch, displaying various error messages, until we rebooted and the program began to work properly.
By default DeskTask shows today’s tasks and your calendar items for the next five days, in what looks like a simple text list displayed top-left of your desktop. You get a reasonable amount of control over what’s displayed, though (the program can look as far as 90 days ahead, if you like), and the list is actually a window. Move your mouse cursor over the Calendar icon, click the left mouse button, and you can drag and drop the list to wherever you like on the screen.
This works well as a simple reminder, but the program can do a little more. Click the "Calendar" or "Tasks" list headers and that particular Outlook section will launch, while you can also have Outlook display the details of particular items when you click on them (Options > General > check "Open Outlook Items").
There are plenty of other configuration options you’ll want to examine, too. By default the program only refreshes its display once every hour, for instance, not enough for our liking. This can be cut to once a minute, though, if you like. And, perhaps more usefully, you can set up a "Refresh Hotkey" where you can tell the program to fetch the latest Outlook details as required.
If there’s one small potential catch here it’s that DeskTask is only supported for English language versions of Outlook. It may work elsewhere, but it might not -- you’ll have to try it and see.
Compatibility is otherwise very impressive, though, with the program working with all versions of Office from 97 -- 2013, and running on everything from Windows NT to 8. And so on balance we think DeskTask provides a very convenient way to monitor your Outlook schedule, and should save you plenty of time and resources.