Keep yourself organized by assigning reminder flags to your e-mail messages

Flag e-mails for follow-up
By Alicia Erlich on 14 Aug 2011 03:58 pm EDT

On any given day I'm bombarded with e-mails. With the nonstop barrage of work that's piled on my desk some of the important ones will slip through the cracks. That's why I flag e-mail messages on my BlackBerry with follow-up reminders. They keep track of what warrants a reply or what needs to get done. I incorporate flags into my daily to do list at work but there are endless ways you can use them in your everyday life. Features differ depending if you're running on BIS or BES but we'll get to that later.

Add a flag to a message 

Flag messages for follow-up

First introduced in OS 5, only incoming and outgoing e-mail messages can be flagged. Unfortunately, PIN or SMS/MMS messages are not supported. All you need to do is put your cursor over the message, press the menu key and select Flag for Follow Up. A little red generic flag now appears in the right hand corner. If you open the e-mail you will see a Follow up tag displayed. See not to hard and check out these keyboard shortcuts: 

  • To filter your inbox to view only flagged messages press the ALT key and F. All flags are displayed regardless of status (i.e. Completed/Not completed)
  • To add a flag to a message highlight and press W. Pressing W again on the same message marks the flag as complete

Modify a flag 

Flag Properties 

For some of us that little default flag is not enough. That's where customization comes into play. By going into Flag Properties you have four options at your disposal: Request, Color, Status, and Due Date. That way nothing urgent is forgotten or ignored. To access, scroll to and highlight the e-mail, press the menu key and select Flag Properties. BES users will notice that any changes made to the flags on their device will be updated on their computer and vice versa. Any or all of these fields can be updated or modified at any time.  

Flag reminder notification

  • Request -assign what type of flag is needed from a list of preset items in the drop down menu. Whichever option you assign is displayed when you open the message along with the due date (if any).
  • Color - assign a particular color to a flag. I color code by importance or by category. For example, with my boss I use a specific color scheme to correspond with departmental messages: blue for accounting, green for corporate and purple for HR related items, etc. Colored flags only appear when you open a message or when viewing your list of messages. It does not show in the reminder notification.
  • Status -mark a task as completed or not completed. Completed flags display the date and time performed in the message and remove all reminder notifications.  When marked complete, the flag changes to a light blue with a check mark.
  • Due date - you can choose to input a reminder date to trigger the pop-up notification similar to a calendar entry reminder. You have the option to mark complete, open message, or dismiss. It does not appear in your calendar and there's no snoozing. Dates must be modified by going back into flag properties.
Fun fact: You can add a flag to more than one message a time just as you would when selecting multiple messages to delete. However, you must modify the properties of each one separately.  

Add a flag to an outgoing message 

Flag outgoing message 

When composing a message press the menu key and select Flag for Follow Up and you'll be directed to the flag properties screen. Just like before fill in the appropriate fields and press Menu > Save. Recipients will be able to see this flag in their inbox and can adjust accordingly. If the sender modifies a flag after it's already sent it will only update on their end, not the recipients.

Warning: This feature will only work if you are connected to your corporate e-mail (BES 5.X) running on MS Exchange on a device with OS 5.x and higher. Flagged e-mails will not show up on BIS recipient's devices. Believe me I tried. Thanks Isaac.

Syncing flags

Now here's where it gets a little tricky. Only BES users have the ability to sync flagged e-mails with their desktop. That way flags created on their device appear on their desktop and vice versa. Consumers connected on BIS cannot sync. There is a temporary solution for those who rely on flags as a daily To Do list. From my work machine I converted all my flags into tasks (in Outlook you can drag and drop). Then I connected my device via USB and synced with Desktop Manager and it worked. It's an extra step but something to look into as an alternative. 

Remove a flag

Delete Flags OS 6 

Scroll to and highlight the flagged message and press the menu key. OS 5 users can choose Delete Flag while OS 6 users will select Clear Flag.

Flagging e-mails is one of the ways my BlackBerry helps me get things done. Not only that but if you're a PlayBook owner, you can also flag e-mail messages while bridged to your device. 

Flag emails on the PlayBook


Reader comments

Keep yourself organized by assigning reminder flags to your e-mail messages


I love the flag option. I use colors for each type of email account. I like the idea of making them tasks that sync with my BB - but I won't be using that.

in the same way as flags for groups our work email browser lets me colour email address so that managers from each unit come up as highlighted so that i don't miss those requests. just recently have we been able to add comments to flags from there.

i might try starting to flag more from my phone looks like it's not that much an extra step.

I will have to change to verizon to get the 9930 & there plans are higher. I am between the rock & hard place as they say & I a account approved with Verizon all I have to do is call order the 9930 plus pay for with a credit card & it will be on its way. Verizon starts selling the 9930 Monday over the phone stores the 25th.

Although this is an "old" feature, it an important one that, I feel, gets lost in the cracks (pun intended). This was a great walkthough on a very useful work habit! Thank you Alicia! A+!

Love the flag feature and use it often. It would be even more useful if there was a way to view just the flagged messages. I have rsearched this and can't find a way. Would anyone know if this is possible? Thanks.

ThE flagging of messages works but I can't view the messages with alt + F - any ideas why? Also, Kevin, why don't I get the 'zoom. in' magnifying glass on the Crackberry mobile site?

Thank you so much. I used the Flags but didn't know you could change anything or add reminders.