Some days I simply can t get in touch with all the contacts that I've flagged for follow-up. I d like to highlight multiple contacts in the Phone List view, then change the time once to update the date on the flags for all selected contacts. I've tried grouping my contacts by the Reminder Time field from the All Task Fields list, then dragging contacts from one Reminder Time group to another. However, when I open the contact, the follow-up flag date hasn't changed. Is there a way to make this work?

You re on the right track by trying to use drag-and-drop in a grouped view to update multiple items at once. The problem is just that you picked the wrong field. Instead of Reminder Time, use the Due By field from the All Mail Fields list. Due By is the field that corresponds to the flag follow-up date for contacts.

This question made me wonder whether it might be possible to add a follow-up flag to multiple contacts and use one drag-and-drop operation to set the follow-up date. That approach works and turns out to be easy to do if you set up a grouped view that groups first by the Follow Up Flag field, then by the Due By field, as Figure 1 shows. For both fields, you need to select All Mail fields from the Select available fields from list at the bottom of the Group By dialog box. (Here s a tip: To quickly launch the Group By dialog box, right-click the column headings in any table view, choose Customize Current View, then click Group By.)

After you group the view by both fields, you should see a group called Follow Up Flag: Follow up. You might also see a Follow Up Flag: Call group or other Follow Up Flag groups for different follow-up tasks that you've assigned to existing contacts. Under each Follow Up Flag group, you should see one or more Due By groups, each with either a specific date or None as the date. Dragging an unflagged contact to a Due By group both assigns the corresponding due date and sets the follow-up flag to the same value as the parent Follow Up Flag group. For example, if you drag contacts to the Due By: Monday, May 22, 2006 group that appears under the Follow Up Flag: Call group, Outlook will update each contact with a follow-up flag of Call and a due date of May 22. Thus, one drag-and-drop operation can quickly assign follow-up information to multiple unflagged contacts.

Because Outlook supports grouping by as many as four fields, you can handle some fairly complex multiple-field updates with this technique, not just for Contacts, but for other types of Outlook items as well.