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What is Microsoft Planner and how to use it

What is Microsoft Planner and how to use it

Microsoft Planner is a standalone application that comes with Office 365. It is used for teamwork and personal planning, with a simple card-based interface that is similar to Trello. Here’s a quick look at how to use it.

The scheduler is available to anyone with a paid Office 365 (O365) subscription, whether it’s a personal subscription you’ve paid for yourself or a business license your company pays for. It’s not available for free, but our sister site Review Geek has a list of excellent alternatives if you do not have a paid subscription to O365.

To access the Scheduler, log in Planner’s website and log in with your O365 account details. If you are already logged in, you can access the application directly through the O365 application launcher.

O365 application launcher with Planner application highlighted.

The scheduler opens in what is called a «Planning Center,» showing plans that you have created or that others have added. If you’re using Planner with a personal O365 subscription, you’ll only see the plans you’ve created in Planner Hub.

Initially, the Planner Hub will be blank because you haven’t created any plans yet. To create a plan, click «New Plan» in the main menu in the left sidebar.

The Planner menu with the "New plan" option highlighted.

Give your plan a name, choose whether it’s public (this doesn’t mean public to the world, it means if other people in your company can see the plan) or private, and click «Create a plan.»

The "Our Plan" panel.

The planner will create a new plan for you. You can now complete it with tasks by clicking «Add Task».

"Add load" option.

The new activity panel will open. Enter a name for the task, a due date, and to whom it is assigned (assigning a task to someone is more useful for organizations than for O365 personal subscriptions). Click the «Add Task» button to create the task.

New Task Panel.

Your task will appear in the «Add a task» window.

Newly created task.

If you’re wondering why the «Add a task» window is still open, this is so you can add many tasks in quick succession without having to constantly click «Add a task.» If you click outside the «Add a task» window, it will disappear instantly.

To open your new task, click on it. The Tasks window will open with many options for adding information.

Main Tasks window.

There are options to add a status, priority, due date, notes, checklists, attachments, and more. You can color-label your tasks on the right side of the item.

Color coding labels.

An important point is that there is no «Save» button. Once you’ve modified a task, simply close it using the «X» in the upper right corner; all changes are saved automatically.

"X" in the upper right corner of the load window.

After you complete a task, set the Progress to «Completed» and then the task will be filtered in your cup so that it is less visible.

The Progress field showing the task as completed.

A completed task in the to-do list.

Having a long to-do list is good, but it would be better to have different to-do lists. To manage these tasks, the Planner has a concept of «buckets». A new plan has only one «Bucket» called «To Do».

Default "To do" cup.

You can add as many repositories as you want using the «Add a new repository» option.

The "Add a new deposit" option.

I added a «Finished» bucket, but you can use any name.

A new warehouse, called "Ready".

Moving a task from one bucket to another is as simple as drag and drop.

A task that moves from one cube to another.

You can move open or closed tasks between any bucket as many times as you want.

The planner has many other useful bells and whistles, but the combination of tasks and cubes is the main functionality. We used Planner and we like it quite a lot; It’s not as complicated as Jira or as customizable as Trello and Asana, but it could be a good thing, depending on your requirements.

If you want a simple to-do list tool that gives you a visual view of your tasks and you have an O365 subscription, the Scheduler may be what you’re looking for.