​Task Lists in SharePoint 2013
By Laura Rogers, SharePoint MVP

Understanding Task List Improvements in SharePoint

In SharePoint 2013, task lists have been dramatically improved.  In this article, I will take you through some of the visual and functional changes, and show you how task lists are much more useful than they have ever been!


Each task list now has a default view that contains a graphical timeline at the top of the list.  When a new task is created, you have the option of displaying that task on the timeline.  When you click the ellipsis next to a task, a pop up menu gives you the option of adding or removing that item from the timeline.

SharePoint Task Lists 

Click on any task in the timeline, and there are a plethora of options for changing the display configuration. 

Task Lists in SharePoint 2013

Notice that when this task in the timeline is selected, there is a Timeline tab in the ribbon.  This tab lets you configure the look and feel of each individual timeline task.  Choose to display each task as a bar or as a callout outside of the timeline.

As for the list of tasks, there have been some definite improvements as far as appearance goes.  There are a few things to notice in the screenshot below.  For overdue tasks, the due date automatically appears in red.  There is also a new check box that exists next to each task so that you can quickly mark it as complete.  Completed tasks are displayed with a line through the middle of the name.

SharePoint 2013 Task Lists

Don't worry, if you don't like the completed items to appear with a line across them, this is a setting that can be changed.  Modify the view of the task list, and in the view settings expand the Style section.  There is a checkbox for Show completed items as struck through.  From here, you can even turn off the timeline portion completely, which may be a good idea if you're trying to conserve real estate on the page.

Web Parts

There are a couple of new out of box web parts that revolve around tasks.

Project Summary:

This web part displays a great timeline around a task list.  There are little arrows at the top right that let you toggle between the timeline and the list of late tasks.  When you create a site from the project site template, this web part is included on the homepage by default.

Project Summary Task List in SharePoint 2013(Enterprise site collection features must be enabled in order to have this available.)

Project Summary Web Part in SharePoint 2013
The web part settings allow you to pick a task list, and choose some more options from the checkboxes below.  The upcoming setting will also let you show items from the calendar on the site.


This one is similar to the Project Summary web part, except it’s simplified:

Timeline web part in SharePoint 2013

Notice that there’s no “add task” or “edit list” button, and there is no pretty little pane on the left letting you know about overdue, soon due tasks and such.  The web part settings allow you to pick a web, list and view name.  The thing that’s BETTER than the project summary one, is that this one lets you pick a different site, and the project summary doesn’t.

Timeline web part settings in SharePoint 2013 
(Timeline Web Part in SharePoint 2013)

When you click the ellipsis next to any task, though, you are presented with a new option to Create Subtask.  What happens when this button is clicked?

  • You are immediately switched to datasheet view, which is now called Quick Edit view.
  • A new, empty row is inserted under the item under which you'd like to create a subtask.
  • This new item is indented, and a little arrow is displayed next to its "parent".
When you switch back to the normal view by clicking the List tab and the View button, this indented task is what you see:

Subtasks in SharePoint 2013 

Task Rollups

Finally, the absolute coolest feature related to tasks in SharePoint 2013 is the fact that each person gets to look at one big rollup task list, which shows all tasks from any site in SharePoint, all in one big list.  This is huge!  No longer do you have to wonder and remember which sites contain tasks that are assigned to you, they are all in one place.

Here is a whole blog post that I wrote on the topic a couple of months ago: Hidden Gem: Color Coded Task Timeline

- Laura Rogers


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