Guilherand-Granges, France - November 13, 2020. Notebook with Microsoft Power Automate logo. Streamline repetitive tasks and paperless processes.
Image: PhotoGranary/Adobe Stock

Most of us can’t remember every time-sensitive task, so we use alarms to remind us about deadlines. For example, you might send a monthly sales report to your boss once a month using a flow. To make sure you update the report before it’s sent, you might use a Microsoft Power Automate flow that sends you a reminder before the flow sends the report.

In this tutorial, I show you how to create a flow that will send an email reminder on schedule using Microsoft’s Power Automate. You can send the reminder to yourself, to a colleague or both. We’ll be creating only the reminder flow.

You’ll need Microsoft 365, which includes Power Automate and OneDrive for Business. You can send the email to your preferred client; I’ll use Outlook 365. If you don’t have Outlook 365, you can purchase a pay-as-you-go subscription to Power Automate.

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What are flows in Microsoft Power Automate?

Flows are the building blocks to automating workflows in Power Automate. You’ll use flows to streamline and automate repetitive tasks. Power Automate seldom requires code — on the job training with flows can quickly turn anyone into a regular user.

Start by thinking about which actions in the process are manual. You might even draw a simple flow with pen and paper to get the creative juices flowing. Note what you’ll need: Do you need a specific file? Do you need to include other colleagues? Once you have a step-by-step review of the task, check Power Automate for existing templates that will require only a bit of tweaking.

In our case, we don’t need anything other than our organizational email address. So, let’s move on to the flow.

How to create a scheduled flow in Power Automate

Initially, you might think an email flow is appropriate, but at the heart of this task is a scheduled flow. Power Automate has several scheduled template flows, but we’ll build this one from scratch so you can learn more about flows.

Sign into Power Automate via OneDrive or your Microsoft account.

Click Create in the left pane and double-click Scheduled Cloud Flow in the Start From Blank section (Figure A).

Figure A

In Power Automate, choose a Scheduled Cloud Flow.

In the resulting dialog, name the flow, set the date and time, and set a repeat interval (Figure B). The Send Report Reminder flow will send an email reminder every month starting with August 2nd at 10:00 AM.

Figure B

In Power Automate, set the flow name, date, time and interval.

You can edit the flow by clicking Recurrence in the console. Click Advanced Options (Figure C) to set time zones and other advanced options. I won’t complicate the example by setting additional recurrence options, but feel free to look around before continuing. When you’re ready to continue, click Next Step.

Figure C

In Power Automate’s Advanced Options, you can review the schedule settings.

The next step offers so many options that it’s best to filter them. In this case, click the Office 365 Outlook option (Figure D), because this is the software we’ll use to send the email; if you use Mail, click Mail instead – the instructions won’t change. Power Automate will update triggers and actions to only those available for Outlook.

Figure D

In Power Automate, choose Outlook to send the email.

We don’t need a trigger because we’ve set a schedule for the action. On the Action tab, click Send An Email (Figure E). Enter your organizational email address in the To control. Power Automate has autofill properties, so it should suggest the right contact (you) after you type only a few characters. Click Show Advanced Options to access all the fields.

Figure E

Choose the Send An Email action.

Using Figure F as a guide, set the appropriate settings:

  • To
  • Subject
  • Body
  • From (Send As)

Figure F

There are only four settings to set in this Power Automate screen.

This is such a simple flow that we don’t need most of the settings. If you’re sending the email to someone else, you might want to send a copy to yourself, so you know the flow worked as expected. At this point, you’re done, so click Save.

How to test a flow in Power Automate

You should always test a flow in Power Automate, even if you’re confident it will work. After saving, click Test in the top-right corner. Even though this is a scheduled event, Power Automate will allow you to test it immediately. After clicking Test, click Manually, and then click Test (Figure G). In the next step, click Run Flow.

Figure G

Testing a flow in Power Automate.

As you can see in Figure H, the flow was successful.

Figure H

A flow in Power Automate was successful.

Open Outlook (or Mail) to prove the flow’s success by finding the email sent to you – you can see mine in Figure I. Click My Flows to access the flow at any time.

Figure I

The test Power Automate flow sent the email to my organizational email address.

This Microsoft Power Automate flow is simple, but it has the potential to save a lot of frustration if you forget to update that sales report for your boss.

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