I want to change the start date of a specific section in my project.

When I do that, it automatically changes the mode of this section from auto to manually schedule.

Is it possible to change the date and still remain on auto-schedule mode?

From MSP 2010, typing a date directly into the Start column of a Summary task automatically converts it to manual mode. Instead, double-click on the task and enter a "Start No Earlier Than" constraint on the Advanced tab of the Summary Task Information dialog.

  • (Note: constraints and logic on summary tasks are generally considered bad practice. Think about adding a sectional start milestone with a SNET constraint and suitable successor relationships to the other non-summary tasks in the section.) – Tom Boyle Aug 10 at 12:58

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