Email templates in MS Outlook

For a recent job interview I was asked to prepare a presentation “on something technical”. So I chose to present a collection of Outlook productivity hacks (which I really should move from PowerPoint and post here sometime). Anyway, one of the people in the panel asked me how you do template email in Outlook, so you don’t have to type the same things over and over. Unfortunately I couldn’t give a good answer besides telling her that I’ve tried to figure it out before and didn’t get it. But now I get it.

First, how to create outlook templates [Source: Microsoft Office Online]

  • If you use Word as an email editor in Outlook, turn that off for now: Tools | Options | Mail Format | Remove check mark next to “Use Microsoft Office Word …”
  • Start a new mail message, fill in the content you want in the template: Recipient addresses, subject, text, etc.
  • Save it as a template: File | Save As | select Outlook Template | Name it and save it somewhere (it will be a .oft file)
  • Switch back to using Word as email editor if you like

There, all done creating the template, now for how to access it. The article linked above gives only the standard way:

  • From the Inbox, go Tools | Forms | Choose Form | Look in | User Templates in the File System
  • Now navigate to the folder where you saved the template, and open it

This process is way slower than you’d want to do in any real situation. Here’s a better way that will create a new button on your Outlook toolbar linked to the new template [Source: Outlookcode.com]

  • Choose View | Toolbars | Customize
  • Drag any button from the Commands tab of the Customize dialog to the toolbar
  • Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name (use ampersand (&) to create a hotkey)
  • Choose Assign Hyperlink | Open | Navigate to the .oft file created above
  • If the button’s name or icon isn’t showing and you want it to, right-click the button again and the “Image and text” style

Even better: Avoid wasting space on the toolbar by adding an extra menu with your specialty shortcuts. Do this first part once:

  • Choose View | Toolbars | Customize
  • Choose the Commands tab, scroll to the bottom of the Categories list, drag the “New Menu” item to the menu line — or to the toolbar(!)
  • Right-click the new button, and give it a new Name, e.g. “&4. Jan’s Templates” (the ampersand makes Alt-4 a hotkey to the menu)

Now for the creation of the individual menu items for the template, repeat the toolbar button procedure from above for each menu item:

  • Choose View | Toolbars | Customize
  • Drag any button from the Commands tab of the Customize dialog to a new item under the new menu item
  • Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name (use ampersand (&) to create a hotkey)
  • Choose Assign Hyperlink | Open | Navigate to the .oft file created above
  • If the button’s name or icon isn’t showing and you want it to, right-click the button again and select the “Image and text” style

Done! If you want access to the new template from outside the Outlook window it’s even easier. Simply create a shortcut to the template file and place that shortcut on your desktop, in your start menu, your Quick Launch bar, or wherever.

40 Comments to “Email templates in MS Outlook”

  1. […] il templates in MS Outlook

    A week ago I posted a tip on how to create and use email templates in Outlook. In the post I went through the s […]

  2. chris 11 August 2005 at 2:48 #

    and do you have a solution to intecrate a headerimage?

  3. Brian Bell 14 September 2005 at 12:26 #

    This is a great set of tips! Much, much, much better than what’s available in Outlook’s help. I just used them, too. Thank you, so much!

  4. Aaron B 19 September 2005 at 7:28 #

    I had everything down, but I could not save it correctly until I read to turn off Word as the email editor. Thanks for the tip.

  5. Sarah McM 8 August 2006 at 14:54 #

    Brilliant, thank you!
    I wonder, do you have any inspiration on avoiding getting a signature at the TOP of an email created using the OFT, other than turning signatures off on new emails?
    Cheers

  6. Jan Karlsbjerg 9 August 2006 at 14:27 #

    Sarah, are you looking to get the signature to appear below quoted text in replies? If so, you may have to mess with the quoting defaults in the settings.

    Unfortunately I’ve installed Outlook 2007 on both my home and my work machine, so I can’t try these out myself, but I’ve got some extra links for you may help the commenters above.

    • This article uses the “stationary” features for the letterhead etc., so you get lots of options to use graphics and colors as “chris” is looking to do [link]
    • This one goes into details about the signature feature. There might be something there for you, Sarah [link]
    • Tom Bunzel from informit.com writes in great detail (with plenty of illustrations) about templates and stationary, and that may help you out too.

    Cheers,
    Jan

  7. dindo 11 August 2006 at 19:02 #

    Great tip! I regularly send out emails to a fixed set of people and this definitely helps a lot!

  8. pierre 15 August 2006 at 14:48 #

    Outstanding and easy to understand. Should note if you grab an icon off the toolbar, it’s already assigned and can’t be modified for other use.

  9. Jeff 13 September 2006 at 5:26 #

    Is there a way to get outlook to not insert my signature in the template?

  10. Rodney 8 January 2007 at 20:49 #

    Hi Jeff & Sarah.

    In response to your question about not inserting the email signature into your templates, here’s how:

    http://support.microsoft.com/?id=840393
    (go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Options
    put in a new DWORD “NoAutosigOnCustomForms” Value “1”)

    It’s a reg key which ensures that signatures are not applied to custom templates in Outlook.

  11. Jan Karlsbjerg 8 January 2007 at 22:53 #

    Thanks Rodney, that’s a cool tip!

  12. JOHN M 26 February 2007 at 18:44 #

    Thanks!!
    MS sucks at telling people how to use their software..
    You rock!!

  13. Fulong 22 March 2007 at 11:28 #

    Problem:

    When saving the oft template, the Chinese characters in the send to address line turn into question marks.

    Question:

    So how can the oft template be correctly saved to display the Chinese characters in the send to address line correctly?

    Ps. I have already attempted to use the Character Encoding for Unicode UTF8, which works fine in composing email, when inserting Chinese characters in the message body.

    Any suggestions?

  14. Tony 3 April 2007 at 7:11 #

    @Rodney,

    Thank you! I was having this exact problem and now everything works perfectly.

  15. Jan Karlsbjerg 3 April 2007 at 10:13 #

    @Fulong: According to the email standards, you have to stick to “regular” ASCII in all of the header fields (to, from, subject, plus some hidden fields).

    And if I remember correctly, you’re actually limited to 7 bit ASCII. You can usually get away with using 8 bit ASCII in the subject (most Scandinavians, French, German, etc. do so routinely). But I’m afraid that there’s no provision for Unicode (16 bit characters).

  16. Dirk 16 April 2007 at 7:28 #

    I am using Outlook Professional 2003, and followed your instructions above, but when I turn off Word as my editor, and create a new mesage, I only get a “Save” option, not a “Save As” option

    😮

  17. Michael 1 June 2007 at 8:36 #

    Jan,

    Do you have a recommendation on how to distribute the template in a group/shared environment? I have a few templates that I would like all of our users to access — would I need to hit each of their machines to setup the toolbar, or can something like this be pushed out through Group Policy?

    Thank you!

  18. Larry 31 July 2007 at 9:30 #

    Okay, so I have Outlook 07 and I can’t turn off Word as my editor…

    How do I create a new .oft?

  19. Jan Karlsbjerg 1 August 2007 at 2:13 #

    Good question, I hadn’t looked at this since I switched to Outlook 2007 myself.

    It turns out email templates are much more accessible in Outlook 2007: You can save .oft directly from Word: Click the office menu icon (or hit Alt-F) and choose “Save As”, then set the “Save at type” to be “Outlook Template (*.oft)”

  20. Carsten Dreesbach 6 September 2007 at 6:55 #

    This is great, thanks so much for these tips – much more concise than Outlook’s help and exactly what I needed!

    One thing I’m wondering about though – is there a convenient way that I can save all these customizations and settings? I change laptops every 1-2 years and it’s always a major hassle to set everything up anew – wish Windows did things more like Linux with everything in /home/user… 🙁

  21. Martin Stockwell 10 September 2007 at 1:01 #

    In regards to Outlook 2003/2007 oft files… we have a SBS2003 with exchange and about 20 users. we have created oft templates, but each user has there own signature, but the signature dosnt appear at the bottom. they all run office 2003 apart from a few of us which have 2007, but signature doesnt appear in eaither version… have tried the registry but theres no entry “NoAutosigOnCustomForms”.

  22. Prathibha 27 September 2007 at 21:06 #

    Beautiful..Tips..Thanks .Really i was searching for it

  23. sonar 11 October 2007 at 4:11 #

    i created e-mail template , now when i am ready to send so opened that e-mail but at the bottom my image in the signature is gone. the text is shown but not company logo.

  24. sonar 11 October 2007 at 4:19 #

    am looking into why the signature – logo is not shown, now got another problem,

    i turned off the word as e-mail editor to create new template. and opened new message i got the message as 1 or more activex contrlols could not be displayed. clicked ok and the signature logo is not shown at the bottom of th email anyway created the mail and saved in templated – i guess this is the reason sig not showing but
    how to sort this activex control problem so my signature image is shown.

  25. coleki 11 October 2007 at 8:17 #

    This is a great article! Got a question that may or may not have an answer.

    I have a template set up, and a button all working, but the only thing I can’t do is the reg key for the signature. I am on a thin client here at work, so Outlook is not even actually installed on this machine.

    Does anyone know of any other way to change that? An option that’s actually within the Outlook UI would be ideal.

    Thanks!

  26. […] posts that have taken on a life of their own and keep getting read and commented on. One is about email templates in Outlook (25 comments to date), the other is about an annoying error message concerning USB in Windows XP […]

  27. Ahsan 18 March 2008 at 7:45 #

    1. I am struggling to find where I stored my email templates. Is there a way to check where templates aare saved?

    2. How would I check my archiving settings?

    3. How would I schedule my auto archiving?

  28. Jan Karlsbjerg 21 March 2008 at 23:19 #

    @Ahsan:

    1. Well, you could do a search for .oft files

    2. In Outlook 2007 it’s in Tools | Options | Other | AutoArchive. Shouldn’t be too hard to find in other versions of Outlook.

    3. Same place. First item in the configuration page is “Run AutoArchive every XX days”

  29. ds 1 May 2008 at 17:21 #

    Great tip!!! I’m pretty savy with computers, but never knew how easy this would be. Thanks!

  30. FSB 13 September 2008 at 23:28 #

    I would like to know how to disable that security warning I get when I use your method

    • Eduardo Fernandes 25 August 2009 at 4:27 #

      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/925757

      1. Click Start, and then click Run.
      2. In the Open dialog box, type regedit, and then click OK.
      3. In Registry Editor, locate one of the following registry subkeys:
      * HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common
      * HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common
      NoteYou only have to modify one of these registry subkeys. You do not have to modify both of them.
      Note If the Security subkey already exists, skip to Step 6 after selecting the Security subkey.
      4. Click the registry subkey, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click Key.
      5. Type Security, and then press ENTER to name the key.
      6. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
      7. Type DisableHyperlinkWarning, and then press ENTER to name the entry.
      8. In the right pane, right-click DisableHyperlinkWarning, and then click Modify.
      9. In the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, click Decimal, and then type 1 under Value data.

      Note A value of 0 enables the hyperlink warning message. A value of 1 disables the hyperlink warning message.
      10. Click OK.
      11. Exit Registry Editor.

      • Bman 8 October 2010 at 22:25 #

        Thanks man, took me so long to work out how to do this. What a pain!

  31. juliett 22 October 2009 at 13:20 #

    Great post, saved a lot of time, thanks a lot!

  32. maryann 19 January 2010 at 7:01 #

    I can build the email in a template in Outlook 2007 and retrieve it and send it, but it never arrives – tested sending it to myself and others. Everything looks great but it never arrives to recipient. Any ideas?

  33. Anonymous 21 April 2010 at 19:59 #

    Hey there,
    Great stuff! but im having an issue… every time i right click on either the new toolbar or the new icon the only options i get are:

    Standard
    Advanced
    Web
    Customize

    I am unable to rename/assign hotkeys.

    Is there a way around this?
    Thanks

    • Anonymous 31 August 2011 at 19:13 #

      You have to have the customize dialog open when you right click on your button.

  34. Neo 10 August 2010 at 11:53 #

    Jan,
    I have an issue I am not able to add the hyperlink in the linkedin icon in Outlook 2003. I have visted lots of websites for it but no help yet. I have just now added it in my signature part, but outlook 2003 is not giving me any option to select the hyperlink over the logo. I have also tried it through word 2003 and add it to signature but no help yet. I need your help badly, if you can do a favour for me, it would highly appreciatable.
    Regards
    Neo

  35. SunniOne 21 April 2011 at 12:43 #

    So helpful! Thanks!

  36. Anonymous 26 June 2012 at 0:07 #

    Great Tip! Thanks a lot.


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