E-mail Composing

HowTo Adding header text or a top-banner to all outgoing mail

Aside from having a default signature, when creating a new message or reply/forward, some people (usually in marketing) also prefer to have a banner or special header text at the top of the message.

While this seems like an easy request, implementing it in such a way that it is added automatically is actually quite challenging and has its limitations in Outlook usability.

This guide provides several approaches how to solve this issue with the available Outlook features but also includes a VBA macro solution to fully automate adding the banner to your outgoing emails in a non-intrusive way.

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HowTo Send As a Delegate or a Distribution Group by default

Button FromWhen you have permissions to “Send As” or “On Behalf Of” another mailbox or Mail Enabled Distribution Group in an Exchange environment, you can use the From field in Outlook to specify this.

However, in some situations, it is not uncommon that you need to send out as this mailbox or distribution group more often than from your own name. For instance, when you work in support and need the send out from the central support address rather than your own or when you represent a manager.

While you can manually specify the From field to send from each time you need to send out as that address, when needing to do that becomes the rule rather than the exception, it’s time to automate things.

This guide instructs you how you can cope with the above scenarios via built-in Outlook account configuration options and settings but also provides a code sample to set the From address programmatically.

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HowTo Always Reply in HTML

Reply in HTML buttonWhile you can configure a default message format for composing new messages, Outlook will always reply in the same format as the original message.

From a compatibility and layout maintaining point of view, this makes sense. However, on some occasions, it makes sense to “upgrade” the message format from Plain Text to HTML.

While you can manually change the message format after pressing Reply, you could be left with the wrong font settings and your Plain Text signature would have been added rather than your HTML signature.

The macro in this guide will let you reply in the HTML format as easy as pressing a “Reply in HTML” button.

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HowTo Add Instant Messaging links to your Signature

Common signatures include a greeting, your name, your company name and possibly a website address and a phone number. Since a lot more contact is being done via the Internet with Instant Messaging (IM) clients, such as Windows Live Messenger and Skype, you can also add special links which will allow the receiver to directly contact you via one of those methods as well.

With the use of recognizable icons, you can easily include these references without making your signature look huge.

This guide starts off with an example of a signature which is small but contains several instant communication links as well. After that, an overview is given of the instant communication links that can be used with commonly used IM clients. These overviews also contain a suggested icon for the service which you can use in your signature.

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HowTo Setting up a Corporate Signature

Corporate Signature buttonWithin a company, you usually want to control the signatures that users are using when sending mail outside of the company. Most companies want to include at least a “disclaimer” text, others want to control the amount of contact details as well and still others want to control the entire look and feel of the signature.

Outlook offers no direct means to do this since the Signature feature in Outlook is a client side feature and thus users can create and modify their own signature. You can lock down the access to the Signature feature by using Group Policies but that still doesn’t take away the issue of creating/generating a standard signature in the first place and deploying it to the users.

This guide discusses the features that Exchange offers to create and manage signatures at server level. Also, additional methods are being discussed to manage it without an Exchange server. Finally, an overview of 3rd party solutions is provided for alternative solutions.

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HowTo Working with message templates

Templates buttonWorking with message templates can be a great way to save some time composing emails or answering repeated requests. Outlook offers several methods to work with message templates to be more productive in any situation.

This guide discusses the various methods and offers some tips to get you started with.

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HowTo Send as PDF with original

When you install the Save as PDF and XPS addin for Office 2007, then you can also save your document in the pdf-format for several Office applications. Additionally it allows you to use the Send-> Email As PDF Attachment option to directly share send out the open document as a pdf-file.

On occassion it can be convenient to send out both the pdf out with the original. While previous versions of Office can also open the new Office file formats, this way you know for sure that they can at least open it (as pdf) if they cannot provide in-line comments (in the original document) when they haven't installed the compatibility addin.

This guide will explain how you can create that functionality with a macro in Word. It also has code examples for using this macro in PowerPoint and Excel.

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HowTo Mail Merge: Automatically generate and send personalized emails

Mail Merge buttonA mail merge allows you to send personalized messages to a large group of people at once without them knowing who else you have sent it to. This is a great way to have bulk messages look more personal, send everybody their own information (like a logon name and password) or send out Christmas cards.

There are various ways to do a mail merge and there are various tools available to further simply the process or add even more options. This guide gives an overview of these methods and walks you through a couple of examples to do your own mail merge.

Although you can also do a mail merge to a document or directly to a printer, in our examples we will use an email as the output. The process for the other output options is very similar and this guide can also be used for that.

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HowTo Creating, using and managing Signatures

Signature buttonCreating and selecting a signature is not that difficult in Outlook. However creating the signature you want with for example a company logo in it can be quite of a hassle.

This guide will cover both the basics and advanced examples for creating, using and managing signatures in Outlook.

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HowTo Send Word Document As Email

In previous versions of Word (pre-Office 2007) you had the ability to send the contents of your current document as the contents of your email. In Word 2007/2010 you initially only have the option to send it as an attachment. To add that functionality again you can use this tip.

However, you’d still be in the Word environment. The drawback of this, is that you are missing some Outlook features such as;

  • choosing the Sent Items folder
  • convenient access to your signatures if you only have 1 mail account
  • inserting Business Cards
  • inserting Quick Parts you saved in Outlook
  • custom VBA code
  • some addins that you have installed for Outlook won’t function properly

This guide will explain how you can mimic the “Send to Mail Recipient” feature by using VBA code and allow you to work in an Outlook environment, giving you access to the features you need.

Continue reading: Send Word Document As Email