For a long time Windows has an option to select a file in Explorer and email it. Right-click on a file, choose ‘Send to’ then one from the list of options. The exact list depends on what you have installed on your computer.
Windows Mail Recipient shortcut
One of the default entries is ‘Mail recipient’. It seems very handy at first but after a while drives people crazy.
- Message wording is fixed. The subject line and body text wording are fixed and can’t be changed.
- If you want to attach an image, a dialog appears with options to change the file size and dimensions of images.
Windows - attach files dialog for pictures
You can’t stop this dialog appearing, nor can you change the default ‘Medium’ setting. This is a typical ‘lowest common user’ choice by Microsoft – it works for very novice users but no-one else. These days mailboxes have greatly increased the accepted size for incoming messages so it’s common to email full size images, sometimes over 5MB each. More and more people want to skip this dialog and simply send the file they have, complete and untouched by Microsoft.
- The Outlook message window created by the shortcut is ‘fixed’ or ‘modal’ in geek-speak (unlike a normal message pane in Outlook). That means you can’t switch to another Outlook window while the message is open. If an urgent message arrives while you’re sending a file, you can’t switch over to read it. Sometimes you want to copy something from an existing message into the new message – bad luck – you can’t do it courtesy of clumsy choices by Microsoft.
- In Outlook the ‘Mail Recipient’ option defaults to a plain text message even if you have another format as the default for new messages. You have to select HTML formatting yourself.
One advantage of the Windows supplied shortcut is that you can select multiple files to be attached to a single email.
This feature is actually in Windows, not Outlook. In fact the Send To shortcut will work with whatever default email program is setup in Windows. It’s a shame the Office team don’t add an Outlook specific shortcut to bypass these limitations.
Making a mail recipient shortcut that works for you
You can fix the shortcut to go directly to Outlook without stopping, without asking silly questions, with modern formatting options and leaving you to add whatever words you like. In other words, open a blank email message with the file attached and in the format you choose ready to be completed and sent.
Here’s how to do it. (The instructions given by Microsoft have the dubious ‘trifecta’ of being incomplete, out of date and wrong.)
We’ll add a new item to the ‘Send to’ menu, leaving the current one untouched in case you decide to go back.
Find the ‘\SendTo’ folder. This is where the menu shortcuts are kept. In Windows 7 and Vista you’ll find it at:
In XP go to: \Documents and Settings\<username>\SendTo
In that folder create a new Shortcut item (File | New | Shortcut or use the right-click menu) and you may see a wizard:
Windows - create shortcut wizard 1
‘Location of item’ in this case means the location and name of the email program, Outlook.exe
Where Outlook.exe is on your computer depends on the version of Windows or Office as well as the setup details so we can only give general guidance.
It should be below the ‘\Program Files\Microsoft Office’ folder in a folder named for the Microsoft internal version of Office . For example Office 2010 is usually in “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14”. Office 2007 uses ‘Office12’ and so on back into the past.
If you have 32-bit Office 2010 running on 64-bit Windows then it will be ‘\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14’.
Use the Browse dialog to select Outlook.exe then it will appear in the ‘Location of item’ wizard like this:
Windows - create shortcut wizard 2
Notice that the entire path and file name is in double-quotes – that is important.
Next add some command switches so Outlook knows what to do. The command switches are outside the double-quotes:
For Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010: a space then /c ipm.note /a
For Outlook 2003 and before: a space then /c ipm.note
Note: Tuula from Finland says that the /a switch is needed to work with Outlook 2003. So you might want to try that if the above command line doesn't work for you.
Windows- create shortcut wizard 3
Now you can click the Next button for the final step.
The name for the shortcut will appear in the right-mouse menu. Give it any name you like.
Windows - create shortcut wizard 4
If you’d like the item to appear at the top of the menu list, use the old underscore trick ie “_Outlook Mail direct”.
Now test the new shortcut. If it doesn’t work check the settings carefully. Right-click on the shortcut in the \SendTo folder and choose Properties | Shortcut:
Windows - shortcut properties example
Check the Target line for the file path and switches.
Now you can choose a file and it’ll be attached to a blank outgoing email. Type in the recipients, subject and text of your choice. In all respects it’s a plain Outlook that you can send, save as a draft or cancel like any other message.
The shortcut only works for single files. If you select multiple files then use this shortcut you'll get an error message. The workaround is to create the email then drag and drop files into the email window to add them as attachments.
EXTRA: if you want to shorten the Send To menu, simply edit the \Send To folder mentioned above. I mean, how many of us send a file via Bluetooth or a fax recipient? Delete the unwanted shortcuts. More cautiously, move the shortcut extension to a another place (a folder called 'Old Send to links') so you can move it back if necessary.
Article posted: Thursday, 19 April 2012
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