Email templates give you faster messages in Outlook

For emails that you send regularly, there’s a way to have a ‘boilerplate’ email template with most of the details already filled in.  Messages can be sent faster and be more consistent.  Welcome to the little-known world of Outlook email templates.

Outlook email templates can have all the message details completed including To: CC: BCC:, Subject and Message Body. It’s a real timesaver for regularly sent messages which have mostly the same details each time. Outlook templates are very different from Themes which are merely fancy designs to decorate emails.

We’ll explain how to make an email template, the places to save a template, editing an existing template and using it to make a new message.

For example, a weekly report that looks like this …

Can be quickly made from a template like this ….

Many people do this by copying from a past message but an email template can be pre-populated with the people to get the message (To, CC or BCC) and the message subject (which can be important if receivers use Rules to handle the regular message).

Make a new message with an email template

Never seen Outlook template?  That’s no surprise because they are many levels deep in the Outlook menu. Home | New Items | More Items | Choose Form …

Then ‘Look in’, ‘User Templates in file system’ and finally choose a template.

Select a template and it’ll open as a new message pre-filled. All you have to do is update the text to suit and click send.

Make an email template

Start a new message as usual.  Complete all the details including To:, CC:, BCC: , subject and message body.

You might like to highlight items that need to be changed each time the message is sent.

Email templates can’t save attachments.

Instead of choosing ‘Send’ go to File | Save As then change the file type to ‘Outlook Template (*.oft)’ that will switch the folder to Outlook’s default location for templates.

The File Name is usually the name that appears in the Open template selection list.

Save the template.

Now it’ll appear in the list of templates.

Editing an email template

There’s no way to directly choose an email template to edit from within Outlook.  You have to find the .oft file in Explorer then open the file for editing.

Go to Home | New Items | More Items | Choose Form | User Templates in File System.  Select the file path and press Ctrl + C to clipboard copy.  Now switch to Windows Explorer, paste into the path box.

You can see the .oft files listed there, plus the NormalEmail.dotm used by Outlook for new blank messages.

Double-click on the .oft file or right-click and choose Open.  It’ll open in Outlook.

Make the changes you want then Save the revised template.

Personal Forms Library

Another and maybe better place to save email templates is the Personal or Organization Forms Library.  It’s Microsoft’s recommended place for Outlook forms and templates.

Save/Publish an email template via the Developer tab (Customize the Ribbon if it’s not showing).

Make a new message, complete all the details but instead of File | Save As (or Send) choose Developer | Form | Publish | Publish Form As …

That opens the Publish Form As … dialog. Choose Look in: Personal Forms Library (or other library that might be available in an organization).

Add a Display name and choose Publish.

Now the email template appears in Home | New Items | More Items | Choose Form | Look in | Personal Forms Library.

Email template limitations

Naturally, there are limitations to Outlook email templates.  Primarily they are Outlook for Windows only with no cross-platform support.

No replies or forward

Email templates are for new messages only.

You can’t use a template/form to save standard replies or forwarding of messages.

The partial alternative is Quick Parts or AutoText but that’s for message text only, it can’t include addresses or attachments.

Outlook for Mac

Outlook for Windows email templates are NOT useable on Outlook for Mac … or vice-versa.

Outlook mobile or on the web

Similarly, there’s no support for templates or forms in Outlook mobile apps or Outlook in a web browser.

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