Robbie mostly writes about Skyrim but also occasionally sheds light on the oddities of Microsoft applications such as Excel and Outlook.
In this article, I will be looking at using templates in Excel to send emails. Templates are a great time-saving feature that will save you a lot of time and effort. Most of us get numerous requests for the same information over and over again. Rather than typing the same answers to the same queries time after time, templates allow you to quickly send the same information in an email without having to retype it all. When using a template, all you need to do is to address it, personalise it and then click send!
I used templates heavily when I worked on an IT Service Desk. Each time users needed assistance in finding their IP address, their computer name, adding a printer or other frequently asked requests they received a personalised copy of my template email. This saved me tonnes of time and allowed me to perform my job much more efficiently and to help far more people than I would have otherwise been able to help. The same will apply to any profession where you receive a large number of similar queries, such as sales, insurance, banking and so on.
There are a number of ways to access and use templates:
- You can save them in your Outlook as a form
- They can be saved in a folder either in your mailbox or a shared mailbox
- Templates can be saved on your computer as files
- You can pin them to your Taskbar
The Difference Between a Template (*.oft) and a Message (*.msg) in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
First let’s look at the variety of formats you can save your emails in. When saving an email in Outlook, you are given a number of options of formats you can save the email in.
|File Type||File Extension||Characteristic|
saves the email as plain text without any formatting
HTML and MHT
.htm, .html and .mht
allows you to save an email as a website which maintains the formatting of the email which will open in an Internet Browser
Outlook Message Format
allows you to save an email so that it looks exactly like the email you just saved and will open in Outlook should you double-click on it
Outlook Message Format – Unicode
looks identical to a message file, but adds support to Unicode email systems
creates an editable copy of an email which can then be saved and resent
Because we are creating a template, we will save our message and choose the *.oft format. Below, you can see the difference between an Outlook message and a template (the top email is a message and the bottom a template).
The primary difference is that a template is editable, whereas a message is a copy of an email and cannot be changed.
Creating a Template in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
To create a new template:
- Create a New message
- Type in the text that you want to appear in the template
You can see my example template below
- Now, save the email as a template by clicking the Office button and selecting Save As
- Select Save as type and choose Outlook Template (*.oft)
- Choose the location you wish to save it to
- Click Save and your email is now saved outside Outlook
How to Use a Template in Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
There are three ways to use a template in Outlook.
- The first is to double click the file itself from Windows Explorer (or select it from the Task bar)
- The second is to access it via the Forms within Outlook
- Finally, the template can be used from within Outlook (stored in a folder)
Let’s look at these three methods in turn
Accessing a Template From Windows Using Windows Explorer or Pinning It to the Taskbar
- To use a template in Windows Explorer, navigate to the file and simply double click it. You will now be able to add a Sender and any customisation before sending the email out.
- If you would like to pin it to your Task Bar, drag the template down to your Task bar onto your Outlook and it will be pinned as mine is to the right. If your Outlook is not pinned to your Task bar, simply right click on the Outlook icon on the Task bar when it is open and select Pin to Task bar.
Accessing a Template via Forms in Outlook
When you save an email and choose Outlook Template (*.oft) as the Save as type, Outlook will default to a template folder as you can see from the figure below (you will see your user name rather than a blank on your computer).
- Click on Tools
- Select Forms and then Choose a Form
- Select User Templates in File System in Look In
You can see my template selected in the figure below (you will see your username rather than a blank on your screen):
- Click Open and your template will open
To access templates in Outlook 2010
- Navigate to the Home tab
- Check New Items
- Select More Items and then Choose Form
The final method of working with templates is to save them to a folder. This method is perfect if you need to send a very similar email to the same recipients regularly.
To use an example, say that your department (the Service Desk) has a Start of Day report that is sent out every day to the same people. You want this to look exactly the same in terms of formatting every day. Your team will send it each day and use the template as the basis for the email.
First, create the template as before.
- Save the email as a Template (*.oft) to a folder on your computer
- Browse to the file you have just created and rename the extension of the file from *.oft to *.msg
- Click Yes on the Rename warning dialogue box
- Ensure that the From: and To: or BCC: fields are correct
- Save the email once more
- Now, drag and drop the email into the appropriate folder in your Outlook
Now, we have the email saved in a folder. This folder can either be in your own Outlook, or stored in a folder on a shared mailbox.
I can then prepare the Start of Day report based on the template and then click Send
The template email will remain in the Template folder ready for use tomorrow and subsequent days!
Modifying an Existing Template for Use in Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010
The tricky part when using templates is modifying them when they are in Outlook itself. If you saved the template to Windows, you can simply go in, edit it, save it and you are done.
If your template is stored in Outlook, you must follow the steps above and add any edits to your template that you would like at step 4, otherwise you will end up either losing all your changes, or worse you will be unable to save it back to Outlook as a template. Simply follow the steps carefully and you will be just fine!
Wrapping It All Up
Templates are an excellent time-saving device in Outlook. If you ever find yourself sending similar or even identical emails to people over and over again, you should consider using a template.
In this article:
- First, we looked at the various file types you can save your emails in
- Then we looked at how to create an actual template
- Next, we examined three ways to use templates (in Windows Explorer, via Forms in Outlook and finally storing templates in a folder in Outlook itself)
- We also looked at pinning your template to your Taskbar to allow you quick access to your saved templates
I hope that you have found this article interesting and informative and that you are now using templates in your daily work to save time which will allow you to get more done and also answer common queries and send reports out faster than ever before. Many thanks for reading, please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Robbie C Wilson