Outlook & Windows – using formatting & email signatures with “Send To..”

This is just a quick post, which I hope help other people with something that’s been bugging me for a couple years until I finally tracked down a solution.

Background: the “Send to” command:

Since at least Windows 7, there has been a useful function in Windows that allows you to send files to various targets such as a fax  recipient (via a fax modem), a .ZIP file, folders like the Desktop, your Dropbox folder,  etc., with a single step. It’s particularly useful to email a file as an attachment: simply right-click the file in Windows Explorer or on the Desktop, and from the pop-up menu, choose “Send to → Mail recipient”:

It’s very convenient if you happen to be browsing files when you realize you need to send one: instead of having to leave that Explorer window, open Outlook, start a new message, then manually attach the file by clicking “Attach File” then browsing to it, which can take time if it’s buried deep in folders, you can do it in one step. You can, of course, speed this up a bit if you remember to copy the path to the file from the Explorer window before starting your email. You could even drag-and-drop the file from Explorer into the email, but at best that means taking time to arrange the windows onscreen so you can see both at once; or doing some precise mousing over the Taskbar while dragging the file, to get the proper Outlook email-composing window to show. Either way, it’s still slower, and, for me, can break my flow and train of thought.

You can also use the Send to option to first Zip up one or more files using the “Compressed (zipped) folder” target in the Send to menu (see image above), or, if you use 7-Zip, my favorite compression tool (it supports better, smaller compression methods and easy encryption), it’s accessible directly from the right-click menu of any file—you can see it, also, in my screenshot above. This can really speed things up if you need to email one or more compressed/encrypted files via email; it becomes a two-step process rather than a multi-step process involving multiple programs and windows.

The problem: where’s my font/stationery?

While I’ve been using this method since Windows 7, and it saves me time every single workday, it has one drawback when used with Microsoft Outlook: the resulting email is plain text: not formatted with any formatting you have previously set up in Outlook, not even the default font. It also ignores any Signature you may have set up. Not to mention the unnecessary boilerplate text, which is even worse in the plain-text font used:

Yuck.

Plus, your signature is missing. So either you take several minutes to delete/modify that text and figuring out a way to apply your usual formatting: font, etc., and existing email Signature (I’ve been too lazy/busy to try), or you give up and just add your name to the bottom of the email.

Neither way is optimal.

I’ve looked and looked in Outlook’s formatting and Signatures options, thinking there must be a way to set this, that I am just missing it. I’ve also spent time in the past checking Outlook documentation, Googling for a way to fix this, and asking other software developers if they know a way around it. I’ve even looked in Windows’ settings for email; but I’ve never gotten anything helpful…until today.

The solution?

I finally found this post on Robert Sparnaaij’s very useful MSOutlook.info site, which has a solution!  Though there is one minor wrinkle I found for my situation, with Windows 10, which I’ll address in the next paragraph.

Robert’s approach involves adding a custom Send to entry, a Shortcut pointing to the Outlook.exe file, to the Send to command, via the “Send to” directory/folder under your userName directory; then adding a command-line switch to the Shortcut’s Target to cause a new email-composing window to open. This method works perfectly, with one modification for Windows 10/Word 2013: when I followed his Windows 8-specific instructions exactly (since he write the post before Windows 10’s release), I was not able to modify the Desktop Shortcut’s target path to add the command-line switch. The textbox was grayed-out, disabled, and I was unable to enter text:

ShortcutCapture

A small but necessary tweak:

When I looked closely at the Shortcut’s properties, I realized what the issue was: the Desktop Shortcut his instructions had me create was pointing at the Start Menu Shortcut for Outlook, not the actual program file Outlook.exe. Fixing this was easy enough: I deleted the Shortcut from the Desktop, then went back to the folder opened in the previous step via the Open file location command. I then right-clicked the Outlook Shortcut and copied the path and filename from the Location field on the General tab. I then used that as the target when creating the Shortcut directly in the Send to folder, and added the command-line switch.

Success! Now I can right-click any file, and use my new Send to → Outlook recipient command. I get all my standard email formatting, and my email signatures; everything I’ve previously set up!

 

Not taking credit, just spreading the word:

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother writing up a post which is not much more than a pointer to someone else’s post; it seems there is even an entire industry out there which steals and “re-brands” the entire contents of other people’s blogs, without permission or apology! I would never want to even appear as though I was doing that. However, in this case, I’ve had so much trouble finding a solution to this issue, for such a long time, that I’ve decided to share this, and I’ve fully credited the original post at https://www.msoutlook.info. I also feel I’m adding a bit of value, albeit small, with my little workaround for Windows 10/Word 2013. I hope you find this as helpful as I did.

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