Outlook Email Templates

2 ways to save time typing emails

Imagine you receive emails with questions like:

  • What is your policy on returns and exchanges?
  • How do I get to your facility and what are your business hours?
  • What is the best way to cook a steak?
  • How do you create a hyperlink in Microsoft Word?

Now imagine getting one of these questions ten times a week.  You would go mad trying to write the same response every time.

Eventually, you would start copy/pasting from older emails.  But what if you couldn’t find one of those older emails?

This post showcases two methods of creating pre-written responses for use in Microsoft Outlook that can be inserted into an email with a single click

These will no doubt save many hours of repetitive work, but also help maintain your sanity.

There are two methods available to us that allow saved reply templates to be used in Outlook email messages.

  • The free My Templates add-in
  • The Quick Parts feature

My Templates Add-In

The templates created using the My Templates add-in are stored in your mailbox account.  This allows them to be used on different devices or even the Web version of Outlook.

Having said that, this means that your Outlook account must reside on a Microsoft Exchange server.  More personal level email accounts like POP and IMAP accounts are not supported.

The My Templates add-in is available for users of Outlook 2013 and later.

Checking for Availability

To see if you can use the My Templates add-in, open Outlook and select the Home ribbon and click Get Add-ins located at the far right of the Ribbon.

Under the section labeled “My Add-ins”, the My Templates add-in will be listed if available.

If you feel you qualify for this add-in but do not see it listed, running an update on Microsoft Office will likely solve the issue.

Using the My Templates Add-in

To use the My Templates add-in, when replying to a message, select the Message tab to locate the View Templates button located on the far right of the Ribbon.

Clicking the View Templates button will reveal the My Templates library of stored templates.

The tool comes equipped with several sample responses.  You can delete these if they are not needed.

Hovering over an option will reveal a Delete button and an Edit button.

Clicking the template entry in the list will insert the stored text into the body portion of the email message.

Creating New Templates

To create a new template, click the “circle-plus” button at the bottom of the template preview list.

This opens a panel that allows for the naming of the template as well as the creation of the template content.

Unfortunately, you cannot change font styles, font colors, or add images or hyperlinks to the small entry window.

However, there IS a clever way around this limitation.

Open Microsoft Word and craft your response using any formatting or images, tables, or hyperlinks you wish.

Once crafted, select the response and press COPY, then return to Outlook and PASTE the response in the template window.

Click SAVE to add the newly crafted template to the Template Library.

Things to Be Aware Of

The My Templates add-in has a storage limit of 32KB (kilobytes).  If you create too many templates of sizable content, you will likely consume all available space quickly.  This may result in messages like the following.

If this occurs, you need to reduce the amount of saved content in the library.

Two Clicks and You’re Done

Think about it, two clicks and you have completed a response that would have taken valuable time out of your busy day.

These are not limited to email replies; you can also use them in new messages to save composition time.

Quick Parts

If you are feeling left out of the time-saving game because you don’t have an Exchange-based email account, an alternative is to use Outlook Quick Parts.

NOTE: This feature is also available in Microsoft Word and operates the same way as described for Outlook.

Quick Parts was introduced in Office 2007.  Quick Parts are used to store reusable pieces of text, such as notifications or common instructions.

Quick Parts entries can include:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Tables
  • Cosmetic formatting

The Catch

Quick Parts are only available to use on the computer they were created.  I will demonstrate later how to transfer your Quick Parts to a different computer.

This is ideal if you are upgrading your computer and don’t want to lose all your wonderful Quick Parts creations.

Creating a Quick Part

You can create a response in a new email message or select an existing block of text from an archived message.

  1. Highlight the desired text
  2. Select Insert (tab) -> Text (group) -> Quick Parts.

When clicked, the button reveals the Quick Parts Library.  This displays all existing Quick Parts along with the option to “Save Selection to Quick Parts Gallery…

If we click to save a new selection, The Create New Building Block dialog box allows us to define a name for the Quick Part.

Click OK to save the new Quick Part.

Using Quick Parts

To use a saved Quick Part, click in the body text portion of the email message and select Insert (tab) -> Text (group) -> Quick Parts.

In the displayed list of saved Quick Parts, click the preview window of the needed Quick Part.  This will insert the saved content into your mail message.

Accessing Quick Parts via the Quick Access Toolbar

If you find yourself becoming an avid user of Quick Parts, consider adding the feature to your Quick Access Toolbar.

This is a simple process that only requires you right-click the Quick Parts button and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”.

You can now easily access the wonderful world of Quick Parts regardless of what Ribbon you may be using.

“Ain’t nobody got time for pushing buttons!”

If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, a super-cool way to insert a Quick Part is to type the name of the Quick Part into your email and press the F3 key.  This technique utilized the Auto-Complete feature of Outlook.

If your Quick Parts have unique names, you can shortcut this already amazingly fast process by typing the first few letters of the Quick Part’s name and press the F3 key.  As long as you supply enough letters to arrive at uniqueness in the name, the F3 key/Auto-Complete feature should be able to figure things out correctly.

Going Beyond Simple Text

The Quick Parts building blocks can store almost anything you can create in an email.  Selections can include images, tables, hyperlinks, etc.

* Not part of the Quick Part

Backing Up Your Quick Parts Library

It would be a shame to lose your library of Quick Parts if your hard drive were to crash, your laptop is stolen, or you find yourself using a new computer.

The Quick Parts creations are stored in a file named “NormalEmail.dotm” that is saved in a folder location named “%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Templates”.

To backup your Quick Parts library, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Windows File Explorer.
  2. In the Location Bar, type the following folder location:

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Templates

This will display the contents of the Templates folder where the NormalEmail.dotm file exists.

You can copy this file to a thumb drive, upload to network/cloud-based storage, or email it to yourself for safekeeping.

If you need to restore the Quick Parts library to a new computer, just repeat the steps above to navigate to the Templates folder and paste the file into the folder.

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