Outlook has a custom URL protocol that allows interaction with different elements such as folders, mail and calendar items and contacts, Since Outlook 2007, this has been restricted for use only within Outlook itself but there are some tremendous opportunities for use from simple web systems. This post explains how to turn it on, even for Outlook 2013 (Office 365 version). It also gives pointers to other articles on how to use the protocol.
Update 2018-04-24: Having changed roles at the start of 2017, I am no longer getting quite the volume of email that I used to. So I no longer need to manage my email in quite the same way. However, the Outlook URL protocol handler remains very useful, especially when creating To Do lists in other tools and linking back to Outlook emails.
One of the nice features about older versions of Microsoft Outlook was that it had a set of URL Protocol Handlers (like outlook:inbox) defined that could be used system wide to trigger actions in Outlook such as opening a folder, creating or editing an item.
Unfortunately, along the way, these got gradually toned down so that they only worked from within Outlook itself.
This can still be useful. I’m not sure how many people realise that you can create “folders” in your Outlook mailbox. Choose
Properties .../Home Page and set a URL – maybe your blog or Intranet. Now when you click on the folder, you will see the web page instead of a set of mail items or whatever.
When using this feature to do some more clever stuff such as creating To Do lists from incoming mail, you might choose to use a dynamic web system to handle the list. CouchDB or Node.JS are lightweight web systems that come to mind.
Then you might find yourself wishing that you could create links in your To Do system back to the original email in Outlook. Well you can! Sort of.
It turns out that, although the external use of the Outlook: protocol hasn’t been available since Outlook 2003, it can still be turned on, even in Outlook 2013. There is a useful article on the TeamScope web site that shows you how to turn on the outlook: protocol system-wide.
One minor wrinkle though if you use Office from an Office 365 subscription – the location for Microsoft Office applications is different! You will find them at:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 15\root\office15.
Here then is the registry code that you need to enable the protocol:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\outlook] "URL Protocol"="" @="URL:Outlook Folders" [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\outlook\DefaultIcon] @="\"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office 15\\root\\office15\\OUTLOOK.EXE\"" [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\outlook\shell] @="open" [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\outlook\shell\open] @="" [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\outlook\shell\open\command] @="\"C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office 15\\root\\office15\\OUTLOOK.EXE\" /select \"%1\""
Simply save this into a
.reg file and open it to install the changes.
Now you can use the outlook: protocol anywhere on the system, great for dynamic web systems. One minor word of warning though – there are dangers! Don’t open links unless you know what they are, where they go and what they do!
To find out how to use the Outlook protocol handler, try one of the following articles:
- Slipstick: Using Outlook Links – articles on Slipstick are always useful and knowledgeable.
- What’s new for Outlook 2013 developers
- How to hyperlink to Microsoft Outlook messages