How to globally change the default forms in Outlook by using the Forms Administrator utility

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INTRODUCTION

This article discusses how you can use the Forms Administrator utility to set registry keys so that Microsoft Outlook uses a custom form instead of the default form. You can change the form for e-mail message forms, for contacts forms, and for tasks forms. Additionally, you can apply this form change to all folders in Outlook. Before you decide to change the default forms in Outlook, review the "Considerations and risk" section for the key points to consider.

More information

All versions of Outlook let you change the default form for a folder. This behavior lets you create a solution that is stored in a single folder as a relatively self-contained entity. However, Outlook does not let you set a custom e-mail message form as the default form for a folder. Therefore, because e-mail messages are typically stored in multiple folders, the ability to change the default form for a folder does not really apply to custom e-mail message forms.

Starting with Microsoft Outlook 2000, a feature was added that lets you specify a custom form that you can use instead of the default form. Although the main intent of this feature is to let you change the default e-mail message form, you can use this feature with other types of forms if you want a custom form that you can use in all Outlook folders.

The Forms Administrator utility has not been updated for Microsoft Office Outlook 2003. Additionally, the utility does not create the registry keys in the correct location for Outlook 2003. However, you can use the Forms Administrator utility to create a Microsoft Windows registry file that requires only minor changes to work with Outlook 2003.

For more information about how to use the Outlook 2000 Forms Administrator utility together with Outlook 2003, follow these steps:
  1. On the Help menu, click Microsoft Office Outlook Help.
  2. In the Assistance pane, click Table of Contents.
  3. Expand Outlook - Forms, and then expand Working with Forms.

Considerations and risks

The following list contains some key points to consider before you change the default forms in Outlook:
  • Although you can use the Forms Administrator utility for individual scenarios, the utility is primarily intended for use by large organizations and by those who are familiar with working with custom Outlook forms. There are many points to consider when you design custom Outlook forms.
  • You must consider each version of Outlook when you implement new default forms. The configuration of the registry keys varies depending on the version of Outlook that you are running. This article contains version-specific details.
  • Custom Outlook forms may not behave exactly like the Outlook default forms. This behavior occurs because of the nature of how custom forms work in Outlook. In Outlook, a custom form is not based on the exact form that Outlook uses. In particular, custom e-mail message forms pose the most issues. Therefore, if you change the Outlook default forms, you can experience major issues in some scenarios.

    This is especially true if the forms will be deployed to many users. The decision to change the Outlook default forms should not be taken lightly. We strongly recommend that you thoroughly test the effects of changing the Outlook default forms.
For more information about some custom form limitations, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
266428 Custom forms and programming limitations
294868 Custom forms and programming limitations


Additionally, for custom e-mail message forms, the following settings in a custom form override the global settings that you set in the Options dialog box:
  • Read and delivery receipts.
  • Message security settings, such as the Importance and Sensitivity options.
  • The Save Sent Message to option. Although there is no global setting to specify a certain folder, the boolean option of whether to save the e-mail message in the Sent Items folder will not work.
Typically, these settings would be unexpected behaviors if custom e-mail message forms are deployed in an organization.

Note Custom forms that have the Send the form definition with item option enabled are called "one-off" forms. Although these forms contain an embedded custom form, the message class of these items is the default message class for that type of item.

If you use the Forms Administrator utility to change the default message class, the items will no longer use the embedded form. Instead, the items will use the new default form. Therefore, as mentioned in the Forms Administrator utility documentation, replacing the default form causes one-off forms to no longer work.

For more information about one-off forms, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
207896 Working with form definitions and one-off forms
290657 Description of form definitions and one-off forms in Outlook 2002

Preview pane

Custom forms may not appear in the Preview pane or in the Reading pane. This behavior is based on the version of Outlook. In Outlook 2000, Outlook will preview items that are based on a custom form as long as the form does not contain Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) code.

In Microsoft Outlook 2002, the original release version of Outlook 2002 does not preview any item that is based on a custom form even if the form does not contain VBScript code. However, Microsoft Outlook 2002 Service Pack 3 (SP3) lets a new "Preview" registry key to be set to enable the preview of custom forms.

For more information about this fix, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
331788 "This item contains active content that cannot be displayed in the preview pane" error message, and certain custom forms are not displayed correctly in the Preview pane in Outlook 2002
Outlook 2003 behaves like Outlook 2000 when you preview items that are based on a custom form. Outlook 2003 will preview items that are based on a custom form as long as the form does not contain VBScript code. Additionally, the "Preview" registry key must be implemented. Otherwise, you may experience issues when you open the custom form while the Reading pane is active.

Although you can use the Forms Administrator utility with all kinds of Outlook items, it provides the most important functionality when you use it with e-mail messages. This is true because Outlook does not let you set a default form for an e-mail message folder. This means that incoming e-mail messages will always use the form that the original sender intended. By using the Forms Administrator utility, you can use a custom e-mail message form instead of the default form.

Although you can use the Forms Administrator utility with the Internet Mail Only (IMO) version of Outlook 2000 and for personal use, it is primarily intended for use by large organizations.

Note The Microsoft Outlook 2000 Forms Administrator Readme is located in the folder to which the downloaded file was extracted. The file is named the FormsAdminReadme.rtf file.

MailTo Protocol

If you replace the default e-mail message form (IPM.Note) with a custom form, the custom form will not be used when you open an e-mail message by using the MailTo protocol. To work around this limitation, you can change the properties of the MailTo protocol so that the custom form is opened. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Start Microsoft Windows Explorer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
  3. Click the File Types tab.
  4. In the group of entries that have no file name extension, click URL:MailTo Protocol, and then click Advanced.
  5. Select the Open action, and then click Edit.
  6. Change the action so that it specifies the message class of the custom form. For example, specify the following:
    "C:\Progra~1\Micros~4\Office11\Outlook.exe" -c IPM.Note.Custom \M "%1"
Note Using the Forms Administrator utility to change the default forms will not let you use custom forms even use one of the following procedures:
  • Select the Send ToMail Recipient option in Microsoft Windows.
  • Use the MailTo protocol.
These scenarios require additional configurations to make sure that the custom form is used.

The SendTo feature in the operating system

To use the SendTo feature in Windows, right-click a file, click Send To, and then click Mail Recipient in the File menu. However, you cannot use this feature for a custom form that was created by using the Forms Administrator utility. To work around this limitation, you can add a new Send To entry so that a user can use the custom form that was created by using the Forms Administrator utility.

Optionally, you can remove the existing Mail Recipient option in the Send To folder. The Send To folder is located in the following file system location:
C:\Documents and Settings\<USER PROFILE>\SendTo
Additionally, the Send To folder is a hidden system folder.

How to obtain the Forms Administrator utility

To implement this functionality, you can download the Forms Administrator utility that was designed for Outlook 2000. For more information about the Forms Administrator utility, go to the following Microsoft website:
New Tools for Outlook 2000 Available
Additionally, you can download the Forms Administrator utility from the following Microsoft website:
Microsoft Outlook Forms Administrator
Documentation for the Outlook 2000 Forms Administrator utility is located in the folder to which the downloaded file was extracted. The file is named "FormsAdminReadme.rtf."

About message classes

Before you work with the Form Administrator utility, understand how message classes work in Outlook. When you create and publish a custom form, the form is assigned a message class. This message class determines which form is associated with an item. The format of the name is "IPM.FormType.FormName."

Where the FormType placeholder is the type of form, and the FormName placeholder is the name of the custom form.

For example, you create a new e-mail message form that is named "Revised." Then, you publish this form to the Organizational Forms Library on the Microsoft Exchange Server. In this scenario, the message class is "IPM.Note.Revised."

The following table lists some of the more common names that are used for message classes.
Collapse this tableExpand this table
ItemDefault FolderDefault Message Class
MailInboxIPM.Note
AppointmentCalendarIPM.Appointment
ContactContactsIPM.Contact
TaskTasksIPM.Task
NoteNotesIPM.StickyNote
Journal EntryJournalIPM.Activity

If you are not using the Forms Administrator utility to create a custom form, an item must be created based on the custom form so that item can use the custom form. Therefore, the item will have a custom message class and will appear in a custom form.

Overview of the Forms Administrator Utility

The Form Administrator utility works on a different message class model. In its typical implementation, the registry keys that are set by the Forms Administrator utility prompt Outlook to use a custom form whenever a default message class is used. For example, an e-mail message in the Inbox may have a message class of IPM.Note. However, Outlook will use a custom form (message class) when you open the e-mail message.

In order to replace the forms using the Forms Administrator Utility, you must use the following top-level steps:
  1. Develop the custom form.
  2. Publish the custom form so that all Outlook users have access to it. If Outlook is used in a Microsoft Exchange environment, the form should be published to the Organizational Forms Library so that users have access to the form. Another less desired option would be to develop a means to publish the form into the Personal Forms Library for all the users.

    For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    257796 How to determine where to publish a form
    290802 How to determine where to publish a custom Outlook form
  3. Deploy the appropriate registry keys that instruct Outlook to use the custom forms instead of the default forms.

Deploying the registry keys in different Outlook versions

Outlook 2000

The Forms Administrator Utility was designed for Outlook 2000. After you download the utility, see the documentation that is included with the Readme file.

Outlook 2002

The Forms Administrator utility has not been updated for Outlook 2002. Additionally, the utility does not create the registry keys in the correct location for Outlook 2002. However, you can use the Forms Administrator utility to create a Windows Registry file that requires only minor changes to work with Outlook 2002.

To use a Windows Registry file to change the default form in Outlook 2002, follow these steps:
  1. Run the Forms Administrator utility, and then change the settings as you would for Outlook 2000.
  2. Click Save to save the registry settings on your computer. Now, the Export Saved Settings button is available.
  3. Click Export Saved Settings to save a Windows Registry (.reg) file.
  4. Open the .reg file in a text editor, such as Notepad.
  5. The registry key paths reference 9.0. 9.0 is the location for Outlook 2000 registry settings. Change all the references from 9.0 to 10.0. 10.0 is where Outlook 2002 stores registry settings.
  6. Save the .reg file.
To change a default form in Outlook 2002, run the .reg file on the computer so that the keys are added to the Windows Registry.

Note Outlook 2002 also includes additional restrictions on viewing the contents of custom forms in the Preview pane. In Outlook 2000, you cannot preview custom forms that contain VBScript code. However, you cannot preview any custom forms by default, in Outlook 2002. More control over previewing custom forms is provided in Outlook 2002 SP3.

If you are using Outlook 2002 SP3 or a later version of Outlook 2002, you can also add a "Preview" registry key so that Outlook will preview a custom form as long as it does not contain VBScript code.

Important The ability to preview a custom form without VBScript code in it will only work in the scenario where you change the default form by using registry keys. Setting the Preview registry key by itself will not change the Preview behavior.

For more information about how to set the Preview registry key, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
331788 "This item contains active content that cannot be displayed in the preview pane" error message, and certain custom forms are not displayed correctly in the Preview pane in Outlook 2002

Note If you used the Forms Administrator utility to change the default forms in Outlook 2000, and you then upgrade to Outlook 2002, Microsoft Office or Outlook Setup migrates the registry keys to the correct location so that Outlook 2002 continues to use the substituted forms.
Outlook 2003

The Forms Administrator utility has not been updated for Outlook 2003, and does not create the registry keys in the correct location for Outlook 2003. However, you can use the Forms Administrator utility to create a Windows Registry file that requires only minor changes to work with Outlook 2003. To use a Windows Registry file to change the default form in Outlook 2003, follow these steps:
  1. Run the Forms Administrator utility, and then change the settings as you would for Outlook 2000.
  2. Click Save to save the registry settings on your computer. Now, the Export Saved Settings button is available.
  3. Click Export Saved Settings to save a Windows Registry (.reg) file.
  4. Open the .reg file in a text editor, such as Notepad.
  5. The registry key paths reference 9.0. 9.0 is the location for Outlook 2000 registry settings. Change all the references from 9.0 to 11.0. 11.0 is where Outlook 2003 stores registry settings.
  6. Save the .reg file.
To change a default form for Outlook 2003, run the .reg file on the computer so that the keys are added to the Windows Registry.

The Reading Pane in Outlook 2003 was designed to display custom forms as they were in Outlook 2000. Therefore, you do not have to deploy the Preview registry key as you do with Outlook 2002 SP3 or later versions of Outlook 2002.

Note If you used the Forms Administrator utility to change the default forms in Outlook 2000 or in Outlook 2002, and you then upgrade to Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office or Outlook Setup migrates the registry keys to the correct location so that Outlook 2003 continues to use the substituted forms.

Properties

Article ID: 241235 - Last Review: September 3, 2013 - Revision: 2.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
Keywords: 
kbinfo KB241235

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