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This article describes various methods that you can use to make a custom Outlook form more accessible to users.
Although this article primarily describes forms that are published in the Organizational Forms Library, you can apply the concepts in this article to forms that are published in the personal forms library.
Because of the way that Outlook is designed, if you want to open a custom form that is published to the Organizational Forms Library, you have to use the Choose Form window. However, you typically have to perform a few steps to gain access to this window. You may want to simplify the process to open forms.
You can make Outlook forms more accessible to users in a variety of ways. To use some of these methods, users just have to change the Outlook user interface. To use other methods, you have to develop custom solutions. You can deploy many of these methods.
Opening Forms in OutlookYou can use the following methods if you want users to open custom forms in Outlook.
Using the Default Menu CommandsBy default, users can open a form in the Organizational Forms Library by clicking the File menu, pointing to New, and then clicking Choose Form. You can also point to Forms on the Tools menu, and then click Choose Form. The disadvantages of using this method are:
Adding the "Choose Form" Command to a ToolbarTo make gaining access to the Choose Form window simpler, you can customize the toolbar by adding the Choose Form command to a toolbar:
Creating a Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications Macro SolutionYou can create an Outlook Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro to open a custom Outlook form. However, Outlook VBA is not designed to be deployed. Therefore, implement this solution for personal use only. For additional information about creating a VBA macro to open a form, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290803/EN-US/ )OL2002: How to Open a Form from a Toolbar Button
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/231174/EN-US/ )OL2000: How to Open a Form from a Toolbar Button
Creating a Component Object Model Add-in SolutionYou can create an Outlook Component Object Model (COM) add-in to add one or more custom toolbar buttons to open a form. You can also add form names directly to an Outlook menu, or even add a new top-level menu named Forms. The advantage of developing a COM add-in is that this is the supported way to deploy an Outlook solution. You must install and register the COM add-in on every computer.
For additional information about Outlook COM add-ins and how to create them, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/291163/EN-US/ )OL2002: How to Create a COM Add-in for Outlook
230225The following Microsoft Visual Basic version 6.0 sample code provides a basic outline of how to create a custom toolbar with a button to open a custom Task form. Copy this code in a Visual Basic Add-in project. For Microsoft Office XP, make sure that you reference the Microsoft Outlook 10.0 Object Library and the Microsoft Office 10.0 Object Library. For Microsoft Office 2000, make sure that you reference the Microsoft Outlook 9.0 Object Library and the Microsoft Office 9.0 Object Library.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/230225/EN-US/ )OL2000: How to Create a COM Add-in for Outlook
For additional information about how to programmatically reference other folders, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290804/EN-US/ )OL2002: Programming Examples for Referencing Items and Folders
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/208520/EN-US/ )OL2000: Programming Examples for Referencing Items and Folders
Opening Forms Outside OutlookYou can also use operating system features to start Outlook forms. Typically, use this method if you want to add icons to the Microsoft Windows desktop or add links to forms on the Windows Start menu.
Using Outlook ShortcutsOutlook supports various command-line switches. You can use one of these switches to specify a custom message class to open a form. You can create a shortcut to Outlook by using this command-line switch to open a form. You can do so even if Outlook is already running. For example, to open a custom mail message form called My Custom Form, use the following command-line switch:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\Outlook.exe" /c "IPM.Note.My Custom Form"For additional information about using command-line switches in Outlook, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/296192/EN-US/ )OL2002: Additional Command-Line Switches
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/197180/EN-US/ )OL2000: Additional Command-Line Switches
Using Outlook Template (.oft) FilesYou can save an Outlook form as an Outlook Template (.oft) file. Users can open the form by opening the .oft file from the file system. You can store the forms on a server and put shortcuts to the form on the users' desktops. Alternatively, you may want to put a shortcut to the folder that contains the form. Because these forms are not published, they are considered "one-off" forms. Using this approach may cause issues if you use Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) code in the forms:
For additional information about an overview of programming with CommandBars and a sample that shows how to programmatically add a toolbar button to open an Outlook form, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
201095For additional information about available resources and answersto frequently asked questions about Microsoft Outlook solutions, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/201095/EN-US/ )OL: How to Use CommandBars in Outlook Solutions
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287530/EN-US/ )OL2002: Questions About Custom Forms and Outlook Solutions
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/146636/EN-US/ )OL2000: Questions About Custom Forms and Outlook Solutions