How to use command line switches to create a pre-addressed e-mail message in Outlook

For a Microsoft Outlook 2000 version of this article, see
197782 .
For a Microsoft Outlook 98 version of this article, see
181991 .
For a Microsoft Outlook 97 version of this article, see
172958 .


This article describes how to use command line switches to create a new e-mail message that is pre-addressed (with the To field filled in automatically). You can do this in one of the following ways:
  • Using a desktop shortcut.
  • Using the Shell command.

More Information

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How to use a desktop shortcut

To create a shortcut on your Windows desktop that automatically creates a new pre-addressed e-mail message, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click a blank area of your Windows desktop, point to New, and then click Shortcut.
  2. In the Command Line box, type the following
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\Outlook.exe" /c ipm.note /m <full e-mail name>
    In this command, <full e-mail name> is the complete e-mail address of the recipient (For example,

    NOTE: You may have to modify the path if you did not install Outlook to the default setup location.

  3. Type a name for the shortcut, for example, Mail to John Doe.
  4. Click Finish.
NOTE: If you want to use a custom form in your desktop shortcut, use its message class rather than IPM.Note. For example, if the custom form you want to use has a display name of "MyForm," (without quotation marks) then the message class should be IPM.Note.MyForm, and the following is the command used to create a message using the custom form:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe" /c ipm.note.myform /m <full e-mail name>

How to use the "Shell" command

To automatically create a new pre-addressed Outlook e-mail message by using the Shell command, follow these steps:
  1. Start Microsoft Word.
  2. On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Macros.
  3. In the Macro Name box, type SendMail, and then click Create.
  4. Type the following sample code in the Visual Basic for Applications editor
    Shell "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m <full e-mail name>"
    In this command, <full e-mail name> is the complete e-mail address of the recipient (for example,

  5. On the File menu, click Close and Return to Microsoft Word.
  6. On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Macros.
  7. In the Macro Name box, click to select SendMail, and then click Run. The SendMail macro creates a new e-mail message addressed to the recipient that you chose in step 4.
If Outlook is running, the e-mail message opens quickly. If Outlook is not running, there is a delay while the Windows Messaging System starts in the background.

NOTE: Using the Shell command is very restrictive. You can better automate the contents of a new e-mail message with Visual Basic for Applications or VBScript.

Single command-line string for a message with subject and body

NOTE: The procedures that are outlined in this section assume that the you are familiar with creating the type of objects listed in the implementation list.

In order to create a preformatted and pre-addressed e-mail message, it is necessary to build a command-line string with the following parameters:
mailto:<to email>?cc=<cc email>&bcc=<bcc
mail>&subject=<subject text>&body=<body text>
Where the following variable definitions apply:

Variable Field Entry
<to e-mail> e-mail address to appear in the To field
<cc mail> e-mail address to appear in the CC field
<bcc mail> e-mail address to appear in the BCC field
<subject> text to appear in the Subject field
<body text> text to appear in the Body of the message

Note the position of the question mark (?) and ampersand (&) characters in the command-line syntax.

In addition to the field designations, you must use ASCII hexadecimal equivalents as variables for punctuation characters. The following variables are used to represent commonly used characters:
Space ( ) %20
Comma (,) %2C
Question Mark (?) %3F
Period (.) %2E
Exclamation Point (!) %21
Colon (:) %3A
Semicolon (;) %3B
The following is an example of a command-line that populates the To, the Subject, and the Body fields in a new e-mail message:
This command-line yields the following information:
Recipient: Subject: Hello World! Body: How are you, John?

Uses of the Command line String

This command line string may be used in the following implementations:
  • In the Open box of Run command line.
  • In Properties of your desktop shortcut
  • In the Address Bar of Internet Explorer 4.0.
  • In the Subject line of an Outlook e-mail message.
  • In the body of an Outlook or Outlook Express e-mail message.
  • In the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) code of a Web page.

Article ID: 287573 - Last Review: Jan 31, 2007 - Revision: 1