This article provides an overview of programming Outlook using Automation from another program.
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Automation allows one program to control another program by either issuing commands or retrieving information programmatically. You can use the code examples in this article in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Visual Basic, or any other program that supports Automation.
Early vs. Late Binding
You can use either "early" or "late" binding to start an Automation session. Late binding uses either the GetObject
function to initialize Outlook. For example, the following code sets an object to the Outlook program, which is the highest level object in the Outlook object model. All Automation code must first define an Outlook.Application
object in order to access any of the other Outlook objects below that.
Dim objOL as ObjectSet objOL = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
To use early binding, you first need to reference the available Outlook object library. To do this from Visual Basic (VB) or Visual Basic for Applications, follow these steps:
- In the Visual Basic Editor, on the Tools menu, click References.
- Click to select the Microsoft Outlook 9.0 Object Library check box, and then click OK.
The object library file is Msoutl9.olb and installs to the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office folder by default. Once you reference the Outlook object library, you can use the following syntax to start an Outlook session:
Set ol = New Outlook.Application
Using early binding has two important advantages. First, code using early binding runs faster than code using late binding (CreateObject/GetObject). Second, because you reference the Outlook object library, you can get online Outlook programming help using the object browser and Help system.
The Outlook Object Model
The Outlook object model allows you to manipulate data stored in Outlook folders. New features in Outlook also allow you to manipulate the Outlook Bar, work with selected items in a folder, and manipulate both item-level and application-level windows. By adding events, your code can respond to many things that occur in Outlook, allowing you to create an event-driven solution.
However, you will find that compared to Word and Excel, there is limited functionality available to control Outlook itself. Many features of Outlook are not exposed or customizable through the Outlook object model. For example, you cannot use the object model to change the Options
settings on the Tools
menu, although a new feature in Outlook is that you can can create your own page in the Options
, or Folder Properties
: As a possible workaround to limitations regarding the object model, you can use the CommandBars
object provided by Microsoft Office to execute most commands that are assigned to either toolbar buttons or menu commands. For example, you can use the CommandBars
object to run the New Call
command, on the Dial
submenu of the Tools
menu, to bring up the New Call
Most programming solutions need to interact with the data stored in Outlook. Outlook stores all of its information in Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) folders. Therefore, after you set an object variable to Outlook.Application
, you will commonly set a Namespace
object to MAPI:
Set ol = New Outlook.ApplicationSet olns = ol.GetNamespace("MAPI")
Once you set the Namespace
object, you are ready to set the next object to a folder within the MAPI Namespace. One common way of doing this is by specifying the Outlook default folders, which are the folders at the same folder level as the Inbox that receives incoming e-mail. The following code will set the objFolder
object to the default Contacts folder:
Set ol = New Outlook.ApplicationSet olns = ol.GetNamespace("MAPI")Set objFolder = olns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderContacts)
For additional information about referencing other types of folders, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Programming examples for referencing items and folders
Once you are programmatically at the folder that contains the items you want to either use or create, you can use appropriate code to accomplish your programming task. See the examples later in the article for some common programming examples.
In addition to accessing Outlook data from another application, you can also have your application become aware of when certain events occur in Outlook. Examples of events are when an item is added to a folder, when the user selects a different item in the folder, or when an Outlook reminder is displayed. For a complete list of available events, see the Microsoft Outlook Visual Basic Reference (Vbaoutl9.chm). For information on obtaining the help file, see the References section in this article.
For an example of how you can integrate Outlook events in your application, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Using Outlook events in another program
Sample Code for Common Programming Tasks
Example: Create a New Default Task Item
Sub CreateNewDefaultOutlookTask() Dim ol As Outlook.Application Dim NewTask As Outlook.TaskItem ' Set the Application object. Set ol = New Outlook.Application ' Create a new standard task. Set NewTask = ol.CreateItem(olTaskItem) ' Display the new task form so the user can fill it out. NewTask.DisplayEnd Sub
Example: Create a New Contact Using a Custom Form
Sub CreateNewContactFromCustomForm() Dim ol As Outlook.Application Dim olns As Outlook.NameSpace Dim objFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder Dim AllContacts As Outlook.Items Dim NewContact As Outlook.ContactItem ' Set the Application object. Set ol = New Outlook.Application ' Set the Namespace object. Set olns = ol.GetNamespace("MAPI") ' Set the default Contacts folder. Set objFolder = olns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderContacts) ' Set objAllContacts equal to the collection of all contacts. Set AllContacts = objFolder.Items ' Add a new contact to the AllContacts collection using the ' "IPM.Contact.MyForm" form. Set NewContact = AllContacts.Add("IPM.Contact.MyForm") ' Display the new contact form. NewContact.DisplayEnd Sub
Example: Loop Through All the Default Contacts
Sub GetOutlookContacts() Dim ol As Object Dim olns As Object Dim objFolder As Object Dim objAllContacts As Object Dim Contact As Object ' Set the Application object. Set ol = New Outlook.Application ' Set the Namespace object. Set olns = ol.GetNamespace("MAPI") ' Set the default Contacts folder. Set objFolder = olns.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderContacts) ' Set objAllContacts equal to the collection of all contacts. Set objAllContacts = objFolder.Items ' Loop through each contact. For Each Contact In objAllContacts ' Display the Fullname field for the contact. MsgBox Contact.FullName NextEnd Sub