This article describes how to programmatically access the contents of bothstandard and custom keywords fields in Microsoft Outlook using MicrosoftVisual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript). Concepts in this article also apply to solutions based in Visual Basic or Visual Basic for Applications.
Outlook items can contain information that is stored in a keywords format.The format is typically used to represent a grouped list of informationsuch as company names and categories. For example, you might want to use akeywords field to store a list of companies that a salesperson isresponsible for.
However, keywords fields are most commonly associated withthe standard Categories
field, which is available on all Outlook forms. This field is used to categorize items even though they are not stored in the same location.
Standard Keywords Fields
Outlook provides three standard keywords fields.
Field name Forms available in: ---------- ------------------- Categories All Companies Contact, Task, Task Request, Journal Entry Children Contact NOTE
: Task items also have a Contacts keywords field, but this field is read-only and therefore cannot be used in solutions.
When accessing these standard keywords fields through the Outlook objectmodel, they are treated like a standard text field. For example, if theCategories
selected for a contact are Personal
, Phone Calls
, and Waiting
, the following line of VBScript code will set the MyCategories variable equal to the entire list of categories:
MyCategories = Item.Categories
You can use the VBScript Split
function to assign individual elements of the field to an array variable. The following sample code takes the three keywords and places them into the first three elements of array MyArray:
' Chr(44) is the ANSI value of a comma.' Chr(32) is the ANSI value of a space.' Together, this is the delimiter for a keywords field.MyArray = Split(Item.Categories, Chr(44) & Chr(32))MsgBox MyArray(0)MsgBox MyArray(1)MsgBox MyArray(2)
User-Defined (Custom) Keywords Fields
It is not possible to directly modify the contents of a user-definedkeyword field using VBScript. Outlook uses a different variation of arraydata type than that supported by VBScript, and therefore a "Type mismatch"error message will appear if you try to display the text of the field in amessage box, assign the field to an array variable, or perform anystring-related function on it.
For example, if you create a keywords field called MyKeywords, thefollowing two lines of code will both generate a "Type mismatch" errormessage:
MsgBox Item.UserProperties.Find("MyKeywords").ValueItem.UserProperties.Find("MyKeywords").Value = "New Text"
The simplest way to work around this limitation is by accessing the textvia a control or by using a standard keywords field.
Accessing the Text Via a Control
You can work around this limitation by "filtering" the text through acontrol. For example, you can place a text box (Textbox1) on a form page(P.2
) and bind this text box to a user-defined keywords field (MyKeywords).The following steps create sample code that adds the word "New" to thebeginning of the MyKeywords field.NOTE
: If you do not want to display the text box used to gain access to the keywords text, you can right-click the text box, click Properties
, and clear the Visible
property on the Display
tab of the Properties
- Open a new, standard mail message.
- On the Tools menu, point to Forms and then click Design This Form.
- Click the message area of the form to select the message control, then drag the top of the control down to make room for additional controls.
- In the Field Chooser, click New.
- In the New Field window, type MyKeywords in the Name box, click Keywords in the Type list, and then click OK.
- Drag the MyKeywords field from the Field Chooser to the blank area above the message control.
- From the Toolbox, drag a command button (CommandButton) to the form.
- On the Form menu, click View Code.
- Type the following code into the Script Editor, then close the editor:
Sub Commandbutton1_Click() Set MyPage = Item.GetInspector.ModifiedFormPages("Message") Set MyControl = MyPage.Controls("TextBox1") MyControl.Value = Now() & ", " & MyControl.Value MsgBox MyControl.ValueEnd Sub
- On the Form menu, click Run This Form.
- Click the command button to run the VBScript code. A new date will be added to the keywords field every time the command button is clicked. Note that Outlook will automatically remove the extra comma at the end of the field when the focus is moved off of the field or when the item is saved.
Using a Standard Keywords Field
If you are not using one of the standard keywords fields in a form, such as the Categories field, then you can use that field to gain access to the text in the field. You can temporarily assign the value of your custom keywords field to the standard field, modify the text while it is in the standard field, assign the standard field back to your custom keywords field, and then delete the contents of the standard field you temporarily used. The following sample code provides an overview of this process:
' Assign the custom keywords field (MyKeywords) to Categories.Item.Categories = Item.UserProperties.Find("MyKeywords")' Modify the field.Item.Categories = "New " & Item.Categories' Display the modified field.MsgBox Item.Categories' Replace the modified field.Item.UserProperties.Find("MyKeywords") = Item.Categories' Reset the Categories field.Item.Categories = ""