Eugene Astafiev

How To: Create a new Outlook message based on a template

In my previous article, where I demonstrated how to create and show an Outlook message programmatically, a mail item object was created from scratch. Now I want to show you the way to create a new mail item based on a template. So, here goes!

The Application class in Outlook provides you the CreateItemFromTemplate method. It creates a new Outlook item based on the specified template and returns the newly created Outlook item. The CreateItemFromTemplate method accepts two parameters:

  • Path to a template (a .oft file) – a string showing the path (including its name) to the template on which you will base your new Outlook item.
  • Folder object – the folder into which a newly created item will be placed. This parameter is optional. If it is omitted, the default folder for the item type will be used (for instance, the Drafts folder is used if you create a new item based on the mail item template).

As you probably noticed, you need to have a .oft file saved somewhere on your hard drive to get the CreateItemFromTemplate method running correctly. For example, I saved it on drive D. Note that you can save an existing e-mail item as a template using the File | Save As… command in Outlook. You just need to choose the "Outlook Template" in the “Save as type” list box of the “Save As” dialog. Alternatively, you can do the same programmatically by specifying the Outlook.OlSaveAsType.olTemplate value in the SaveAs method of Outlook items.

Note. In my tests against Outlook 2010, I tried to pass the path to a .msg file to the CreateItemFromTemplate method and it worked like a charm. So, you can use .msg and .oft files as templates.

I want to draw your attention to the following fact: when you create a new item based on the Mail template and specify any folder other than Drafts, the Drafts folder will be used anyway. So, in the code of this sample I move a newly created item to the Inbox folder even when I specify the Inbox folder as the parent folder in the CreateItemFromTemplate method.

Below you can find the code that creates Outlook items as described above. For illustration purposes I create a MailItem object and then display it to the user. You just need to pass an instance of the Application class to the CreateItemBasedOnTemplate method to get the code running.

C# and Add-in Express:

private void CreateItemBasedOnTemplate(Outlook._Application OutlookApp)
{
    Outlook.NameSpace ns = null;
    Outlook.MAPIFolder containerFolder = null;
    Outlook.MailItem item = null;
    Outlook.MailItem movedItem = null;
    try
    {
        ns = OutlookApp.GetNamespace("MAPI");
        containerFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(Outlook.OlDefaultFolders.olFolderInbox);
        item = OutlookApp.CreateItemFromTemplate(@"D:\MyTemplate.oft", containerFolder) 
            as Outlook.MailItem;
        // the item was created in the Drafts folder regardless
        // that is why we move it to the Inbox folder
        movedItem = item.Move(containerFolder) as Outlook.MailItem;
        movedItem.Save();
        movedItem.Display();
    }
    catch (COMException ex)
    {
        if (ex.ErrorCode == -2147287038)
            System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
                "Can't find the template...");
        else
            System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
                 "An error was occurred when creating a new item from template...");
    }
    finally
    {
        if (movedItem != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(movedItem);
        if (item != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(item);
        if (containerFolder != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(containerFolder);
        if (ns != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(ns);
    }
}

VB.NET and Add-in Express:

Private Sub CreateItemBasedOnTemplate(OutlookApp As Outlook._Application)
    Dim ns As Outlook.NameSpace = Nothing
    Dim containerFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder = Nothing
    Dim item As Outlook.MailItem = Nothing
    Dim movedItem As Outlook.MailItem = Nothing
    Try
        ns = OutlookApp.GetNamespace("MAPI")
        containerFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(Outlook.OlDefaultFolders.olFolderInbox)
        item = OutlookApp.CreateItemFromTemplate("D:\MyTemplate.oft", containerFolder)
        ' the item was created in the Drafts folder regardless
        ' that is why we move it to the Inbox folder
        movedItem = item.Move(containerFolder)
        movedItem.Save()
        movedItem.Display()
    Catch ex As COMException
        If (ex.ErrorCode = -2147287038) Then
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "Can't find the template...")
        Else
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "An error was occurred when creating a new item from template...")
        End If
    Finally
        If Not IsNothing(movedItem) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(movedItem)
        If Not IsNothing(item) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(item)
        If Not IsNothing(containerFolder) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(containerFolder)
        If Not IsNothing(ns) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(ns)
    End Try
End Sub

C# and VSTO:

using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
// ...
private void CreateItemBasedOnTemplate(Outlook.Application Application)
{
    Outlook.NameSpace ns = null;
    Outlook.MAPIFolder containerFolder = null;
    Outlook.MailItem item = null;
    Outlook.MailItem movedItem = null;
    try
    {
        ns = Application.GetNamespace("MAPI");
        containerFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(Outlook.OlDefaultFolders.olFolderInbox);
        item = Application.CreateItemFromTemplate(@"D:\MyTemplate.oft", containerFolder) 
            as Outlook.MailItem;
        // the item was created in the Drafts folder regardless
        // that is why we move it to the Inbox folder
        movedItem = item.Move(containerFolder) as Outlook.MailItem;
        movedItem.Save();
        movedItem.Display();
    }
    catch (COMException ex)
    {
        if (ex.ErrorCode == -2147287038)
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "Can't find the template...");
        else
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "An error was occurred when creating a new item from template...");
    }
    finally
    {
        if (movedItem != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(movedItem);
        if (item != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(item);
        if (containerFolder != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(containerFolder);
        if (ns != null) Marshal.ReleaseComObject(ns);
    }
}

VB.NET and VSTO:

Imports System.Runtime.InteropServices
' ...
Private Sub CreateItemBasedOnTemplate(Application As Outlook.Application)
    Dim ns As Outlook.NameSpace = Nothing
    Dim containerFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder = Nothing
    Dim item As Outlook.MailItem = Nothing
    Dim movedItem As Outlook.MailItem = Nothing
    Try
        ns = Application.GetNamespace("MAPI")
        containerFolder = ns.GetDefaultFolder(Outlook.OlDefaultFolders.olFolderInbox)
        item = Application.CreateItemFromTemplate("D:\MyTemplate.oft", containerFolder)
        ' the item was created in the Drafts folder regardless
        ' that is why we move it to the Inbox folder
        movedItem = item.Move(containerFolder)
        movedItem.Save()
        movedItem.Display()
    Catch ex As COMException
        If (ex.ErrorCode = -2147287038) Then
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "Can't find the template...")
        Else
           System.Windows.Forms.MessageBox.Show(ex.Message,
               "An error was occurred when creating a new item from template...")
        End If
    Finally
        If Not IsNothing(movedItem) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(movedItem)
        If Not IsNothing(item) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(item)
        If Not IsNothing(containerFolder) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(containerFolder)
        If Not IsNothing(ns) Then Marshal.ReleaseComObject(ns)
    End Try
End Sub

See you on our forums and in the e-mail support!

You may also be interested in:

How to: Create a Mail Item by Using a Message Template

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