How do I create and use email templates in Outlook?


If you send 'canned' emails a lot, you may choose to create some pre-defined email templates to make your life a bit easier. This is how you do it in Outlook 2013.

Create an email template

  1. Start a new message in Outlook (keyboard shortucut Ctrl+Shift+M)
  2. Fill out the subject and the body of the email
  3. Go to FILE backstage and choose Save As
  4. Save the message as a template
    1. Note that Outlook will automatically switch you to the default Templates location. You can save the template there - just note the path so you can navigate to it in a later step
    2. Alternatively, you may save the template to a different location that's easier to find than then Outlook templates location
  5. Create a new folder in your Outlook mail tree to hold the new template (Email Templates, for example)
    1. Note that this step is different from what Microsoft guidance recommends. Microsoft stops at step 4.1 above, and provides a different procedure for using the template. I find this procedure unnecessarily complicated, requiring many clicks to execute. My process is much simpler!
  6. Navigate, in Windows Explorer, to the location you noted in step 4.1 or 4.2 above
  7. Drag the OFT template file to the new folder created in step 5

Use the email template

  1. Navigate to the Email Templates folder created in step 5 of Create an email template
  2. Open the template (you may be prompted to confirm that you want to open this type of file)
  3. Modify the text as needed, add email recipients
    1. Note that modifying the body of the message or its subject will not change the underlying template. To modify the template, follow steps outlined in Create an email template above
  4. Click on Send to send the message


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  • Avatar
    Peter Altenberg

    I can't for the life of me figure out how to open an OFT in Outlook 2013. (typical MS taking out something that I know for a fact is used a lot and making some convoluted method to make it work).

    So you say here "Navigate to the Email Templates folder created in step 5." Can you please tell me where to navigate from, it is not at all obvious. I tried from several places but it does not work. Navigate from where?


  • Avatar
    Ilya Lehrman


    in the Create an email template set of steps, in Step 5 you create a new folder that will hold your template (in steps 6 and 7 you move the OFT file into the folder you create in Outlook in Step 5).

    The new folder is accessible in the Outlook 2013 area that displays your email folders (such as Inbox, Sent Items, etc.) The folder should appear in that same list. Does that help?

  • Avatar
    Michelle Blogg

    I have followed all of the above steps outlined above for Outlook 2013 and saved my template into a sub-folder of my Inbox titled "Templates. When I use the template however and send it, it disappears from the from the templates folder. Help please..

  • Avatar
    Ilya Lehrman

    Hello Michelle!

    Did you save the email as an OFT file? If so, it definitely shouldn't disappear from your Templates folder... Please double-check and give it another go!

  • Avatar
    Michelle Blogg

    OK. I tried again to save it (save as) and I only have the following file type options:
    Outlook message format - Unicode
    Outlook Template
    Outlook message format
    Outlook message format - Unicode
    MHT files

  • Avatar
    Ilya Lehrman

    Outlook Template is what you need! It'll have the *.oft extension after you save it. When you switch to Outlook Template it'll change the directory (automatically) to where Outlook wants to store templates - switch back to where you can easily find the new file.

  • Avatar
    Michelle Blogg

    Thank you so much. That worked. Headache gone!

  • Avatar
    Berrett Maynard

    I've been using .oft files for 3 years in my current job, recently our company upgraded or exchange server to 2013 from 2010, suddenly now once I enter information into my .oft files if I just click send it looses all my changes, I have to click save and then send. Anyone know how to stop this behavior it's really slowing down my workflow because I have muscle memory for sending these types of emails, and to do an extra step that is out of the flow throws me so I am sending out lots of blank templates and looking foolish! What changed from 2010 - 2013?

  • Avatar
    PierreOlof Minczeles

    Outlook 2013:
    In month 1 I create/save as form/send a new.oft file. Fine.
    Month 2 choose form this new.oft file, change/save as form /send new.oft file. Fine.
    Month 3 open the last file: layout, format and symbols (this € or è being symbols): gone.
    Looks like a bug, anyone knows?

  • Avatar
    PierreOlof Minczeles

    Outlook 2013: another issue:
    choose *.oft offers you the possible folders, but how to default the save as form folders. Now it always returns to the MS default folder.

  • Avatar
    Ilya Lehrman

    My sincere apologies for not realizing there were new comments here!

    Berrett: I'm not entirely certain of what you're describing. Can you perhaps offer a little more detail of how you perform this process?

    Pierre: Is the formatting still an issue? My guess is that the template was saved using Plain Text, which lost all formatting - by accident perhaps? As for your 2nd question - it appears that the MS default folder for saving *.oft is, well, default - and can't be changed!

  • Avatar
    Nancy Baier

    llya - I have the same issue with templates as Berrett mentioned above. I have had templates that I've been using for years. I open the template with my standard data, edit some of the information in the body of the email like client name or documents I need back from them, then I send the message. In the past, the edits I made went out to the client. Now, when I send, the message goes out with the default template language and has none of my edited information in it. What has changed that would cause this to not save the edits like it used to do?

  • Avatar
    Ilya Lehrman


    I apologize for the delay in responding to you. Without knowing what's happened in your environment, I'm not able to tell you what's changed... Perhaps it was an update? Are you using a newer version of Outlook? If your existing IT folks are unable to address this, please create a support request here, and consider subscribing to my helpdesk to get consistent technology support.

  • Avatar
    Doug Layton

    Thanks for sharing this Ilya! As you stated in your 'how to' steps above, this is many degrees simpler than the official MSFT way to use Outlook templates. I'll be sharing this far & wide!

  • Avatar
    Jijeesh Kuttykrishnan

    Ilya, Thanks for the details, actually i was searching for how to create a template in an outlook folder. And the blog helped me to create as i wish.

    I have 2 questions -

    1) Now i created the template as you said i dragged OFT file to the folder in outlook.
    but in the reading pane -- it says as """"this file cannot be previewed because there is no previewer installed for it"""" i checked the regedit access level and it was fine.
    How to overcome this ? i want to see body of the message in reading pane.

    2) when i try to open the template - it says """ you should open files from a trustworthy source""" .. Is there anyway to overcome this dialogue message.

    Thanks for the help in advance.

  • Avatar
    Roger L Beck

    Sorry about this being off topic, unless it's the solution. I want to create an outlook 365 new mail message font set to 12, but it displays so small on my 15.6" monitor that it is hardly readable; presumably this is because of the 130+ character ruler. I only want the standard number of characters for a 8.5" width letter with 1" right margin" I can't find a solution to this problem. Any suggestion would be appreciated.

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