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Setting Skype, Messenger, Lync or Communicator as the default IM client for Outlook

I’m currently using Windows Live Messenger as my personal IM client but since that is going away, I recently also installed Skype.

Skype now integrates with Outlook as well but as I also have Lync installed for work. I actually need to have that integrated with Outlook instead of Skype.

How can I set which IM client should integrate with Outlook?

Since version 6.1, Skype indeed integrates with the IM functionality available in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013. This means that you can see people’s Skype availability, reply to an email via an IM or directly start a call or chat all from within Outlook.

As you could have multiple IM clients installed with Outlook integration possibilities, it would have been nice if there was an easy way to select your IM client for Outlook straight from within Outlook or the IM client itself. Sadly, this is not the case, but you can still set it directly via the Registry.

Download: Latest version of Skype

IM Providers Registry key

The Registry key which stores which IM client can integrate with Outlook is:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\IM Providers

Below this key, you’ll find several sub keys which represent the IM clients that you have installed on your system (and registered themselves as such).

In the IM Providers key, you’ll see a value called DefaultIMApp. This value should correspond to one of the sub keys. When you change the value of DefaultIMApp, restart Outlook and it should now use that as that application for IM integration.

Various IM clients can integrate with Outlook but choosing a default requires a Registry fix.
Various IM clients can integrate with Outlook but choosing a default requires a Registry fix.

Note: This also affects the other Office applications of course. For instance, when you use the Contact Card in Backstage or the comment section of Word 2013.

Supported IM clients

Please realize that you can’t simply pick any IM client and expect its integration to work in Outlook or other Office applications. If it doesn’t offer any Office integration features, setting this key to that application will disable the Reply with IM, chat, call and on-line availability functions in Outlook.

Amongst the supported IM clients are: Skype, Lync and Office Communicator 2007 R2. The level of integration depends on a combination of the IM client being used and the version of Outlook.

Note: Windows Messenger got discontinued so setting MSN Messenger as the default is no longer supported.

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