Outlook not accessible when writing email

When I start creating an email from another application, I cannot access Outlook anymore. Every time I click in Outlook, I only hear a “ping” sound.

How can I get the focus back on Outlook instead of the opened message?

This is a limitation caused by how the application called Outlook to create a new mail.

Simple MAPI

Send To -> Mail recipientYou’ll find this behavior when you for instance use Send-> Email in Word or Excel (or any other Office application) or when choosing Sent To-> Mail Recipient when right clicking a file in Explorer.

This is because the Send To command initiates Simple MAPI which only loads a stub of Outlook and launches a modal form instead of a modeless form. This means that the form must be completed before the application underneath the form can be used again.

There is no direct workaround for this other than to start creating a mail from within Outlook instead of another application.

Other Simple MAPI limitations

You’ll find that by sending a file via the Send To command, you’ll run into other limitations as well such as;

  • the message could be in Plain Text
  • when it gets loaded in HTML, your default stationery might not be applied
  • your default signature is not added
  • add-ins might not get loaded correctly
  • mail won’t be sent automatically when Outlook wasn’t running when you initiated the Send To command

Workarounds

Especially because of the last limitation, you might want to verify that your message actually got send. Having Outlook running should do the trick.

Even though your defaults settings are not respected, you can change the message format while composing and add your default signature again.

If you want to make sure your settings are loaded by default or if you know you’ll need access to the main Outlook window while you are composing your message, it is recommended to start your message from within Outlook and add the attachment manually.

If you are frequently using the Send To-> Mail Recipient feature in Explorer, then you can customize it so it will always create a “full feature” Outlook message as described in: Send To Mail Recipient in HTML and with Signature.

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