Launching Outlook at startup (in a smarter way)

I know many people start Outlook as the first application directly after they start their computer and close it as the last one when they shutdown.

You might already know that you can automatically start any application at startup by placing a shortcut to this application in the Startup folder in the Start Menu. This is a great way to save you a click and/or to ensure that you do not forget to start Outlook.

However, the problem with this method is that you are putting quite a bit of stress on your computer directly when you login and starting up your computer might actually take a lot longer as a result. Especially if you are also starting some other applications directly at logon, you could render your computer unresponsive for quite some time.

Want to know a smarter way?

Task Scheduler buttonThe “smarter way” is to use a delayed Scheduled Task instead.

After creating the task to start Outlook, you must modify it to run with a normal priority or otherwise it will get started with a background priority instead.

More responsive and quicker boot

Why? buttonBy adding a delay of somewhere between 30 seconds or a couple of minutes, your computer will have time to complete the startup and log you on properly first.

This will make the logon process much quicker and leave the computer more responsive. This also means that when you started the computer not to check your mail, but to check something on the Internet, you don’t have to wait until your computer comes back to life again and have the opportunity to launch your browser in between.

Step 1: Creating a Delayed Scheduled Task

To start Outlook at logon via a delayed Scheduled Task use the following steps below;
(This may look like a lot of steps, but you’ll be done in less than 5 minutes or even quicker when you can use the PowerShell method shown below.)

  1. Open the Start Menu and type; Task Scheduler
    • Alternatively; In the Search box at the top right in Control Panel type; schedule tasks
  2. In the pane on the left choose: Task Scheduler Library. 
  3. From the Action pane on the right side of the Task Scheduler window click; Create Task…
  4. On the General tab fill in the following fields;
    • Name: Start Outlook at logon
    • Description: Starting Outlook via a delayed start
  5. Select the Triggers tab and press New….
  6. From the New Trigger dialog that pops-up set the following options;
    • Begin the task: At log on
    • Specific user: automatically selects your user account
    • Delay task for: 2 minutes
      See Note 1 for more info.
    • Enabled: selected
  7. Press OK to close the New Trigger dialog.
  8. Select the Actions tab and press New…
  9. Use the Browse… button to browse to OUTLOOK.EXE
    Depending on your version of Outlook and Windows, you can find it in one of the following locations;
    • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16
    • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office (x86)\root\Office16
    • C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office##
    • C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office##
  10. In the “Add arguments (optional)” field type;
    See Note 2 for more info.
  11. Press OK to close the New Action dialog.
  12. Select the Settings tab.
  13. Disable the option: Stop the task if it runs longer than 3 days”
    This will prevent Outlook from being closed if you leave your computer running for longer than 3 days.
  14. Press OK to finish creating the task.

Note 1: If your computer starts up faster, you can set this to 1 minute. If it is slower, you can set it to 3 or 5 minutes. You can type in any value you want; you’re not limited to the predefined times.

Note 2: If you have multiple mail profiles configured in Outlook, you can directly open Outlook with a specific profile by using the /profile <profilename> switch.

Step 2: Setting the task priority

Unfortunately, a major downside of this method is that tasks are started with a lower priority. This means that Outlook will run slower. To counter this, you can set the priority of the task but unfortunately this can’t be simply set as an option.

  1. Export your created task by right clicking on it and choosing: Export…
  2. Save the task to a convenient location like the Desktop.
  3. Open the saved xml-file in Notepad. A quick way to do this is by opening Notepad and then drag and drop the file into it.
  4. Somewhere near the bottom, you’ll find the following line:
    Change the priority to 4, 5 or 6 so that the line reads:
    Note: Priority level 4, 5 and 6 are currently all defined the same.
  5. Close Notepad and save the file when being prompted.
  6. In Task Scheduler, delete the tasks you created by right clicking on it and choosing: Delete
  7. In Task Scheduler, from Action pane on the right click on: Import Task….
  8. Browse to the xml-file you saved and click on “Open” to import it.
  9. Click OK to confirm the task creation.

Creating the Scheduled Task with PowerShell

PowerShell buttonAs an alternative, you can also execute the following commands in PowerShell to create the Scheduled Task.

This immediately takes care of the priority issue that is explained above in Step 2.

You may need to adjust the path to Outlook.exe and you can adjust the startup delay ($Delay) too, which is currently set to 2 minutes.

You can change these values later within Task Scheduler as well.

$OutlookPath = "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\OUTLOOK.EXE"
$Argument = "/recycle"
$Name = "Start Outlook at logon"
$Description = "Starting Outlook via a delayed start"
$Delay = New-TimeSpan -Minutes 2

$User = [System.Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity]::GetCurrent().Name
$Trigger = New-ScheduledTaskTrigger -AtLogon -User $User
$Trigger.Delay = [System.Xml.XmlConvert]::ToString($Delay)
$Action = New-ScheduledTaskAction -Execute $OutlookPath $Argument
$Settings = New-ScheduledTaskSettingsSet -Priority 5 -AllowStartIfOnBatteries -ExecutionTimeLimit 0
Register-ScheduledTask -TaskName $Name -Trigger $Trigger -Action $Action -Settings $Settings

Deleting the task

If you ever want to delete the task again, you can do so by opening Task Scheduler again. On the left side, select the Task Scheduler Library and you’ll find the task back in the center pane at the top. Right click the task and choose “Delete”.

Scheduled task for Outlook
Using a delayed scheduled task will keep your computer more responsive at startup.

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