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Tricking Outlook 2010 into Using Custom HTML Template for New Messages, Replies & Forwards

August 11th, 2011

Getting MS Office applications to play nice can be a challenge. It seems that every time a new version comes out, things that worked fine before no longer do. We’ve been hesitant to upgrade to the newest version of Office because of the fact that, in the 2007 version, it did not seem possible to get Outlook to use a custom HTML email template on replies and forwarded messages. For the sake of consistency, it’s preferable to have the same look appear on all outgoing messages, regardless of whether it’s a new conversation or part of an existing one.

So, we set out to find out if the 2010 version of Outlook was any more flexible. At first glance, it seemed that it was similar to 2007 – you could paste an HTML file inside the stationery folder on the hard drive and you could then use that from within the list of “themes” shown. Still, our replies and forwards were left out in the cold, so a solution had to be found.

After a little tinkering around, we discovered that you can trick Outlook 2010 into using an existing HTML file as a “Signature” that can be applied to both new messages, as well as replies and forwarded messages. Follow the steps below to use this workaround to apply consistent look/feel and formatting to your messages in Outlook 2010. This presumes that you already have a fabulously-designed HTML email stationery template like the ones we create for our clients…contact us if you need help designing a custom branded email template for your business.

Here are the locations on the hard drive where Outlook places files for signatures on Vista/Windows 7 and Windows XP machines. Please note that these folders may be hidden by default, so you may have to make some modifications to your folder options to see them listed.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Windows XP
drive:\Documents and Settings\username\
Application Data\Microsoft\Signatures


Go to File –> Options –> Mail and click on “Signatures”
Click “New” to have Outlook create a new signature and give it a name.
Then, go to the appropriate folder on the hard drive where your Signatures are found (per above).
Right-click on the .HTM file with the name you gave your new signature and open it with Notepad.
Copy and then paste in the HTML from your custom email template and save.
In Outlook, go to File –> Options –> Mail –> Signatures, set it to use your new Signature for both New Messages and Replies/Forwards. This will ensure consistent application of your template on all messages.


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