Create a Service to attach files to a new Outlook for Mac mail message

Automator iconOffice 2011 has dozens of Automator actions to make scripting tasks possible without necessarily having to know AppleScript. Outlook for Mac alone has more than 20 actions that you can use individually or in combination with other actions. Let’s look at creating a very simple but useful workflow to attach messages to a new Outlook for Mac mail message.

First, launch the application found in the /Applications folder. You’ll first be asked to choose a template for your workflow. For this simple workflow, we want to select Service. A Service will appear as an item in a contextual menu when you right-click or Control-click something. Click the Choose button to continue.

Choose Service

Workflows read from top to bottom as a sequence of steps. So, let’s start at the top.

Look at the top of the workflow window for Service receives selected followed by a couple of drop-down menus. Set this part of the workflow to read: Service receives selected files or folders in any application.

Service receives files or folders

This tells the Automator workflow to act on whatever files or folders we select.

The left pane of the Automator window is called the Library. Locate Outlook in the Library and select it. This will display nothing but the Outlook actions in the second pane of the Library.

Outlook Library

Locate the Create New Outlook Mail Message action and drag it into the right pane of the Automator window.

Add action

The new action will attach itself to the above action. This indicates that anything from the first action, which receives selected files or folders, will be passed along to the second action, which is to create a new Outlook mail message. Congratulations! You’ve just created a workflow!

New workflow

If you’d like to further customize the addressees, the Subject or the Message then enter that information now. I suggest you leave this blank so that you can use this workflow for sending attachments to anyone for any purpose.

Select Save from the File menu to save your new Service. Name it something descriptive such as “Attach to new message in Outlook”.

Save service as

Automator will automatically save your new Service workflow to your home folder: ~/Library/Services.

Now, let’s test it. Locate a small file on your Desktop such as a picture or PDF and right-click or Control-click the file to view the contextual menu. At the bottom of the menu select Services and then select the name of your newly created Service.

Select Service

Within a few seconds, your selected file should appear as an attachment in a new Outlook mail message. This will work for multiple files too! Folders will be automatically compressed into .zip files before attaching.

Try variations of this workflow for different purposes. You may want to consider including a default addressee and subject in the workflow if you know you’ll be sending files to this same person repeatedly. You can even add the Send Outgoing Outlook Mail Messages action to the end to send the message immediately if you have no need to edit it.

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10 comments to Create a Service to attach files to a new Outlook for Mac mail message

  • WebSurfer

    Thank you for the great solution. I was very frustrated that I couldn’t use this handy feature on my new MacBook Air. This is a simple workaround. Now if I could just figure out how to have Outlook as the default Mail program to send a Word document directly from Word rather than have Mail as the only option in the Share menu item.

  • Greg

    “Outlook > Preferences > General > Set as Default.”

    This does not work. Even though the default email client shows as Outlook, if I print to a PDF and select to send PDF via mail then the Mail app pops up instead of Outlook.

  • ti22

    Excellent write up! This is a great tutorial and certainly worth having as a service.

    Question: On the third and fourth screenshots above, it shows Automator with the list of available apps under “Library”. In the pics above it shows Outlook, Word, etc in the Library List. I’m using a MacBook Pro with OS X 10.6.8 and Office 2011, however when I open Automator the list of apps under Library is missing all other apps such as Office, etc.

    Is there a way to edit the list of apps that shows under “Library”?

  • Catherine Bridge

    This doesn’t work, first only mail was ion the library pane even though outlook was in the actions as pictured. second when the automator work flow was selected it open a mail window but no attachment???

    How can this be fixed??

    • If you don’t see Outlook in the Library pane then select View menu –> Arrange Actions by –> Application.

      If the attachment is not attaching then all I can suggest is that you double-check what you’ve put into Automator. I’ve double-checked that it still works with Lion although I wrote this while Snow Leopard was still top cat. It works for both.