How to: Attach an Outlook Contact Item to an Email Message

This topic describes how you can programmatically attach a copy of a Microsoft Outlook item, such as a contact, calendar item, or another email message, to an email message before sending the message.

Provided by:  Ken Getz, MCW Technologies, LLC

To attach one or more files or Outlook items to a mail message, you can use the Attachments property of the MailItem object that represents your outgoing mail, and call the Add(Object, Object, Object, Object) method of the Attachments object for each of the attachments. The Add method allows you to specify the file name and how you want to associate the attachment. To attach Outlook items, such as the contact item shown in the example code for this topic, specify the Type parameter of the Add method as the Outlook.olAttachmentType.olEmbeddedItem enumerated value.

The SendMailItem sample procedure in the code example later in this topic accepts the following:

  • A reference to the Outlook Application object.

  • Strings that contain the subject and body of the message.

  • A generic list of strings that contain the SMTP addresses for recipients of the message.

  • A string that contains the SMTP address of the sender.

After creating a new mail item, the code loops through all the recipient addresses, adding each to the Recipients collection of the message. Once the code calls the ResolveAll() method of the Recipients object, it sets the Subject and Body properties of the mail item. Next, the code creates a new Outlook ContactItem object and adds this new contact item as an attachment to the mail message, specifying the Outlook.olAttachmentType.olEmbeddedItem value as a parameter to the Add method call.

Before actually sending the email, you must specify the account from which to send the email message. One technique for finding this information is to use the SMTP address of the sender. The GetAccountForEmailAddress function accepts a string that contains the sender's SMTP email address, and returns a reference for the corresponding Account object. This method compares the sender's SMTP address with the SmtpAddress for each configured email account defined for the session's profile. application.Session.Accounts returns an Accounts collection for the current profile, tracking information for all accounts including Exchange, IMAP, and POP3 accounts, each of which can be associated with a different delivery store. The Account object that has an associated SmtpAddress property value that matches the sender's SMTP address is the account to use to send the email message.

After identifying the appropriate account, the code completes by setting the SendUsingAccount property of the mail item to that Account object, and then calling the Send() method.

The following managed code samples are written in C# and Visual Basic. To run a .NET Framework managed code sample that needs to call into a Component Object Model (COM), you must use an interop assembly that defines and maps managed interfaces to the COM objects in the object model type library. For Outlook, you can use Microsoft Visual Studio and the Microsoft Outlook Primary Interop Assembly (PIA). Before you run managed code samples for Microsoft Outlook 2010, ensure that you have installed the Outlook 2010 PIA and have added a reference to the Microsoft Outlook 14.0 Object Library component in Visual Studio. You should use the following code samples in the ThisAddIn class of a Visual Studio Tools for Office add-in for Outlook, such that the Application object in the code is a trusted Outlook Application object provided by ThisAddIn.Globals. For more information about using the Outlook PIA to develop managed Outlook solutions, see the Outlook 2010 Primary Interop Assembly Reference on MSDN.

The following code shows how to programmatically attach a copy of a contact item to a mail message. To demonstrate this functionality, in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, create a new managed Outlook add-in named EmbedOutlookItemAddIn, and replace the contents of the ThisAddIn.vb or ThisAddIn.cs file with the example code shown here. Modify the ThisAddIn_Startup procedure and update the email addresses appropriately. The SMTP address included in the call to the SendMailWithAttachments procedure must correspond to the SMTP address of one of the outgoing email accounts you have previously configured in Outlook.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using Outlook = Microsoft.Office.Interop.Outlook;
namespace EmbedOutlookItemAddIn
    public partial class ThisAddIn
        private void ThisAddIn_Startup(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
            List<string> recipients = new List<string>();
            // Replace the SMTP address for sending.
            SendMailItem(Application, "Outlook started", "Outlook started at " + 
                DateTime.Now, recipients, "");
        private void ThisAddIn_Shutdown(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
        public void SendMailItem(Outlook.Application application, 
            string subject, string body, 
            List<string> recipients, string smtpAddress)
            Outlook.MailItem newMail = 
                application.CreateItem(Outlook.OlItemType.olMailItem) as Outlook.MailItem;
            // Set up all the recipients.
            foreach (var recipient in recipients)
            if (newMail.Recipients.ResolveAll())
                // Set the details.
                newMail.Subject = subject;
                newMail.Body = body;
                Outlook.ContactItem contact = (Outlook.ContactItem)(application.CreateItem
                // Create a new contact. Use an existing contact instead, 
                // if you have one to work with.
                contact.FullName = "Kim Abercrombie";
                contact.LastName = "Kim";
                contact.FirstName = "Abercrombie";
                contact.HomeTelephoneNumber = "555-555-1212";
                newMail.Attachments.Add(contact, Outlook.OlAttachmentType.olEmbeddeditem);
                newMail.SendUsingAccount = GetAccountForEmailAddress(application, smtpAddress);
        public Outlook.Account GetAccountForEmailAddress(Outlook.Application application, 
            string smtpAddress)
            // Loop over the Accounts collection of the current Outlook session.
            Outlook.Accounts accounts = application.Session.Accounts;
            foreach (Outlook.Account account in accounts)
                // When the email address matches, return the account.
                if (account.SmtpAddress == smtpAddress)
                    return account;
             // If you get here, no matching account was found.
             throw new System.Exception(string.Format("No Account with SmtpAddress: {0} exists!",
    #region VSTO generated code
    /// <summary>
    /// Required method for Designer support - do not modify
    /// the contents of this method with the code editor.
    /// </summary>
    private void InternalStartup()
        this.Startup += new System.EventHandler(ThisAddIn_Startup);
        this.Shutdown += new System.EventHandler(ThisAddIn_Shutdown);