Mail apps for Outlook
Create mail apps that extend Outlook in read or compose mode.
Last modified: June 16, 2015
Applies to: apps for Office | Office Add-ins | Outlook
Learn more about supported hosts and other requirements.
The name "apps for Office" is changing to "Office Add-ins". During the transition, the documentation and the UI of some Office host applications and Visual Studio tools might still use the term "apps for Office". For details, see New name for apps for Office and SharePoint.
A mail app is a webpage that is hosted inside Outlook. Outlook activates the webpage and makes it available to the user contextually with respect to the item that the user is currently viewing, creating, or replying to. The user controls starting any available mail app. Mail apps enhance the browsing or authoring experience. They can run seamlessly across the Outlook rich clients, Outlook Web App, and OWA for Devices. Users install a mail app once for a mailbox and it will work on the devices and Outlook clients that it is designed to.
The Outlook items that support mail apps include email messages, meeting requests, responses and cancellations, and appointments. Each mail app defines the appropriate context for its activation - a context which occurs when the user is either reading or composing an item.
Mail apps can be activated when the user is viewing a message or appointment. As an example, the Bing Maps mail app can activate when the user is in a read form viewing a message that contains an address. The app enhances the browsing experience by conveniently providing a map of the address in the app pane, without requiring the user to leave Outlook.
See the Bing Maps mail app in Outlook.
As seen in the preceding video, when the end user is viewing a message that contains an address in the Reading Pane (or inspector), Outlook activates the Bing Maps mail app for the message. The user sees a Bing Maps app button in the app bar. The user can select the app button to start the app. The mail app then displays a map of the address in the app pane. Figure 2 shows a message that contains a highlighted address in the Reading Pane of Outlook for Windows, the Bing Maps app button that has been chosen in the app bar, and the app displaying a map for the address in the app pane.
To close the app pane, the user can choose the app button again, move on to another message, or do something else in Outlook.
Starting in the second release of the apps for Office platform, in addition to read scenarios, mail apps can be activated when the user is composing a message or appointment as well. As an example, the My Templates mail app can activate in a message or appointment compose form and provide the convenience of inserting common responses. When the user is composing or replying to a message, Outlook activates the relevant mail apps for that message, including the My Templates mail app. The user chooses the Apps for Office button in the ribbon to open the app selection pane and see the activated mail apps, as shown in figure 3.
The user then chooses the My Templates icon to start the app. The app pane on the right opens, and the user can conveniently insert commonly used text in the compose form. Figure 4 shows a message reply in a compose form and the app pane on the right with the My Templates mail app started. The app lists a few templates that are ready for insertion in the message.
The following are two other sample mail apps that activate when the user is viewing a message.
YouTube mail app
See the YouTube mail app in Outlook.
If you're interested in installing the YouTube mail app, follow the instructions in Install sample mail apps in Outlook to install it. See Sample: Create a mail app to view YouTube videos in Outlook for a description of the code.
To try the YouTube mail app, choose an email you have already received that has a URL to a YouTube video, or, create an email message, add one or more URLs to YouTube videos in the body, and send the message to yourself. When you display the message in the Reading Pane or an inspector, Outlook activates the app in the app bar. You can then choose the YouTube app button. In the app pane, choose a video thumbnail to select a video, or the YouTube embedded player to play a video.
The next figure shows the YouTube mail app activated and selected for a message in the Reading Pane. The message contains a URL to a YouTube video.
Phone dialer mail app
See the Phone Dialer mail app in Outlook.
If you're interested in installing the phone dialer mail app, follow the instructions in Install sample mail apps in Outlook to install it. See Sample: Create a mail app for Voice Over IP dialing in Outlook for a description of the code.
To try the phone dialer mail app, create an email message, add one or more telephone numbers to the body and send it to yourself. When you display the message in the Reading Pane or in an inspector, Outlook activates the app in the app bar. You can then choose the Phone Dialer app button, and select a telephone number in the app pane to use VOIP to dial that number.
This app uses Lync as the VOIP service to dial calls. To run this mail app, you must have access to Lync Server, and have installed the Lync client on the client computer and used it at least once to set it up. You can adapt the code to another VOIP service that supports the same callto: and tel: protocols.
The next figure shows the phone dialer mail app activated and selected for a message in the Reading Pane. The message contains a US phone number.
The typical components involved in running a mail app include the following:
An Exchange Server: the user’s mailbox and app manifests reside here.
An Outlook client: the user views or composes a message or appointment in an Outlook rich client, Outlook Web App or OWA for Devices, on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
Figure 7 shows how the typical components interact with one another when the user starts Outlook and views or composes a message or appointment.
See mail apps the first time in Outlook
Walk through simple mail apps
Upgrade from a previous release
Learn the basics
General apps for Office development:
Mail app development: