Publishing Custom Forms in Outlook

Last reviewed on March 17, 2015   —  No comments yet

After creating a custom form, how do you save and use it?

You have two choices: you can use the File, Save as menu and choose Save as template (*.oft) in the file system or Publish it to a folder in your mailbox.

Which method you choose depends on the form.

Save as Templates in the file system

Simple forms can be saved as templates anywhere on the drive. You can double click to open them or copy them to a folder in Outlook for easy access.

Forms with custom fields need to be saved in the default Templates folder and opened using the Choose Form dialog. See How to Open Outlook Templates using Toolbar Buttons if you want to create a toolbar or ribbon button to open these forms.

Published Forms

Forms with code behind them need to be published. Instructions to publish forms and delete republished forms follow.

Publish A Custom Form | How to Delete a Published Form

Version the form

Add a version number to your formBefore publishing (or republishing) a form you should enter a version number on the Properties page. Each time you republish the form, increment the number (usually in 1.2 format, but it’s your form and you can use whole numbers, if desired.)

You can also change the icon. The default forms icons are stored under the FORMS folder in your Office installation; by default it’s C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OfficeXX\FORMS\[lang-id].

Publish the form

To publish a form using Outlook 2007 and up, select Publish on the Developer ribbon. If you are publishing a new form for the first time, either Publish or Publish Form As will do. Use Publish Form As if you want to publish a custom form using a new name.

Click on Publish form

Enter a name for your form. You can use spaces in the name, however I prefer not to.

The default location for non-mail forms is Outlook Folders. This saves the form in the default folder for the item type. You can choose another folder (of the same type), if desired. When forms are published to the folder, you can select them from the Actions menu (older versions) or from the New Items > Custom Forms button.

Enter a name for your form

To publish a form with Outlook 98 to Outlook 2003

  1. In the open item that you want to publish as a form, choose Tools > Forms > Publish Form.
  2. In the Publish Form As dialog box, use the Look In list and Browse button to select the location where you want to publish the form.
  3. Give the form a Display name, which will be used to select the form from the folder menu or forms library, and Form name.
  4. Click the Publish button.

On message forms, Outlook will pop up a message suggesting that you check the Send form definition with item box on the form’s Properties page. You should answer No to this prompt. Answering Yes will cause all items creating with the form to one-off, which means that the code behind the form will not run on machines with the Outlook Email Security Update.

After publishing, the form is installed and ready to use.


Save as or Install *.FDM

While users of any version of Outlook can save, publish, or share custom forms as FDM files, most people will share custom forms as template files (*.oft). However, a bug in Outlook 2013 prevents users from saving some custom forms as templates (*.oft). In order to save a custom form in Outlook 2013, you need to publish it then save the published form as *.fdm file.

To save the published form as a FDM file, open the File, Options dialog, Advanced, and click the Custom Forms button, then Manage Forms. Locate the form you want to save, select it and click Save as.

Use Forms Manager to save or install Forms

Repeat the steps to install a form: open File, Options, Advanced. Click on Custom Forms, then Manage Forms. Click Install then browse for the form.

Note: some forms will need to be in the default *.fdm location, %localappdata%\microsoft\outlook, to install.

While this is a few more steps than are necessary when you use a template, Outlook 2013 users can use this method to save custom forms to an Exchange server’s Organizational Forms Library, as the Organizational Forms Library is not available as a Publish to location in Outlook 2013.

Published form locations

Outlook forms can be published to three different types of form “libraries”:

  1. Personal Forms Library of forms stored in your Personal Folders or Exchange Server mailbox.
  2. Organizational Forms Library of forms stored on the Exchange Server for group use. You need permission from the Exchange Server administrator to publish to this library.
  3. Folder Forms Library of forms associated with a particular folder, either in your mailbox or Personal Folders or in a public folder on the Exchange Server.

When a form is published to a folder, it’s listed on the Actions menu when you are using that folder. To use the form, click on Actions, <form name>

Remove a Custom Form

To remove a published form in Outlook 2010 and up, choose File > Options > Advanced > Custom Forms > Manage Forms to access the Forms Manager dialog.

In Outlook 2007, 2003 or 2002 choose Tools > Options > Other tab > Advanced Options > Custom Forms > Manage Forms and use the Forms Manager that pops up.

Click the Set button and select the location where the form is published. Select the form and click Delete.

Use the manage forms dialog to delete custom forms

In Outlook 2000 or 98, choose Tools > Options > Manage Forms, and use the Forms Manager that pops up. (In Outlook 98 or Outlook 2000, this function is not available in Internet Mail Only mode, only in Corporate/Workgroup mode.)

Publish forms video tutorial

More Information

For more information on distributing forms, see How do I distribute Outlook forms to other users?

Discuss in our community

About Diane Poremsky

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by

No responses to “Publishing Custom Forms”

  1. Glenn Martin

    Hello Diane, I am moving some Org Forms from a 2003 Org Form Library, to a Shared Mailbox Org Library (the mailbox is on Exch2010). Is there a way for me to manage permissions to those forms? For example, I need to give a user full permission on the shared mailbox in order for them to add the mailbox to their profile. Is there a way for me to prevent them from modifying or deleting the forms in the shared mailbox library?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      They have full permission so the mailbox is added automatically? you can give fewer permissions but they'd need to add the mailbox in Account settings > More Settings.

  2. Glenn Martin

    Thanks Diane. This engagement might go a couple of different ways. Currently, the simplicity of auto-adding the shared mailbox to the profile is very enticing to the client. If that is offset by having people delete or modify the forms, they may reconsider. If we went with read only access to the shared mailbox, which is only there to house the org forms, do those permissions extend to the forms and prevent modifications/deletions? And are mailbox permissions the only way to manage permissions on the forms? Thanks again.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, the folder permissions extend to the content in the folders. That would be the only way to manage them, yes.

  3. Glenn Martin

    One last question. Is there a way to reorder the Org Form Libraries, or set a default library from within the Choose Form dialogue box? When I drop down the "Look in" field, I would like the Shared Mailbox library to show up first. Or at least move the Shared Mailbox library closer to top of the list. It's currently at the bottom. Thanks!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Sorry, no. That is an MRU list but its unsorted.

  4. Erin

    Hi Diane,
    I've created a basic form in Outlook 2010 and saved it as a .msg file. When I attach the .msg to an email so a co-worker can use the file, they see a blank page, with only the TO, CC and Subject line displayed. I've tried it with excluding a separate read page and with copying the content from the display page to the read page, and neither seems to work. Any help you could offer would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Try saving it as a template (oft) and sending that to the coworker. They won't see the form unless you use forms definition, but its better to send the template and let them publish it.

  5. dee

    Diane, I cannot seem to print out my custom form with the visual look that I designed. It prints out only the fields in a simple text file with the variables and the data next to those variable. Any way to print the form that looks like the way i designed it?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, you can't print the look unless you use screen print. Outlook's built in printer templates use a simple design - text only (and embedded images, if in the notes field).

  6. Tom

    Hi Diane. I have a custom form that was developed in Outlook 2000/2003. It has a problem in Outlook 2010 which means it no longer works as expected. The form runs a VBScript on opening to work out what 'state' it is in, this then determines which fields and controls are displayed. The first check the script does is to see if the form has already been opened (using Item.Unread). In 2000/2003 Item.Unread returns "True" the first time the form item is opened, but in 2010 it looks like Outlook changes the state to "False" before the code runs so the check always fails.
    I realise this is a bit of a long-shot, but any help much appreciated!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Where is the form published? Is the script running? Scripts are blocked in some folder unless you enable them in Trust Center, Email Security.

    2. Tom

      For the testing I'm doing I have published in my Personal Forms Library. The script is running, I've got message boxes to pop up showing me where it gets to. This is the section:

      If Item.Unread Then
      Item.userProperties.item("FormState") = conPartnerForApproval
      Item.userProperties.item("FormState") = conRequestorSentForView
      End if

      In 2010 it always goes to the 'Else', in 2003 it would go to the 'If' the first time the item was opened.

      Thanks again.

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