Customize the Outlook Toolbar, Ribbon or QAT

Last reviewed on June 5, 2013

Customizable toolbars and menus were introduced in Outlook 98. (Toolbars and menus are treated as essentially the same thing.) Outlook adds-in written with C++ also can add items to the toolbar.

The toolbars remained virtually unchanged until Outlook 2007 introduced a hybrid ribbon interface, with standard toolbars in the main Outlook window and ribbons on the individual Outlook items (except for Notes). The toolbars can be customized in the same manner as previous versions: right-click in the toolbar area and choose Customize. The ribbon is not customizable, however a “Quick Access Toolbar” is customizable.

Outlook 2007 | Outlook 98 and Later Versions
Outlook 2000 and 2002 Hyperlink and Macro Buttons
Tools | Other Methods | More Information

Outlook 2010 and 2013

Outlook 2010 is the first version that completely eliminated the standard toolbars. Office 2010 adds the ability to easily customize the ribbon (along with the quick access toolbar) and export it as a backup or to share with others. The method is similar to the method used with Outlook 2007.

You cannot create hyperlinked buttons to launch forms or other applications from the ribbon or QAT. You can use a script to launch files or applications and assign the macro to a button. See Create Toolbar Buttons to Open Templates and Files for the necessary VBA and instructions.

Use the following steps to customize the ribbon or QAT in Outlook 2010 or 2013:

  1. Click File, then Options
  2. Select either Customize ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar
  3. If you are adding a command to the ribbon, you’ll need to add a new group to an existing tab or a new tab and a new group using the New Group and New Tab buttons.
  4. Find the command on the left and click Add to add it to the new group.
  5. Click Rename if you want to change the name or change the icon.

Outlook 2007

The Outlook 2007 ribbon is not easily customized. You need to create a new custom ribbon using XML to add buttons to the ribbon, however, you can add buttons to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in the top left. You can assign macros to the QAT but cannot launch forms or other applications from a QAT button. You are limited to the button icons provided by Outlook (unless you create a custom ribbon).

The standard toolbar in the main Outlook window is customizable. If you want to create buttons linked to files, see Create Toolbar Buttons to Open Templates and Files.

Office 2007's ribbon interface doesn't allow you to create custom toolbars as older versions of Office did, however, you can use the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) to bring your most used commands within easy reach.

The QAT is the row of buttons across the top of open Outlook items (messages, appointments, calendar, tasks, journal).

To add commands to the QAT, click the down arrow to the right of the bar and select More Commands from the menu. Select the commands you wish to add (or remove) and close the dialog when finished.

Quick Access Toolbar

You can use Alt+n shortcuts with the commands on the QAT.
Quick Access Toolbar shortcuts

Outlook 98 – Outlook 2003

To customize the toolbar and menu in Outlook 98 and later versions, right-click anywhere on the toolbar, and then choose Customize. Drag new commands from the Commands tab to the toolbar. Drag unwanted command away from the toolbar to remove them. You can also right-click on any button or menu command to customize it.

To reset a toolbar or menu to its original appearance, in the Customize dialog, on the Toolbars tab, select the toolbar, and then click Reset.

Outlook 2000 and 2002 Hyperlink and Macro Buttons

When you add new buttons in Outlook 2000 and 2002, you can use them to run other programs, Internet hyperlinks or macros that you create in Outlook VBA.

To add a program or Internet link:

  1. Drag any button from the Commands tab of the Customize dialog to the toolbar.
  2. Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name.
  3. Choose Assign Hyperlink | Open.
  4. In the Assign Hyperlink dialog, select a file or web page. You can also type in any other type of URL, such as to send an e-mail message.
  5. Click OK, then Close to finish adding the hyperlink button.

To add a macro, you must first create the macro in VBA. Then, follow these steps:

  1. From the Commands tab of the Customize dialog, drag the macro to the toolbar.
  2. Right-click the new button, and enter a new Name, and then press Enter. If you want the button to open with a keyboard shortcut, insert the & character before the character in the name that you want to use as the shortcut. Outlook will assign Alt+character to that button.
  3. Click Close to finish adding the hyperlink button.

Other Methods

If you use WordMail as your e-mail editor, you can create additional toolbars to use with e-mail messages. To do this, you must open your default e-mail template (usually in Word itself, then use View | Toolbars | Customize to create a new toolbar (or add a button to an existing toolbar). Note that you won’t be able to change the Outlook Send Mail toolbar. After you save, create a new message in Outlook. You should be able to use View | Toolbars to see the new toolbar you created in Word.

You can add a link to a particular form to the Microsoft Office toolbar using this command for the shortcut:

<path>\Outlook.exe /c IPM.MyForm

where <path> is the path to Outlook.exe on your machine and IPM.MyForm is the name of a form you have created and published to Personal Folders.

If you want to add a menu command to a particular type of item, this can be done by creating a custom form action. See Creating a “New Fax to Contact” Action for an example.

Written by

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.

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