Customize the Outlook Toolbar, Ribbon or QAT

Last reviewed on June 5, 2013   —  53 comments

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 mailto:somebody@anycompany.com 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 Email.dot) 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 Email.dot, 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.

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 Slipstick.com.

53 responses to “Customize the Outlook Toolbar, Ribbon or QAT”

  1. alan stickel

    When viewing an email the only tabs I see below the Quick menu are Message and Developer. How do I get the damn program to display the "Format" tab when I am viewing an email message?

    I need this because some email messages from DROIDs or other smartphones are displayed with yellow text which is very hard if not impossible to read. I need to reformat the text of these emails to a black color, but I have no format tabs showing.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You need to enter Edit mode. In Outlook 2007/2010, look for Actions, Edit Message command - it's on the home ribbon of an open message.

      You can drag a copy of the message to the junk folder and read it as plain text only.

  2. gary

    gamartin@express-news.net

    When we get on are email OutLook 2010 and set up are toolbar, then at the end of the day we log off,. the next day we log back on are setting on toolbar are gone? So each day we have to reset the toolbar??
    Thanks for any info.
    Gary

  3. Robert Wiegan

    How do I restore my ribbon on Outlook 2010?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You just have the row of tabs with the File tab in orange? You can double click on any tab to open the ribbon or use the little arrow icon on the right.

  4. narendra

    I wanna remove the buttons of macros from tool bar...how am I suppose to do that?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Since you mention toolbar, I'll assume it's a toolbar and not the ribbon. In that case, right click in a blank area around the toolbar and choose Customize. With the dialog open, drag the buttons off.
      If it's the ribbon in Outlook 2007 and up, you need to go to File, Options to edit the ribbon or QAT.

  5. John

    How do you increase the size of the icons on the ribbon bar

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can't, well, except by changing your screen resolution. You should have two sizes - small, which is used for compact chunks, and large when the screen is wide enough to display the full sizes.

  6. dgreco99

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You covered the Ribbon Bar in the post above, but how about the customized Quick Acces Toolbar? Is there a way to increase the size of the tiny icons in the Quick Access Toolbar (other then making system wide changes such as changing the screen resolution, which I do not want to do). Thanks in advance of any assistance you can offer.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Sorry, the QAT only supports one icon size with one exception - if you use Outlook 2013 and enable Touch mode, they are a little roomier. Otherwise your choices are limited to placing it above or below the ribbon.

  7. J L Merrill

    I have been unable to find a way to disable the pesky, annoying, and for me, unnecessary floating toolbar that appears in the body of a message in Outlook 2007. It prevents me from manipulating the text body the way I want to, because it just pops up when I try to set the cursor where I want it. If I want to make text bold, change font color, use underline or italics, I prefer to do it myself. The "floater" just gets in my way, and I would like to get rid of it. How?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Try office icon, Editor options, Popular page: deselect show mini toolbar. The little paste and smart tags buttons are enabled/disabled at the bottom of the Advanced page. You'll still get the toolbar on a right click, above the context menu.

  8. Apple

    I try to customise the ribbon, by adding a new group. I selected a number of commands to put into the new group. However, the comands are displayed top-down, then left-right. How do i change the sequence to display left-right, then top down? The default groups all display the left-right, then top down.

    For example, if i addded commands A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H. The commands would display
    A, D, G
    B, E, H
    C, F

    How do i get outlook to display the commands
    A, B, C
    D, E, F
    G, H

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Which version of Outlook? I'm not seeing this in Outlook 2013 here. Mine are going down then right. The only goofy one is quick steps - it goes across then down.

  9. Apple

    Outlook 2010, running on Windows 7

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I'm still not seeing Outlook handle the commands differently. The sort order is based on the order they are added. Can you post a screenshot somewhere so i can see what you're seeing.

  10. dporemsky

    Ah. Now I see. They have been control over the chunks they created - they control button size, which buttons collapse first and all aspects of the toolbar layout. When you add the buttons to new bar, you can't control it. Sorry.

  11. Nick

    I'm using Outlook 2010 on WIndows 7. When in the VB editor I customise the Debug toolbar but all changes have disappeared when I next open Outlook. Don't have this problem in Access, Word or Excel. Any idea what Im doing wrong please?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Is Outlook closing cleanly? Open task manager and look on the Processes tab - is Outlook.exe running after you closed it? When changes don't stick, I usually make the change then immediately close and reopen Outlook - I don't have to worry about a crash wiping out the changes.

  12. David

    Is there a way to change a ribbon item's icon to something not included in the standard set provided in outlook 2010?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, but it requires programming your own ribbon, so for most people the real answer is No. It wouldn't be so bad if they included more or better icons... and Outlook 2010 has even uglier icons.

  13. Carl

    I have Outlook 2007. Somehow the ribbon below the changed so that it only displays a few icons and then size and all the other information such as sent date, sender, etc has disappeared. I have spent quite a few hours trying to find the fix and done a number of resets on menus, but not solved the problem. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I'm not sure exactly what you are talking about - the ribbon on an open message or the message list.

      Message list: Reset the view. Right click on Arrange By and choose Custom... from the list. Then Reset.

      Open message: Do you see the tab names? Double click on them or right click and choose Minimize Ribbon to toggle it off and on.

  14. Carl

    It is really the header below the inbox that was affected. I was able to fix that, but each message shows a few lines and I would prefer that each message only occupy one line. Not sure how to do that.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      That is probably the compact view or the 3 line preview for unread messages. If you adjust the width of the reading pane or put it on the bottom, you'll get a single line view. The 3 line preview can be turned off and the point at which compact view kicks in can be changed in Customize views, Other settings. Right click on the row of fields name (on Arrange by) and choose custom > Other settings.

  15. cengolo

    Although i add the macro as a button to a group in the ribbon and put the amperasand before the accelerator charachter, i see the name of the button with th ampersan (like e&nglish) and shortcut keys does not work. any ideas?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Shortcut keys don't work with the ribbon, only on the toolbar in older versions of Outlook.

  16. Cenk Tarhan

    Then i presume there iş No way of running a macro with a keyboard shortcut in outlook 2013. Yes?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, you can use shortcuts, but you can't assign the shortcut. If you add it to the QAT, you can use the QAT shortcuts of Alt+[position] - hit Alt to see the shortcuts. Ribbons works the same way, with custom tabs buttons using Y? as the shortcut key. On one of my custom ribbons, a shortcut is alt+Y1YK, a macro button I added to Home tab is Alt+HY7.

    2. phxphun

      Is there any way to modify the Alt key combinations Outlook assigns to commands I've added to the QAT?

  17. Ivan

    Appreciate if you can let me know is it possible to customize or change the icon image on QAT with Outlook2007. I have to add 12 icons on QAT to trigger different marco. It is good if I can customize my own icon image as the current avaiable icon image cannot fit the meaning of the marco action.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You are limited to the images in Modify (assuming Outlook 2007's has a Modify button, I don't have 2007 handy to check). This is probably the most annoying thing about customizing the ribbon in 2007/2010/2013 - a normal users can't paste icons like they could in older versions. Programmers can add icons and commands if they create ribbons.

  18. Neil

    Hi! I'm using Oulook 2007 mainly for my emails. I've pressed something and the ribbon (I hope that's the right term!) showing 'New reply delete etc' has diappeared from the top. It was just under the line 'File, edit, view, go etc.' How do I get it back? Thanks. Neil.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      This is in the main Outlook window that still uses the toolbars? Go to View > Toolbar. I think its the Standard toolbar - is it selected? You can try setting the toolsbars via the customize command on the same menu.

  19. Neil

    That's solved it! I've even managed to move it into the position it was previously. Many thanks.
    Neil

  20. Sundar Singh

    Hi

    I want to minimize the "Send Mail" ribbon in compose mode which is just below standard ribbon.
    It eats up space on my 14" Laptop screen. Can I minimize it for time being?
    It has that To,CC, Subject section which I may want to hide for slightly long mails which most of the time include screenshots.

    Regards
    Sundar Singh

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, sorry, that can't be reduced or minimized.

  21. Jean-Olivier

    Hi Diane,

    Thank you for your great job and help about Outlook.

    Is there a way to built a button with a list in which each item launches a specific macro?
    Same as "New Items" button or "Rules" button?

    (small) Button (dropdown list)
    My Item 1 => macro 1
    My Item 2 => macro 2
    My Item 3 => macro 3

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Jean-Olivier

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Outlook doesn't support customized flyouts using the simple customization features in Customize Ribbon. You'd need to write an addin to do it.

  22. Dina

    how do I expand my ribbon od 2007 outlook. it just has the headings: file/edit/view.. I want it to show what's it in using icons.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      This is in open messages, appointments, tasks, etc? Double click on one of the heading names or right click and choose Minimie Ribbon. The main Outlook window has the old fashioned toolbar - if you only see the Standard toolbar, right click on it and select Standard and maybe Advanced.

  23. laura

    I am using outlook 2007 - I need to edit my "forms" how do i do this?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      In Outlook 2007 you need to enable the Developer ribbon for Outlook items (mail, calendar, contact forms, etc) from the Office Icon, Editor options dialog.

  24. Renee

    I'd like to be able to view the calendar when composing a message in Outlook - can I get it to show in the blank space available on the Message tab?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      unfortunately, there isn't a way built into Outlook that will do this and i'm not aware of any addins that can do it.

  25. Susan

    How do I add folders to my tool bar so that when I am in an email I just click on the folder and the email will go into that folder

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can use the Move to folder button, with the 10 most recently used folders on the list, but you cant add specific folders to the QAT or ribbon. if you want buttons for specific folders you'd need to make a macro for each folder or if you have Outlook 2010 or 2013, use the Quick Steps buttons to move messages.

  26. Wayne

    Hi Diane, in Office 2010 Excel, is there a way of dragging the menu/toolbar [say cell borders] off the ribbon to have it sit in the spreadsheet for easy access [like used to be the case pre 2007?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      A few commands can be detached and float (or dock in a pane) but most cannot. Specifically on cell borders, the little floating toolbar that comes up on a right click has the borders command.

  27. alan

    I have recently had MS office 2010 put on my pc , this also affects ms outlook.
    On previous revisions of OFFICE & OUTLOOK I had a very useful icon on the top tool bar which enabled me to highlight text then change it from lowere cas e to UPPER CASE and vice versa but more importantly to ToGgLe TExt . Where is the function in office 2010 and outlook ? how do I add the icon to the toolbar ? Thanks

    1. Diane Poremsky

      That is the Change Text Case command. It's under all Commands in the Customize Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar options dialog in word. In Outlook, it's called Change Case - you need to open a new message to access it - it's not available in reading pane reply.

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