Making the Journal work in Outlook 2013

Last reviewed on February 8, 2014

I'm going to begin this by saying that I really think it's time to find another solution for journaling. I have no idea how many more versions we'll see before Microsoft rips Journal's heart out. It's time to move on to something that is going to be around longer.

On the other hand, it's possible that Microsoft has removed all they can without breaking backwards compatibility, in which case, the Journal module might be mostly left alone for another 10 years. I don't have a crystal ball and Microsoft isn't saying anything more than the "journal is deprecated" and deprecated features have a way of hanging on, thanks to their need to provide backwards compatibility.

OneNote is one possible option as a replacement for the journal. I have a VBA sample to Copy Outlook Journal Entries to OneNote.

For those users who aren't ready to move on.... I'll share some facts about the state of the Journal in Outlook 2013 and workarounds to make it more useful and less broken.

Opening the Journal folder

The Journal button was removed from the Navigation pane / Peeks row. The keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+8 works or you can select the Journal from the Folder list.

Currently, a Journal button can be added to the ribbon or QAT.

  1. Open the Options dialog to Customize Ribbon or Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Select All Commands in Choose Commands From:
  3. Find Journal (click in the commands list and press J)
  4. Add a New Group then Add journal to the group.

Add the Journal command to the ribbon

If the Journal command is missing in your version of Outlook, you can use VBA to switch to the Journal and assign it to a QAT or ribbon button.

Sub GotoJournalFolder()
    Set Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder = _
End Sub

Creating New Journal Items

The New Journal button was removed from the New Items command and the shortcut to create a new journal item from any folder (Ctrl+Shift+J) was removed. You can either browse the New Item button and open the More Forms command and select Journal, switch to the Journal folder first, or use VBA to open a new journal item and assign it to a QAT or ribbon button.

If you have Outlook 2013 v.15.4535, New Journal Entry is listed in ribbon customization. Use the steps above to custom the ribbon or QAT. Look for New Journal Entry under All Commands. If you have an earlier version of Outlook, you need to install updates.

Sub NewJournal()

Set objFolder = Session.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderJournal)
Set objItem = objFolder.Items.Add("IPM.Activity")
' start the timer automatically
End Sub

New Journal entry for Contact

This code sample creates a new journal entry for the selected contact. To work with open or selected contacts, get the GetCrurrentItem function from Work with open item or selected item and use Set oContact = GetCurrentItem() instead of Set oContact = ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1).

Sub CreateJournalForcontact()

If TypeName(ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)) = "ContactItem" Then
 Set oContact = ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)

Dim oJournal As JournalItem
Set oJournal = Application.CreateItem(olJournalItem)
 With oJournal
 .Companies = oContact.CompanyName
 .ContactNames = oContact.FullName
 .Body = oContact.MailingAddress
 .Categories = oContact.Categories

End With
  Set oJournal = Nothing
MsgBox "Sorry, you need to select a contact"
End If

End Sub

New Journal entry for email message

This variation of the macro creates a new journal entry for the selected email message. As with contacts, you can use it with open or selected items if you use the GetCurrentItem function and change the Set oMail line.

Sub CreateJournalForMail()
Dim oMail As MailItem

If TypeName(ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)) = "MailItem" Then
 Set oMail = ActiveExplorer.Selection.Item(1)

Set oJournal = Application.CreateItem(olJournalItem)
 With oJournal
 .ContactNames = oMail.SenderName
 .Body = oMail.Body
 .Categories = oMail.Categories
 .Type = "Email"

End With
  Set oJournal = Nothing
MsgBox "Sorry, you need to select a message"
End If

End Sub

Setting Journal Options

Journal options were removed from Outlook 2013's File, Options dialog, meaning that there is no UI around to edit the settings. This included the dialog where you could choose to journal email from specific contacts, and automatically create journal entries for Office documents.

In applications that support VBA, you can create journal entries automatically using VBA. See Create a journal entry for Word documents in Outlook 2013 for a sample that creates a journal entry when you open a Word document.

Ah... well what about creating the journal keys in the registry yourself? I tried and so far, no luck. You need to create at keys in Outlook\Options\Journal, SharedTools\, and Outlook\, possibly other keys as well. (I'll keep trying.)


Contact activities were broken in Outlook 2010 and completely gone from Outlook 2013. You'll need to use Instant Search or custom views to find journaled items.

You can use VBA to create an Instant search in the journal folder. Use the VBA code samples at Use Instant search to find messages from a contact, then select a contact and run the macro. With the journal tweaks, the macro will open the journal folder and search for the contact's name in the Contacts field.

Link contacts to Outlook items

Contacts field in Properties

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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