Custom actions in rules

Last reviewed on December 8, 2011

Custom actions are not included with Microsoft Outlook, but are add-ons in the form of .dll’s created with C++ that add new capabilities to Outlook rules. Examples include printing automatically or adding a recipient to your address book. For a list of custom actions you can add, see:

  • Custom Actions for Rules — Source code sample available for some actions, including a custom action in a rule creates a rule that will always run only when the Outlook client is running.

Most custom actions have Action value parameters that you must set with the Change button on the Select Custom Action dialog box.

Custom actions in Rules Wizard rules do not work in Outlook 2002. According to a note posted at Ornic, the leading developer of custom actions, Microsoft has acknowledged the bug and plans to fix it in an upcoming version.

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

7 responses to “Custom actions in rules”

  1. Gillian Steenburg

    I am VERY sorry to have upgraded my computer to windows 7, it is a useless program and definitely not user friendly. There is no longer an email program with it (outlook express) and third party sucks. I now own Microsoft Office 2010 another useless program and not user friendly. I have many years experience with window based programs beginning with windows 3.1. Now tell why no email any more besides so third parties make some money and because I now use outlook 2010 I can't even save my contacts that I trust to an address book. What is the point of this mess and I hope you fix it fast. By the way, these programs belong to my business so I am displeased both at home and in the office. Assistance please on how to do the easy things (made difficult now).
    G. Steenburg

    1. Robbie Stewart

      Gillian. You are correct about MS no longer including an e-mail program beginning with Windows 7 and now into Windows 8, especially with the popularity of free web mail services including MS's Outlook.com, but that isn't the reason why MS no longer includes one in the operating system. The reason why MS no longer includes an e-mail program in the OS is because several years ago, MS got sued by the federal government for violating the Sherman anti-trust laws by incorporating their Internet Explorer browser into and from Windows 98, ME, 2000 and XP OS's and now as a result of their settlement with the federal government, they have to give the customer the choice of installing their own browser and their e-mail program that they and they alone choose, so if you want MS's e-mail program that is meant for Windows 7, but MS cannot legally include in the OS, then download Windows Live Essentials, which includes the Windows Live Mail Desktop program, which is MS's replacement for Outlook Express in Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can get it at:

      http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials

  2. Outlook 2010

    The auto print rules won't print body of email on new emails as they arrive in inbox. I've tried reinstalling, using Sperry and MAPI auto print plugins, removing KB2509470, recreating the profile, creating new login, wiping hard drive and reinstall everything, swapping from IMAP to POP3 and back, checking with webhost, using scripts, removing antivirus, disabling firewall, WTF is your problem Microsoft? I bought this product specifically for this feature.

  3. Lori DeFord

    While creating a new rule, one of the things I'd like to do is open and print an attachment from a specific sender. Is there a plug-in or add-in for this?

    PS - You should consider pitching those nasty messages from people who cannot use English in its grammatically correct form, let alone utilize a program written in this decade.

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