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When I use Microsoft Word's File, Send To, Mail Recipient (as Attachment) command to send a Word document or when I right-click a file in Windows Explorer and choose Send To, Mail Recipient, the resulting email message is in plain text format and doesn't include my Outlook stationery. How can I send a typical Outlook message, with the file attached, from these applications?

The Send To feature uses a mechanism called Simple Messaging API (MAPI) to create a new message. As the name implies, Simple MAPI is a basic mail technique that creates a new message regardless of which program is set as the default mail program. (You can change the default in Microsoft Internet Explorer--IE--under Tools, Internet Options, Programs.) The side effect of this simplicity is that if Outlook is the default mail program, the resulting message is in plain text format and doesn't display any default stationery, signature, or custom form that you might have set up.

However, a couple of workarounds let you create a typical Outlook message when you send an attachment from Windows Explorer or Word. To send files from Windows Explorer, you can create a new shortcut to launch an Outlook message with your file attached. In the \documents and settings\%userprofile%\sendto folder, create a new shortcut that points to the copy of Outlook installed on your system and add the /a %1 command-line switch, which tells Outlook to create a new message and attach the file you choose. On my Microsoft Office 2003 system, the shortcut target looks like this:

"c:\program files
  \microsoft office\office11
  \outlook.exe" /a %1

You would, of course, need to use the file path on your system. You can name the shortcut Outlook. To use the shortcut, right-click a file in Windows Explorer, then choose Send To, Outlook (or whatever you named the shortcut). A new Outlook email message that has your default stationery and signature and the file as an attachment should appear.

The solution for Word is a short Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro. In Word, with a blank document open, press Alt+F11 to enter the VBA environment, and add the code that Web Listing 1 (http://www.winnetmag.com/microsoftexchangeoutlook, InstantDoc ID 41018) shows to the normal.dot template, either in the ThisDocument module or in a new module that you add. Use Tools, References in VBA to add a reference to the Microsoft Outlook library. After you add the code, you can customize one of the Word toolbars or the File, Send To menu by adding the macro to it.