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Introduction - Open Applications from Outlook

Opening an Application from Outlook is simple using the VBA Shell function. Linking the Outlook Macro to your Ribbon makes it even more convenient.

When you’re in the office, you’re constantly reading and responding to emails. Why not make better use of your time by launching your favorite applications straight from Microsoft Outlook? The VBA Shell function allows you to do just that.

Example - Open Applications from Outlook

Launch VBScript from Outlook

This example launches our VBScript Timer, but can be modified to open any application.

Sub DailyTimer()
'Run timer
Shell "Explorer.exe ""C:\VBScripts\Timer.vbs""", 1
End Sub

Tutorial - Open Applications from Outlook

  1. Create Outlook Macro
    1. Enable Developer Tab
    2. Open Visual Basic for Applications Editor
      Two options
      1. Press “Alt+F11”
      2. Click “Visual Basic” on the Developer tab.
    3. From the Editor, Click “Insert” at the top, then “Module”
      1. You can rename the module in the Properties window, if you’d like.
        The default name is Module1
    4. Paste Launch Application from Outlook example to the editor
    5. Save and exit the editor
  2. Add Button to Outlook Ribbon
    1. From Outlook 2010, click File
    2. Options
    3. Customize Ribbon
      1. Click “New Tab”
      2. Rename “New Tab (Custom)” to wellsr.com (Click Rename button)
      3. Rename “New Group (Custom)” to Launch Applications (Click Rename button)
        1. You do not have to click an image here.
      4. Click the drop down arrow under “Choose commands from:”
      5. Click “Macros”

        Add Outlook Macro to Custom Group

      6. Click Project1.DailyTimer
      7. Click “Add > >”
        1. Make sure Launch Applications (Custom) is selected
      8. Click “Rename” to Rename Project1.Dailytimer
        1. Rename to Timer
        2. Select a Symbol

          Add Symbol to Outlook Ribbon

        3. Press OK to exit “Rename” screen.

          Rename Outlook Ribbon Button

      9. Press OK to exit “Outlook Options” screen

That’s it! You’re all set. With a click of the mouse you’ll now be able to launch your application from your Outlook Ribbon.

Custom Outlook Ribbon

For more on how to use the VBA Shell function, visit the VBA Shell Function Tutorial

Application Ideas - Open Applications from Outlook

  1. Launch Excel
  2. Execute Timesheet program
  3. Open Terminal to Connect to Server
  4. Master Shortcut to Open all your most frequently used applications


Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment and let me know how I can help you. Remember - Automate Responsibly.

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About Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells is a Nuclear Engineer and professional VBA Developer. He is the lead developer of several VBA applications, including PDF VBA - a leading Excel Add-in for exporting Excel Objects, like charts and tables, to PDFs. Discover more of his popular Excel Add-ins, including Mouse To Macro and CF Shapes, at his dedicated Excel Add-ins page.