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Outlook solutions

Visual Studio provides project templates you can use to create VSTO Add-ins for Microsoft Office Outlook. You can use VSTO Add-ins to automate Outlook, extend Outlook features, or customize the Outlook user interface (UI). For more information about VSTO Add-ins, see Architecture of VSTO Add-ins.

Applies to: The information in this topic applies to VSTO Add-in projects for Outlook. For more information, see Features available by Office application and project type.


Interested in developing solutions that extend the Office experience across multiple platforms? Check out the new Office Add-ins model. Office Add-ins have a small footprint compared to VSTO Add-ins and solutions, and you can build them by using almost any web programming technology, such as HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, and XML.

Create an Outlook VSTO Add-in Project

Create Outlook projects by using the Outlook Add-in project template in the New Project dialog box. This template includes required assembly references and project files.

For more information about how to create a VSTO Add-in project, see How to: Create Office projects in Visual Studio. For more information about the project templates, see Office project templates overview.

Outlook VSTO Add-in programming model

When you create an Outlook VSTO Add-in project, Visual Studio generates a class, called ThisAddIn, which is the foundation of your solution. This class provides a starting point for writing your code, and it also exposes the object model of Outlook to your VSTO Add-in.

For more information about the ThisAddIn class and other features you can use in a VSTO Add-in, see Program VSTO Add-ins.

Automate Outlook by using the Outlook object model

The Outlook object model exposes many types that you can use to automate Outlook. These types enable you to write code to accomplish common tasks:

  • Programmatically create and send e-mail messages.

  • Send new meeting requests.

  • Search for items in Outlook folders.

    For more information, see Outlook object model overview.

Customize the user interface of an Outlook application

Task For more information
Add custom tabs to the Ribbon of an Outlook Inspector. Ribbon overview
Add custom groups to a built-in tab in an Outlook Inspector. How to: Customize a built-in tab
Add a custom task pane that appears in an Outlook Inspector Custom task panes.
Add a form region that extends or replaces existing Outlook forms. Create Outlook form regions

For more information about customizing the UI of Outlook and other Microsoft Office applications, see Office UI customization.

Title Description
Outlook object model overview Provides an overview of the objects that are provided by the Outlook object model.
Create Outlook form regions Explains the tools provided by Visual Studio that make it easier for you to design, develop, and debug form regions.
Walkthrough: Create your first VSTO Add-In for Outlook Shows you how to create a VSTO Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook.
Outlook 2010 in Office development The area of the MSDN Library where you can find articles and reference documentation about developing Outlook solutions (not specific to Office development using Visual Studio).