25 Outlook 2016 Command Line Switches You Have to Know
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You can get more out of Outlook by learning how to use command line switches.

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The command line interface can be intimidating, especially for users who aren’t particularly familiar with it. However, it can also offer up major benefits if you’re willing to take some time to learn the ropes.

Command line switches can be used in Outlook to perform all kinds of operations. Whether you’re troubleshooting a problem, or just trying to speed up your normal usage, these switches offer serious advantages — and they’re not at all difficult to put into action, once you know how.

Here are 25 command line switches for Outlook to get started with.

Introduction to Run Commands

The easiest way to input a command line switch is by using a Run command, which is essentially a single-line version of the full command line interface Command Prompt vs. Windows PowerShell: What's the Difference? Command Prompt vs. Windows PowerShell: What's the Difference? Windows users can get by without using either the Command Prompt or PowerShell. But with Windows 10 and new features around the corner, maybe it's about time we learned. Read More .

In Windows 10, you can open a new Run command by typing Run into the search bar, or by using the shortcut Windows key + R.

Windows 10 Run Command Prompt Screenshot

You should be presented this window — simply input your desired switch into the Open field and press Enter to execute it.

Sending Emails

Command line switches can be used to expedite the process of sending emails How to Edit Email Fonts & Formatting in Microsoft Outlook How to Edit Email Fonts & Formatting in Microsoft Outlook Does your Outlook font keep changing? Maybe the font size is too small, for example when you reply to an email. This guide will help you fix your email and font formatting in Microsoft Outlook. Read More . To compose a new message, enter the following into the Run dialog:

outlook.exe /c ipm.note

It’s also possible to add the name of the email’s recipient by adding an extra /m switch onto the end of the command:

outlook.exe /c ipm.note /m dvader@empire.org

The above command yields the following result:

Windows 10 Outlook New Email Command Switch

We can even add an attachment How to Spot Unsafe Email Attachments: 6 Red Flags How to Spot Unsafe Email Attachments: 6 Red Flags Reading an email should be safe, but attachments can be harmful. Look for these red flags to spot unsafe email attachments. Read More by using the /a switch and specifying its disk location:

outlook.exe /m artoo@rebellion.net /a "C:\My Documents\deathstarplans.pdf"

Which results in the following email draft:

Windows 10 Outlook Add Attachment Command Switch

You may have noticed that we omitted the ipm.note switch from the previous command. Unless Outlook receives specific instructions to attach the file to a different type of item, the program will assume that the user is trying to draft an email, so in this case the switch is superfluous. To attach content to a different item, such as a task How to Use Outlook for Simple Task and Project Management How to Use Outlook for Simple Task and Project Management Outlook can work as a simple tool for managing projects and tasks. We show you how to set up Outlook Tasks to set reminders and due dates, assign to-dos, and track tie. Read More , we simply need to add another switch to the command.

Creating Other Items

By modifying the last element in the command used to send an email, we can can create a variety of other commonly used Outlook items:

  • ipm.contact — Creates a new contact.
  • ipm.stickynote — Creates a new note.
  • ipm.task — Creates a new task.
  • ipm.appointment — Creates a new appointment.
  • ipm.activity — Creates a new journal entry.

Cleaning Up Outlook

Anyone who’s worked as a system administrator 10 Silly Windows User Errors That Actually Happened 10 Silly Windows User Errors That Actually Happened Working in tech support is hard. Troubleshooting skills and patience are the corner stones of this craft. But even the most seasoned tech support pros would struggle with these unusual, and occasionally unbelievable, errors. Read More will be able to confirm that certain users have an unbridled capacity to wreak havoc on their email client. Whether they’ve been fiddling with settings that should go untouched, or simply stockpiling pointless reminders that clog up the works, cleaning up this kind of mess can be a frustrating process.

Fortunately, we can use switches to clean up some aspects of Outlook without even touching the program itself. The following command will remove all names and email addresses from the Autocomplete register:

outlook.exe /cleanautocompletecache

There are plenty of other things that we can clean in Outlook by switching out /cleanautocompletecache for another switch:

  • /cleancategories — Deletes any custom category names and restores category names to their default labels.
  • /cleanclientrules — Deletes client-based rules.
  • /cleanserverrules — Deletes server-based rules.
  • /cleanrules — Deletes both client-based and server-based rules.
  • /cleanreminders — Clears and regenerates reminders.
  • /cleanviews — Deletes any custom views and restores the defaults.

Opening and Finding Files

Switches can be used to open individual files in Outlook without having to navigate through an email inbox Let Outlook Rules Manage Your Email Inbox Let Outlook Rules Manage Your Email Inbox Clever alerts and filters can help you stay on top of your email inbox. Outlook desktop and Outlook.com offer a feature called "rules" and we'll show you how to set it up. Read More . The following command will open either a message file using the MSG format, or a saved search that uses the OSS format — just sub out “file-name”.

outlook.exe /f file-name

We can also swap out /f for /hol to open a HOL file, and /ical to open an ICS file.

However, sometimes you might not have the file name of the content that we’re looking for to hand. In this situation, you can use the /finder switch like this:

outlook.exe /finder

This will produce the window below, which can be used as a powerful search tool to find just about anything hidden away in Outlook.

Windows 10 Outlook Advanced Find Command Switch

Opening Outlook

Initializing Outlook from a Run command might shave a few seconds off the process, but that’s not the only reason you might want to use this technique. By taking advantage of switches, you can open Outlook and perform other useful tasks at the same time.

Enter the following into a Run dialog to open up Outlook with the Reading Pane disabled:

outlook.exe /nopreview

We can switch out /nopreview for /safe to disable both the Reading Pane and any active toolbar customizations.

Alternatively, we can initialize Outlook and open a specific folder by using the following command:

outlook.exe /select folder-name

Just replace “folder-name” with the title of a particular folder, or a reference like outlook:calendar.

One especially time-saving switch is /sniff, which opens Outlook, looks for new meeting requests 15 Free Meeting Agenda Templates for Microsoft Word 15 Free Meeting Agenda Templates for Microsoft Word These free meeting agenda templates for Microsoft Word can get you off to a great start for any type of meeting. Read More in the inbox, and adds anything it finds to the calendar.

We use it like this:

outlook.exe /sniff

In the event that Outlook crashes, there’s a switch that can attempt to open the same profile and folders that were active before the event:

outlook.exe /restore

Finally, if you want to initialize Outlook by using an Outlook window that’s already open (if one exists), you can use this command:

outlook.exe /recycle

Further Steps Into the Command Line Interface

Once you’ve used a few of these switches with Outlook, you’ll hopefully find that the command line isn’t as fearsome as it looks from a distance.

Getting to grips with the concept of inputting commands is the first step toward carrying out more complex tasks from the command line. Next, why not try using it to choose the perfect emoji How to Find the Perfect Emoji Using the Command Line How to Find the Perfect Emoji Using the Command Line Emoji are fun, but sometimes you have trouble finding the perfect one. Here's a geeky tool to help you out next time that happens. Read More , take control of your network 2 Networking Command Line Tools Everyone Should Know 2 Networking Command Line Tools Everyone Should Know Every computer user, regardless of which operating system you use, should know these command line tools. Read More , or speed up some common Windows processes 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More .

The command line is a very powerful tool, and with a little bit of experience, you’ll soon be using it to your advantage.

Do you have another command line switch for Outlook that you want to share with other users? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Explore more about: Command Prompt, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Outlook.

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  1. Sunny
    November 19, 2018 at 11:40 am

    what switch we should use for clean free/busy data...

    or any resolution for below error.

    Outlook 2016 | "suggestions cannot be provided because free/busy data could not retrieved"

  2. Sunny
    November 19, 2018 at 11:32 am

    which command do we use for 2016 outlook for cleaning free/busy data

  3. Michael
    November 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Very useful command with clear description.... i suggest to other users

  4. ceooph
    June 21, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    To open a shared calendar (from a shared mailbox)
    outlook.exe /select "outlook:///calendar".
    Be careful, calendar is language sensitive, for french it's calendrier.
    Double quotes it's for spaces in

    Hope this help, enjoy to sharing.

    Allez les bleus, ce soir c'est match France/Pérou (Russia 2018) ;-)

  5. manal
    August 3, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    how to attach multiple files

  6. Ramu
    September 18, 2016 at 11:18 am

    The finder flag is awesome!!

  7. Steve
    September 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    You missed /cleanfreebusy which cleans up any free/busy data