How to Send Personalized Mass Emails in Outlook With Mail Merge

Saikat Basu 25-07-2017

Mail Merge is like one of those old friends you haven’t called for years. Underestimated and ignored, until the day you need them badly.


You just don’t realize its potential until you’ve been delegated the job of managing a few hundred invites at the last minute. Maybe, they are a bunch of wedding invites or a red alert to an impending zombie apocalypse. Or, it could be something innocuous – like printing a bunch of address labels and name badges.

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Don’t worry. You can send personalized mass emails with Microsoft Outlook 2016 in a few minutes with a few clicks. And save the day.

When Should You Use Mail Merge?

Before I leap ahead, mail merge is used when you want to create several documents that are basically the same but where each document contains unique details. The emails share the same format and the same text and graphics if any. For example, invitations where the text stays the same but the name, address, or even the subject bits are unique for each.

Mail merge — unlike emailing a message to a group of people — makes each recipient of the message the sole recipient.

The best use I have found so far for them – use the mass email as a job hunting power tool with custom details for each employer.


The mail merge feature uses two parts:

  • The main constant document (here: Microsoft Word) where you write the body of the email.
  • The changeable data source (here: Microsoft Outlook Contacts) that is usually the address and the name of the recipient.

These two are “merged”. With Outlook being a part of the Microsoft Office suite, one can use this feature to send mails in bulk, each personalized for a different contact. It isn’t spamming, although I guess in the wrong hands, mail merge can be used to carpet bomb with unsolicited emails.

Microsoft Office allows you to use different data sources for the address details – for instance, you can use an Excel spreadsheet How to Print Labels with Mail Merge in Microsoft Word and Excel Are you still using copy-and-paste to create labels, name badges, or other personalized mass communications? Mail Merge, a simple Microsoft Office automation tool, will let you print your labels in seconds. Read More or even an Access database. Here, you will use your Microsoft Outlook contacts to send forth the emails.

Prepare Your Pool of Contacts for the Mail Merge

So, let’s break down the steps after you launch Microsoft Outlook.


1. Open People to display the list of your contacts.

Select the contacts (CTRL + Click) you want to include in the personalized email list. To make it easier to manage a huge list, use the Sort options available (click on the dropdown arrow next to All). To make it more manageable, you can sort by Categories via the same dropdown.

Do note: Mail Merge does not work with distribution lists.

Choose Your Contacts


2. Select Mail Merge from Ribbon > Home > Actions Group.

Click on Mail Merge

3. In the Mail Merge Contacts screen that you should see now, choose Only selected contacts if the personalized email is meant for a select batch of contacts. Under the Merge options section down below, select the following parameters.

  • Document type: Form Letters
  • Merge to: Email
  • Message Subject Line: The subject line will not change for all the emails.

Options for Mail Merge


4. Click OK and then Microsoft Word will launch for you to compose the personalized message.

Write the Personalized Message in Microsoft Word

The Mailings tab on the Ribbon is on view front and center. Here, you will want to start your mass email with a personalized greeting line. From the Mailings tab in Microsoft Word, select Greeting Line.

Insert The Greeting Line in Microsoft Word

As you can see, the dialog box has been pre-populated the name of Mr. Randall. This is just a placeholder for names from your contacts list. Just below that, you can check a preview of the names from your list. You can customize the entries with the options given here.

Preview the Greeting Line

Do note that the merge fields come from the column headings in your mailing list. So, if there is a mismatch, use Match Fields to ensure that the merge stays accurate. If a field you want says “Not Matched”, select the drop-down list for that field and then choose the column name that matches that column in your list.

When you click OK and exit from here, a placeholder for the greeting line (Dear Mr.…) is placed in the Word document.

Remember this: You can enter extra information to the document with additional fields.

Click on Insert Merge Field. This data must be present in your original data source that is in this case, the Contacts information in Microsoft Outlook. Examples include – home address, home phone, job title etc. You can see the complete list when you click the tiny dropdown arrow.

Insert new Merge Field

Format the Greeting. To format the greeting line the way you want, highlight the whole field, including the marks at each end. Go to the Home tab and use Font settings. Also, set the Line Spacing to make sure the line spacing matches the spacing in the rest of your document.

Type the Message Now

The beginning of the message is the <<GreetingLine>> placeholder and/or any other field you inserted with the help of extra merge fields. Compose your message. Remember, this is mass emailing at its best. So, make sure to use all the email etiquette you can muster.

How to Send Personalized Mass Emails in Outlook With Mail Merge Microsoft Outlook Email Body

When the body of the email is done, click on Finish & Merge > Send E-mail Messages.

How to Send Personalized Mass Emails in Outlook With Mail Merge Microsoft Outlook Send Email Message

The Merge to E-mail dialog box opens. Click OK.

Mail Merge

MS Word then does the job of automatically posting the emails in a flash. Word sends an individual email to each address. You can’t CC or BCC other recipients, and you cannot add attachments to the email.

You can save the document you used for the mail merge, as it also saves the link with the data source i.e. the contacts. When you open the mail merge document, choose Yes when Word prompts you to keep the connection.

Add This Timesaver to Your Email Toolset

Once you get the hang of it, the whole process takes barely a few minutes from start to finish. In the same time, it takes to compose an email for just a single person, now you can do so for a group. It doesn’t matter how large the group is.

Also, it is a good group email behavior to use a recipient’s name as a greeting. It lends a more personal touch to the email. Something, a CC-ed email sorely lacks.

Next, you can try mail merge to print letters, labels, and envelopes. You might also want to learn about easy methods to merge Microsoft Outlook PST files How to Merge Microsoft Outlook PST Files: 5 Easy Methods An Outlook PST file contains all the data for your inbox. If you have multiple Outlook PST files, how can you merge them all? Read More . Hungry for more Outlook tips? Then it’s time to explore little-known features of Outlook 10 Hidden Features of Microsoft Outlook That Are Rarely Used Microsoft Outlook has a ton of features. Use these lesser known Outlook features and improve your email workflow Read More !

Explore more about: Contact Management, Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, Mail Merge, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Outlook.

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  1. Cory Cantu
    June 15, 2019 at 3:21 pm


  2. Nilova
    September 11, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    I wanted to know if there is a limit to the no. of recipients on Mail merge with Outlook, for e.g if i need to send it out to about 600 emails, is that okay?

    September 20, 2017 at 6:50 pm


  4. Judy
    August 30, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Is there a limit to how many emails you can send to at one time?

  5. Raige
    June 28, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Very helpful article. You just saved me from several hours of copy-pasting! I had to send out marketing e-mails to 7,800+ recipients and this made the whole process a whole lot simpler. Thank you very much!

  6. OA
    January 30, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Can i send an e-mail from non-outlook mail account via MS Outlook 2016? For example, a company mail, or gmail etc.
    If answer is yes, how?

  7. AJ
    December 16, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Great post Saikat - very helpful with easy to follow instructions!

    • Saikat Basu
      December 23, 2016 at 8:11 am

      Thanks AJ. Glad it helped.

        June 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

        Can you please tell how to add attachments in mail merge?

  8. Arpan Shah
    October 12, 2016 at 11:34 am

    You can simply signup on saleshandy and start sending personalized mass emails from your own company email address.

  9. Abhik
    June 25, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Can we send attachments with it

    • Saikat Basu
      June 27, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      No we can't send attachments with it, Abhik. You have to rely on thrid-party tools for that.

      • Jeremy Jacobson
        July 12, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        What kind of third party tools do I need? I want to send individual PDF attachment's to the respective owners and the email addresses are located in an excel spreadsheet. Is there such a tool for that?

  10. Tomek
    April 14, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    My question is still how you can use multiple addresses for Mail merge function in Outlook? Tomek

  11. Saang
    March 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Hello there, I wanted to send those contacts those who are in my excel sheet lists except my outlook email contact list. Does outlook mail merge allow me to do so or is there any option to extract the contact lists from excel sheets.

  12. Raji James
    December 16, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for this great article. I'm having a slight problem however. I've created a great newsletter style template within Outlook (via Mailstyler) and this method doen't allow me to create my mass email through the Outlook template. (.oft).

    I hope that makes sense and any help / advice would be much appreciated.

  13. Dan Larsen
    December 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Saikat, This is an awesome post! Thanks much. I just sent out a mass personal mailing and it went out perfectly. All I did was follow your instructions. Thanks again for your thorough explanation. Dan Larsen

    • Saikat Basu
      December 8, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Glad it helped Dan. Thanks for your nice comment.

  14. Anonymous
    October 30, 2015 at 6:20 am

    I want to keep few people in carbon copy(CC) and Blind Carbon copy(BCC). So is it possible with automails or not.

    Pls. help.

  15. Navin Sahni
    March 5, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I want to send different pdf as attachment to each recipient; sort of invoice. I have a list of persons with email id to whom I can send these files. Please note that it is not same attachment file that is being sent. Please suggest how it can be done

    • Saikat
      March 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      My guess is that it will be too complicated to set it up with something like VBA programming. As the attachments are all different, it is something I am also not familiar with.

    • Samantha
      April 9, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I have also been searching for a way to send different pdfs as attachments to individual recipients... and I have just discovered Mail Merge Toolkit. Does anyone have any experience with this add-on?

  16. mark
    February 24, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Is there a way to do the above email merge with adding attachments i.e. pdf file?

    • Saikat
      February 25, 2015 at 4:09 am

      You have the option to insert a file attachment, but the outgoing email will include just the file shortcut, not the file itself.

      An easier way could be to use Outlook Mail Merge Attachment. It's a free tool. Please note that I haven't tried this out myself.

      • Arpan Shah
        October 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

        Or you can use Saleshandy. Using SalesHandy you can send & track attachments in mail merge campaign.

  17. Shubham Negi
    December 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Is there any kind of limitation for sending mails with the help of the mail merge process through MICROSOFT OUTLOOK ..

  18. Lucy
    January 27, 2010 at 6:04 am


    I did the whole process fine until I got to the last 'ok' and I got an error message:

    ampi32.dll is an invalid Extended MAPI library

    ...and then...

    Mail is not installed on your system

    Do you know what these mean?

    Thank you!

    • Saikat
      January 28, 2010 at 4:53 am

      Which version of Outlook are you using? One solution could be to take the mapi32.dll file from another Outlook (someone else's) of the same version and copy it to your Office11 folder. See if it works...
      You can also try a download from here DLL Files

  19. Shibu P
    January 24, 2010 at 12:35 am

    I am currently looking out for a new job, what I do everyday in the morning is check out the newspapers, and collect the email address, and send out individual mails (the body is the same only the subject line and the address vary).
    Now my question is, Can i feed all the mail address to one execl sheet(or some other application) and then use gmail/hotmail/yahoo to send out personalized mails to each of the company.

  20. zahen
    December 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks Saikat, this really helps!
    Outlook is still a cool email management/campaign software for sure, b/c of the ability to access all your email accounts at the same time. I find it very helpful.

  21. Saikat
    November 13, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    No, Jamie...I don't think you can do both.

  22. Jamie
    November 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I used this wizard in outlook to send personal invitations to a work event to company leaders. I would like to be able to also cc their administrative assistance.

    Is there a feature in the wizard that allows you to send a personalized email while also using a cc field?

  23. Dave
    October 23, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    This is an excellent tool/work around...., but is there a way to add an attachment???

    • Saikat
      October 23, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      Normally. no. But with a macro, yes. I have given the link below in an answer to munkypint'scomment.

  24. Dhanesh
    July 25, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Frankly speaking I do not have good knowledge of macros and totally blank on the Visual Basics (VBA).

    Guess, will have to use the personalize mail as a plain email only.

    Any way, thanks for your reply

  25. Saikat
    July 21, 2009 at 1:48 am

    To answer both your questions (or to confess inability), I couldn't find a solution to your query using the mail merge approach. Possibly, macros can do the job but that involves programming. Their is an addin called Mail Merge Toolkit which can handle the common CC part. But it's not free so I couldn't test it.

  26. Dhanesh
    July 15, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Truly useful article, thanks! for the knowledge.

    Can I also know information regarding how to add importance, request for read receipt and delivery receipt for this personalised mass email?

  27. Saikat
    July 12, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Try it out with this info given in the MS Knowledge Based. I haven't tried it out with so many recipents :)

  28. David
    July 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Hi, I recently got a job as a summer intern at a purchasing group and found this very useful for sending out emails to multiple vendors without showing the email of every vendor I send it to in the "To" field. Problem is, I have ~4500 vendors I need to send emails to and this method seems to require the recipients to be in your contacts. I've had to look up emails for many of these companies and the rest were in a database and I don't want to have to add all the companies as contacts.

    So my question is, is there another method of mass email where you don't need the recipients in your contacts while still only showing the email of the person who recieves it in the "To" field?

    • Chet
      January 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Do a web search for "import contacts to Outlook from Excel". I have the same problem and found some instructions on how to do it. I think you can easily set it up so that they end up on a different contact list than your standard contact list (coworkers, friends, etc.).

      Hope that helps.

  29. munkypint
    June 30, 2009 at 3:03 am

    I quite like doing it directly from world using and excel file and mail merging. This can be done with both outlook and Thinderbird. These need to be installed to be able to do it with Gmail. It would be awesome if google docs could be used with gmail to do the merge.

    Also does anyone know how to make attachements to the mass mail merge?


    • Saikat
      July 2, 2009 at 1:08 am

      Normally no. But this article helps - It's a bit complicated. You have to set up a macro.

  30. aneeskA
    June 29, 2009 at 12:04 am

    is there a way to do the same in Thunderbird?

    -- aneeskA

    • Aibek
      June 29, 2009 at 1:47 am
      • aneeskA
        June 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm

        Thanks mate .

        I am reading the post "How to Set Up Mozilla Thunderbird to Send Mass Emails"

    • Saikat
      June 29, 2009 at 5:06 am

      Yes, that's the one as Aibek says. In fact, a post on that should be out in a couple of days time. Watch out for it.

  31. Bluegravity
    June 28, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    i thought Outlook died quite long ago =P
    Well... nice article, but i would still prefer Gmail, creating mail merge was okay in 1990's. not anymore...

    • Saikat
      June 29, 2009 at 5:13 am

      Nopes...its still a very very popular application. Gmail and Outlook have different approaches to email management.Gmail is increasingly getting better but Microsoft is very much there too. A lot of people I know, use MS Outlook for business communication and Gmail for personal ones. It's good for us isn't it...with all the offline and online choices for email.