I have a number of situations where I need to respond to an email with a canned responses (sometimes with a few modifications).

How can I do this with Outlook 2003?

  • I assume you mean a preset reply? (I actually had to google for the meaning of canned?) Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 15:47
  • yes - Canned, Pre-set, Standard, Form-Letter, etc. are all equivalent in this case
    – BIBD
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 15:57

8 Answers 8


While all of the other solutions mentioned are good and valid, I've found the easiest one to implement for my less-than-technical officemates has been to make "signatures" that contain the canned response. From there, its a simple Insert -> Signature -> [pick response]

Just make sure you don't accidentally turn one of the responses into your default sig...

This tends to work best if you're in an environment where you can't install an add-in, and you don't want to go programming macros for all your friends too.


I would use an application like "Auto Hot Key" utility. It allows you to assign all of your canned responses to a particular hotkey sequence. It allows you to define so many hot keys, that you should be able to cover quite a few canned responses. All you do is press the key combination you have configured and it pastes the content which you have pre-defined. Very very handy for anything repetitive or duplicative in nature.


Take a look at QuickParts in Outlook 2007 (If that is what you are using).

This is a good lifehacker.com article on the subject.

  • 1
    +1 For article link. I learn something new everyday. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 15:49
  • That looks like a very handy tool!
    – Axxmasterr
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 16:28

I've been using personal forms in Outlook 2007.

To create the canned response I create a new message and then Save As... an Outlook Template (*.oft).

To send the canned response I go to Tools > Forms > Choose Form > Look In: User Templates in File System > choose the one I need.

Of course, I use Auto Hot Key to perform the above actions.

  • +1 for the instructions for 2007, I'm still using 2003
    – BIBD
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 18:32

You can use Outlook Rules for this. You can configure these to check for a particular subject or keyword and then automatically send a reply back based on a template.

However if it needs to be modified first I suspect you will need to create some Outlook Macros to handle this.


Two helpful methods I just found. First solution is slightly better, IMO:

Outlook Quick Parts Technique - Use the new Outlook 2007+ feature "Quick Parts" functionality to create a reusable block of text which you can then insert whenever needed. (For Outlook 2003 users, the similar AutoText feature can be substituted, less the ability to keep formatting.)

Open up a new mail message as if you are going to write someone an email. In that window, start typing a canned response that you often give to your customers. Once you are finished, select the entire response (hi-light the text). Under the "Insert" tab, click on "Quick Parts" as shown below.

After clicking on "Quick Parts," select the option "Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery..." A new window will pop up that will allow you to assign this to a category if you want, and change the display name.

Make sure you keep the Gallery listed as "Quick Parts." Once you're done, click the "OK" button. You have just created your first canned response. Back in your email, go to a new line (or delete the previous text you copied into "Quick Parts"). When you're ready to insert you canned response, click on "Quick Parts" under the "Insert" tab (like you did to add a new canned reply), and click on the response you want added from the list that appears.

After clicking on that box showing your canned response, it will automatically be inserted into your email. If you want to add more canned responses just type them out and go through the previous steps I mentioned above to add it to Outlook's "Quick Parts."

Another tip to help improve your Outllook productivity, is to right-click on "Quick Parts" and select "Add to Quick Access Toolbar." Now you don't even need to click on the "Insert" tab to get to Quick Parts. Quick Parts is always available in the Toolbar as shown below.

Outlook 2007 Drafts Copy Technique - Likely works in earlier versions as well. Simply save your canned response email as a Draft, and duplicate edit to edit a new instance whenever you need to customize and send one.

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Go to the Navigation Pane.
  3. Right-click on Drafts and select New Folder.
  4. Label the new folder something like Canned Responses or Premade Messages.
  5. If you are going to create messages for both home and work, you might consider creating subdirectories for your new folder.
  6. Create a New Message as you normally would.
  7. Use a proper (but descriptive) subject for the message.
  8. Save the new message (don’t address it or send it!).
  9. After you have created your premade messages, drag them from Drafts into your Canned Responses folder (or subfolder).

Now the next time you need to send one of these out, go to the Canned Responses folder, right-click, drag and drop the email into Drafts and select Copy from the context menu. Select the copied email, address it and send it out.

  • 2
    Could you post a summary of the solutions here? We prefer you don't just link it Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 19:34
  • 2
    @SimonSheehan - Added summaries and steps/excerpts. Thanks for the tip.
    – Ryan D
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 17:56

There is an add-in called Email Templates (www.emailtemplates.com). You can use "Quote Tempaltes" to easily create canned responses. The best part is that if you are using exchange or IMAP, the templates can be shared across all of the users with access.


Write a macro:

(Note, this applies to Outlook 2007, but I imagine that it won't be too different in 2003)

Open up Tools>Macro>Visual Basic Editor, double click ThisOutlookSession, and paste this (or similar) in...

Public Sub CannedResponseInfo()
   'Insert text
   Set objDoc = Application.ActiveInspector.WordEditor
   Set objSel = objDoc.Windows(1).Selection
   objSel.TypeText Text:="Hello," & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
       "Thank you for bla bla bla " & _
       "And bla bla bla." & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
       "Bla bla ispum florum diddle doo," & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _
       "Yours," & vbCrLf & vbCrLf & _

   'bonus: insert attachment
   Call item.Attachments.Add("C:\Users\Public\Documents\topsecret.pdf")
End Sub

To use this, you first have to hit reply on the message you want to reply to, then you can run the macro.

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