Custom URL Handler for Outlook 2016 on Mac

tl;dr:

To make use of outlook://msg-id style links, jump over to GitHub and grab the tools!


Update 2015-11-08: The latest Outlook updates have broken the message-id links, so please do not use this method for linking to email messages for now.


As I want to use the services over at MindMeister more excessively for creative project and task management, I was wondering how one could connect Outlook 2016 and MindMeister maps / MeisterTask tasks. This is nothing I think will be used a lot, but still, it’d be nice to have the option.

As you may know, there never was such thing in Outlook for Mac. And Outlook 2016 sadly is no exception. Even the scripting capabilities have been drastically reduced and the Scripts menu was removed completely.

I started experimenting with linking to the email with a file:// link – which seemed to work alright from anywhere but browsers. For security reasons, file:// style links are blocked in all major browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) – so this wasn’t an option.

The initial idea for a custom URL handler came from the simplicity and cleverness of how they are used to link between apps on iOS (and Android?). So the idea is to create something similar for E-Mail on Outlook for Mac.

The final solution basically consists of two scripts. One is to generate the link (basically just extracting the message id) and the other is to handle the URL. AppleScripts can be saved as applications which can, in turn, provide custom URL handlers.

How to use the custom URL handler?

The code together with the ready-to-use scripts are over at GitHub – contributions welcome!

  1. Download the OutlookURLHandler.app file and place it into /Applications
  2. Run the application once for it to register the URL Handler
  3. You’re all set for outlook://msg-id style links!

To be able to quickly and easily generate the links and put them in the clipboard, I created a second script, MsgLinkToClpbrd which puts the message link that calls the handler in your clipboard.

  1. Download MsgLinkToClpbrd.scpt from GitHub
  2. Create the folder structure ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/Microsoft/Outlook and place the script there
  3. Use BetterTouchTool, FastScripts or any other tool to assign a hotkey to the script execution from within Outlook.

Now you can use direct links to your emails from anywhere on your Mac, with simple, plain-text links in the outlook://msg-id notation.


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