How to Enable Outlook Macros: (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Amit Bansal

Outlook macros can be powerful tools for automating tasks, increasing productivity, and streamlining email management.

However, by default, Microsoft Outlook has macro functionality disabled for security reasons. If you want to harness the full potential of Outlook macros, you need to enable them.

In this blog post, we will explore the world of Outlook macros and guide you through the process of enabling them.

We’ll cover the benefits of using macros, the security considerations involved, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to enable macros in Outlook.

Enabling macros in Outlook opens up a world of possibilities for customizing and automating your email workflow.

From creating personalized email templates to automatically organizing incoming messages, macros can revolutionize the way you use Outlook.

Join us as we dive into the world of Outlook macros and learn how to unleash their potential. Get ready to boost your productivity and efficiency with this valuable feature.

Enabling Macros in Outlook

Outlook macros are snippets of code that can automate repetitive tasks and improve efficiency in your email management.

To enable or disable these macros in Outlook, you need to access the Trust Center, navigate to the Macro Settings, and choose the appropriate security level.

Let’s walk you through the process step by step.

Accessing the Trust Center

First, open Outlook and click on the File tab located in the top-left corner of the screen.

File Tab

From there, select Options to open the Outlook Options window.


In the left-hand panel of the window, click on Trust Center.

This is the central hub to manage your security and privacy settings in Outlook, including the settings for macros.

Navigating to Macro Settings

Once you have accessed the Trust Center, click on the Trust Center Settings button in the right-hand panel to open the Trust Center settings window.

In the list of options on the left side, select Macro Settings. This is the section where you can control the security settings for macros in your Outlook environment.

Selecting Macro Security Level

Now that you’re in the Macro Settings section, you’ll see a list of different security levels to choose from.

These can help you strike a balance between maintaining security and enabling useful macros in your Outlook experience.

  • Disable all macros without notification: This option deactivates all macros, and you won’t receive any warnings or notifications about them. Use this setting if you don’t plan to use macros at all and want maximum security.
  • Disable all macros with notification: With this setting enabled, macros will still be deactivated, but you’ll receive a notification if a macro is present in an email or attachment. This way, you can choose to enable specific macros on a case-by-case basis.
  • Disable all macros except digitally signed macros: This option allows you to use macros that have been authenticated with a digital signature from a trusted source. All other macros will remain disabled.
  • Enable all macros (not recommended): This option activates all macros, regardless of their source. While this can be convenient if you use many macros, it is not recommended due to potential security risks.

Carefully consider your needs and the potential risks associated with each level before selecting your macro security settings.

Once you have made your decision, click OK to apply your changes.

Developer Tab

Activating Developer Tab

In Microsoft Outlook, the Developer tab is not visible by default. To enable it, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the File tab in the ribbon.
  2. Select Options from the menu.
  3. In the Outlook Options window, click on Customize Ribbon.
  4. Under the Main Tabs section, check the box next to Developer.
  5. Click OK to confirm the changes.

By activating the Developer tab, we have now gained access to tools, such as writing macros, using ActiveX controls, and more.

This is particularly helpful when we want to automate certain tasks in Microsoft Outlook.

Accessing Visual Basic Editor

After enabling the Developer tab, it’s time to access the Visual Basic Editor, where we’ll create and manage our macros. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Developer tab in the ribbon.
  2. In the Code group, click on the Visual Basic button.
  3. The Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) window will open.

In the Visual Basic Editor, we can create new macros, edit existing ones, or even debug and run our macros.

This powerful programming environment allows us to customize Microsoft Outlook by automating repetitive tasks, streamlining processes, and achieving better efficiency in our daily work.

Remember to always be cautious when using macros, as they can potentially pose security risks if not handled correctly.

It’s important to only use macros from trusted sources, and make sure our Outlook security settings are up to date.

Handling Macro Files

Saving and Opening Macro Files

When working with macro files in Outlook, it is essential to know how to save and open them correctly.

We recommend saving your VBA macro files as .otm files, which allows you to store and manage your macros efficiently.

To save a macro, click the File tab in the Visual Basic Editor (VBE) and choose Save Project. Name your file and choose the .otm file type before clicking Save.

To open an existing macro file in Outlook, click the File tab in the VBE, and select Open.

Navigate to the location of your .otm file, select it, and click Open. This will load your macro into Outlook, allowing you to run or modify the VBA code.

Trusted Locations

Ensuring the security of macro files is crucial, especially when dealing with potentially harmful files.

One way to enhance security when working with VBA macros is to store them in trusted locations.

Trusted locations are folders on your computer specifically designated to store secure files.

To set up a trusted location in Outlook:

  1. Click the File tab and select Options.
  2. In the Outlook Options dialog box, click Trust Center in the left navigation pane.
  3. Click the Trust Center Settings button.
  4. In the Trust Center dialog box, click Trusted Locations in the left navigation pane.
  5. Click Add new location to choose a folder on your computer to designate as a trusted location.

By storing macros in trusted locations, you reduce the risk of running malicious VBA code unintentionally.

When opening macro files saved in these locations, you can be confident that they are secure and trustworthy.

Macro Security Settings

Overview of Macro Security Levels

In Outlook, managing macro security levels is crucial for ensuring a safe working environment.

There are four primary macro security settings, and we recommend selecting the appropriate one based on your trust level for the macros and the file sources.

  1. Disable all macros without notification: This setting automatically disables all macros, and no notifications are given when macros are blocked.
  2. Disable all macros with notification: This option disables all macros but provides a notification when a macro has been blocked, allowing the user to decide whether to enable it.
  3. Disable all macros except digitally signed macros: With this choice, only macros accompanied by a valid digital signature are allowed. Those without are blocked.
  4. Enable all macros (not recommended; potentially dangerous code can run): This setting enables all macros, regardless of their source, but is not recommended due to the potential security risks involved.

It’s essential to apply these macro security settings carefully to maintain a balance between functionality and security.

Digital Signatures for Macros

Digital signatures verify the authenticity and integrity of macros, ensuring they come from a trusted source and have not been tampered with.

A macro with a valid digital signature is allowed to run, making it a crucial aspect of macro security.

We recommend obtaining digital signatures for your macros from a reputable certification authority to facilitate a secure and efficient workflow.

Impact on Installed Add-Ins

When you apply macro security settings, they also impact installed add-ins in Outlook. This feature ensures consistent security across all aspects of your email experience.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to choose the appropriate setting and be aware of the potential consequences, such as disabling essential add-ins that require macros to function correctly.

Always double-check the sources and test the add-ins before deploying them, to avoid any disruption to your workflow.

By understanding and implementing these macro security settings and precautions, we can maintain a secure and efficient Outlook environment, minimizing potential risks while preserving essential functionality.

Outlook Versions and Macro Options

In this section, we will discuss how to enable macros in different Outlook versions, including Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2019, Outlook 2021, and Outlook for Microsoft 365.

Outlook 2010

The process of enabling macros in Outlook 2010 requires you to follow these steps:

  1. Go to File > Options > Trust Center.
  2. Click on Trust Center Settings.
  3. Select Macro Settings and choose the desired setting.
  4. Click OK to apply the changes.

Outlook 2013

For Outlook 2013, follow the same steps as in Outlook 2010. The process is identical.

Outlook 2016

In Outlook 2016, you can enable macros through these steps:

  1. Click File > Options > Trust Center.
  2. Choose Trust Center Settings.
  3. Go to Macro Settings and select the desired option.
  4. Confirm the changes by clicking OK.

Outlook 2019

To enable macros in Outlook 2019, follow the same steps as in Outlook 2016, as they are identical in both versions.

Outlook 2021

In Outlook 2021, the process to enable macros is the same as in previous versions:

  1. Go to File > Options > Trust Center.
  2. Click on Trust Center Settings.
  3. Choose Macro Settings and select the desired option.
  4. Apply the changes by clicking OK.

Outlook for Microsoft 365

For Outlook for Microsoft 365, you can enable macros by following these steps:

  1. Click on File > Options > Trust Center.
  2. Choose Trust Center Settings.
  3. Select Macro Settings and pick the desired setting.
  4. Confirm your changes by clicking OK.

Remember to review and select the most appropriate macro settings for your needs, considering the potential security risks associated with macros.

Addressing Macro Risks

Understanding Security Risks

Macros in Outlook can provide helpful automation. However, they also pose potential security risks if not properly managed.

Malicious macros can contain harmful code designed to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft 365 applications.

These potentially dangerous code snippets may introduce malware or viruses that can compromise a user’s computer system.

As we discuss enabling and using macros in Outlook, it is essential to understand these risks and take preventative actions.

Preventing Malicious Code Execution

To help avoid the accidental execution of malicious code, follow these guidelines:

  • Always ensure macros are disabled by default in your Microsoft Office applications. This setting minimizes the risk of running unintended macros with potentially harmful effects.
  • Be cautious when opening attachments from unknown senders, as spam emails are a primary method for distributing macro malware. If you receive an attachment from an unfamiliar source, it’s safer to delete the email.
  • Regularly update your Microsoft 365 applications to ensure you have the latest security patches and protections in place.

By following these preventive measures, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of inadvertent macro-related security incidents.

Verifying Macro Publisher

Even with preventive measures in place, situations may arise where macros need to be enabled to execute essential tasks.

In these cases, it is crucial to verify the publisher of the macro.

When a macro is encountered, Microsoft 365 applications may display a security warning, allowing you to review the macro’s source before executing it.

If you are confident that the publisher is trustworthy, and the macro is necessary for your work, proceed with caution. If you are uncertain about the source, choose not to run the macro.

By understanding the security risks associated with macros, taking appropriate precautions to prevent malicious code execution, and verifying macro publishers, we can effectively manage Outlook macros while minimizing potential threats.

Outlook Macro Troubleshooting

Identifying Macro Issues

When working with Outlook macros, we might occasionally encounter issues while trying to automate tasks or customize our email experience.

It is essential for us to recognize potential problems early on to ensure that our macros work as intended.

Some common macro issues include receiving error messages or notifications, macros not executing as expected, or facing Microsoft Office-related problems.

To diagnose macro issues, we should check the Macro Security settings in Outlook and ensure that the appropriate level of trust is set.

To do this, go to the File tab, choose Options, select Trust Center, and then choose Trust Center Settings.

In the Trust Center, we need to select “Macro Settings” and verify our desired level of security.

Resolving Error Messages

Error messages are a frequent source of frustration when dealing with Outlook macros.

Upon encountering an error message, it is crucial to understand its cause and apply the appropriate fix.

Reasons for error messages could include incorrect syntax, missing components in the project, or conflicts with other Microsoft Office applications.

One suggested solution is to ensure that our macro has the appropriate digital signature in place.

We should also pay attention to any information provided by the error message itself, as it may offer valuable insights into the issue at hand.

Applying Changes

Upon identifying and resolving a macro issue, the next step is to apply the necessary changes to our project.

When making modifications to our macro, it’s essential to save and test the changes along the way to observe their impact.

We can use the Visual Basic Editor to make any necessary edits to our macro code and save the changes by clicking on “Save” within the editor.

Restarting Outlook

Once we have made the necessary changes to our macro, a critical final step is to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

After restarting, we should test our macro and ensure its smooth functioning with no remaining error messages or issues.

If we continue to face problems, it’s essential to reach out to Microsoft Support for additional guidance and troubleshooting assistance.

Additional Resources

Microsoft Subscription Benefits

As Microsoft 365 subscribers, we have access to a wide range of features and tools that can help us enable and manage macros in Outlook.

With a Microsoft 365 subscription, we can automate many tasks in Outlook using macros. This not only simplifies our daily tasks but also increases our productivity.

Training Courses and Online Help

Microsoft offers various training courses for Outlook users of all skill levels. By attending these courses, we can enhance our abilities to use macros and other beneficial features in Outlook.

For beginners, there are introductory courses available. More advanced users can explore specific topics and features related to macros.

Additionally, Microsoft provides online help and documentation that includes step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting guides to manage and run macros.

Outlook Macros Communities

Participating in Outlook macros communities is another beneficial resource for learning more about macros and seeking help from experienced users.

By joining online forums, social media groups, or mailing lists, we can exchange ideas with like-minded individuals, ask questions, and find solutions to common problems related to macros in Outlook.

Moreover, these communities often share updates and new discoveries about Outlook features, helping us stay up to date with the latest improvements and best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about enabling Outlook macros:

What are Outlook macros?

Outlook macros are scripts or code snippets that automate repetitive tasks in Microsoft Outlook.

They can be used to perform various actions, such as sending automated replies, organizing emails into folders, creating custom email templates, or extracting data from emails.

Why are Outlook macros disabled by default?

Outlook macros are disabled by default for security reasons. Macros can potentially be used to execute malicious code, so Microsoft takes precautions to protect users from potential threats.

Enabling macros requires careful consideration and adherence to security best practices.

How can I enable macros in Outlook?

To enable macros in Outlook, you need to adjust the macro security settings.

Here’s how:

  • Open Outlook and go to “File” in the top menu.
  • Click on “Options” and select “Trust Center.”
  • In the Trust Center, click on “Trust Center Settings.”
  • Choose “Macro Settings” from the left-hand menu.
  • Select the desired security level, such as “Enable all macros” or “Enable all macros with notification.” Note that higher security levels may prompt user confirmation before running macros.
  • Click “OK” to save the changes.

Are there any risks associated with enabling macros in Outlook?

Enabling macros can pose security risks if not done cautiously. It’s crucial to be cautious when opening email attachments or running macros from unknown or untrusted sources.

Always exercise caution and ensure that macros come from reliable and verified sources.

Can I create my own Outlook macros?

Yes, you can create your own Outlook macros using the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) editor within Outlook.

The VBA editor allows you to write and customize macros to suit your specific needs.

Are there any pre-built Outlook macros available?

Yes, there are pre-built Outlook macros available online that you can download and use.

These macros can automate various tasks and provide ready-to-use solutions for common Outlook-related challenges.

However, exercise caution when downloading macros and ensure they come from reputable sources.

Remember, enabling macros in Outlook should be done with caution and consideration for security.

Always keep your antivirus software up to date, be mindful of potential risks, and only enable macros from trusted sources.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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