Creating Outlook Add-Ins with Visual Studio Express 2013

“Add-Ins” are small programs that add additional functionality to an existing piece of software. In the case of Microsoft Outlook, they are commonly written using Visual Basic or Visual C++ (now all part of Visual Studio).

Writing a Microsoft Outlook Add-In has not always been possible with Microsoft Visual Studio Express (Free) Edition. Previously, software developers have been required to purchase a copy of Visual Studio Professional, which can be hard to cost justify if you just wish to knock together a couple of quick applications.

Fortunately, Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition now provides a way to develop Office Add-Ins without the need to pay for the full edition. This article will describe how to achieve this.


You can download and install “Visual Studio Community Edition from here

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When the installation has completed (it takes a long time and you will need a reboot), start up your copy of Visual Studio and let it run through the configuration routine. You don’t need to change any of the default settings,but consider the following:


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Choose “Not Now” when prompted to “Sign In”. Select a suitable “Development Setting” (I chose “Visual Basic”) and a Colour Scheme. Then, click “Start Visual Studio”.
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  Eventually, the package will load up!

However, there is still an additional step to perform before we have everything we need to create an Outlook Add-In (since the basic installation doesn’t include the Office Add-In templates).

So, make sure Visual Studio is closed, and then download / run Office Templates from here (the file should be “OfficeToolsForVS2013Update1.exe”)

Click “Install” when prompted.
“Accept” the License Agreement.
Wait for the installer to complete, then click “Finish”

Restart “Visual Studio” and click “File” => “New Project”. You should now have the option to create an “Outlook 2013 Add-In” (amongst other useful things). 


Give your new “Add-In” a name and click “OK” to get started with your coding.




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