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Add a Background Picture to an Email On the Fly in Outlook 2007

Our forum administrator Scott showed me an interesting trick in Outlook 2007 where you can assign any picture as the background to an email. Since this was news to me, I figured that I’d write it up for everybody else.

You should use this feature with caution, of course, since it will increase the size of the email and if you choose a really obnoxious image it will also annoy whoever you are sending the email to. Note that this feature is different from the Stationery feature in Outlook, which we’ll cover at another time.

Adding a Background Picture

Open up a new email, click on the Options tab and then the Page Color drop-down button, and then the Fill Effects item at the bottom of the menu.

image

Note that you’ll need to have your email in HTML or Rich Text mode for this to work.

You can use the Textures or Patterns on the various tabs if you like, although none of them are that great.

image

Or you can choose a particular picture from the Picture tab by using the Select Picture button to browse and find a file. You’ll want to make sure to choose an image that can be tiled, and also make sure that it’s small since it’s going to be included in the email.

image

You’ll notice that this particular image doesn’t tile very well…

image

And since it’s not mostly dark or mostly light, the text is barely readable.

image

Instead you want to choose a background image that can tile and is either mostly dark or mostly light colored.

image

Of course, you should always use this feature with caution. Nobody wants to get some gigantic picture as the background image for an email.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/15/08

Comments (26)

  1. whs

    If you like to do that, I recommend to fade the picture to make it look like a watermark. Else it will be difficult to read the text.

  2. Blaine

    I’ve tested background images before and had some problems with a few web-based email giants out there not displaying the image. But that was maybe 5 years ago. I’ve got a couple questions for anyone who might know. Does Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc. all display the background image or does it come through as an attachment? Will email clients such as Outlook prompt you to download the images if the sender is “unverified” or whitelisted? The reason I ask is I’m thinking about a newsletter for my site and wanted to find out if an HTML email is worth the potential hassle.

    Thanks in advance!

  3. whs

    Not all mail servers support HTML, but I don’t have a list. I know that e.g. AOL does not. The other problem to consider is the additional time it takes to send such a mail if your outbound mail is checked by your security system. That and the HTML problem was one reason I stopped using Incredimail – which is quite fancy..

  4. JackC

    In Outlook 2007 my Options Page Color is grayed… how can I get it back? I’m assuming I’m not alone on this(?).

  5. SKBrown

    Place cursor in message field and click. Page Color options should then appear.

    Additional Question:

    Is there anyway to avoid the tile effect and have a single instance of the picture fill the entire message field? Thanks for all replies!

    SKBrown

  6. Merry

    WHS-My AOL messages certainly look to me like they are HTML. They definitely are not text only. Could you have a setting wrong, by any chance?

  7. whs

    Ya, that was the problem at the time. Fixed it in the meantime.

  8. Thanks for the help!

  9. Joe Jacinto

    How to insert a background image on Outlook 2007 e-mail

    1. Create the image you want to use and save it as image001.gif (or any other name, for that matter) on your stationery settings folder, usually C:\Documents and Settings\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery\image001.gif
    Remember, your_access_name is your access name, i.e., do not type your_access_name.

    2. Now, open up Notepad (if you dont know where this is go to START, RUN and type notepad.exe) and write the following:

    You may just copy the above and edit your name and the file name.

    3. Save in the same directory
    C:\Documents and Settings\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery as The_name_you_want.htm.
    To do this you have to go to File, Save as, change the Save as type from *.txt to All files and then entering The_name_you_want.htm on the File Name box.

    4. In OUTLOOK go to Tools, Options, Mail Format, Stationery and Fonts and select Theme.

    5. Look for The_name_you_want (Stationery), select and click OK.

    6. Now, still in Outlook, open up a New message and it should open with your background.

    7. If the image is small it will repeat itself otherwise not. There are other commands that can be embedded to repeat or not-repeat: Im still working on those.

    8. If you want the image to be very faint you have to edit it first using brightness and contrast.

    9. You may create several different backgrounds and then access in Outlook by going to the main menu and, instead of starting with NEW, go to Actions, New Mail Message Using, More Stationery and, if you saved the drawings and the notepads on your Stationery folder, select from the items on the window.

  10. Antonio

    Hey guys your comments have a come as great help, despite of that i still have some dough that I hope you guys can help me out:

    1 – how to I fade that image to be set as a watermark?
    2 – How do I set it as default like a signature in every e-mail I send, despite being a new message a forward one or a reply?

    Cheers

  11. Ron

    I wish Joe Jacinto would better explain his “saving to Stationary” explanation. I understand the premise but following his direction word by word(or trying to) is difficult and isn’t working.
    [EXAMPLE:……..] after each statement.

    I don’t mean to sound rude, I’m not being. I appreciate your idea. It just isn’t working so I have to imagine I’m not getting something correct that your trying to say. Just a little thing.

    Thanks

  12. Ron

    DELETE MY LAST PLEASE….there are Lots of Words missing that I Typed…..sorry and THANKS

  13. Ron

    I wish Joe Jacinto would better explain his “saving to Stationary” explanation. I understand the premise of what your saying Joe, but following your direction word by word(or trying to) is difficult and isn’t working. Maybe if you were to retype each individual direction, keeping in mind Other People need to Understand what Your Thinking, and follow with an example[EXAMPLE:……..] after each statement.

    I don’t mean to sound rude, I’m not being. I appreciate your idea. It just isn’t working so I have to imagine it’s My Fault and I’m not getting something correct that your trying to say. Something very simple probably, but I can’t figure it out.

    When I save a GIF, it just doesn’t show up. And the part your saying Open Notepad and enter the following, doesn’t quite make sense.

    Sorry for Not Understanding
    Thanks

  14. Arshad

    If am not wrong, then we have to choose the background color or picture everytime “manually” and there is no method or formula or check/uncheck in Outlook 2007 because of which we can fix one background for all new composing emails.

    I like light brown or light green back ground color while composing every email. But i have to choose this color every time when composing new email or replying/forwarding.
    Its wierd !!

  15. Trish

    Your web page was the ninth link offered in a page one search result using Google… and the FIRST (and only!) one to offer me a TRUE resolve. Heck, even Microsoft did NOT offer this solution. Goes to show me that Google does NOT always know best.

    Thank YOU for the easy to follow, explicit instructions. Works for me!

  16. Pritam

    Thanks a lot for guiding..
    It helped me a lot..

    How to set custom background for next mails,
    so that we dont need to change for everytime..

    can you provide any good website link consist of such Background themes for MS outlook 2007?

  17. Sorav Das

    I Did As You Say But Still No Background Image is Shown IN gMAIL…

  18. syeda

    I Inserted the Background image, coloring and everythng.

    but whn i send tat, it is showing only the body of the msg and not background picture in the mail.:(

    plz help

  19. Theo

    Doesn’t work dude. Just getting the full path of the picture and not the actual pic in the background of the email.

  20. TSA

    Does anyone know if it is possible to insert a background pic to an Outlook 2007 invitation? I am really struggling with that… THANKS!

  21. Peter

    im having an issue understanding Joe Jacinto’s instructions.

    2. Now, open up Notepad (if you don�t know where this is go to START, RUN and type notepad.exe) and write the following:

    write what?

  22. Mona

    This is such a useful site, thank you so much !

  23. Devendra

    Thank you :)

  24. Dunadar

    I have gone as far as creating a background image that works well… does not stick out like a sore thumb and doesn’t drown out the text. Is there a way to save the background picture as a default for all messages composed in Outlook 2010? Thanks in advance for any help!

  25. Martin Leeney

    Joe is in fact right but he missed a critical step.

    When you create your .htm file using notepad he forgot to tell you that you need to write the following code in it.

    When you save it as a web page it functions like one so the reason you see the path in outlook when you select it is because that’s what you asked it to do. If you do the above it will work for you.

    FULL INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Create the image you want to use and save it as image001.gif (or any other name, for that matter) on your stationery settings folder, usually C:\Documents and Settings\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery\image001.gif
    Remember, your_access_name is your access name, i.e., do not type your_access_name.

    2. Now, open up Notepad (if you don�t know where this is go to START, RUN and type notepad.exe) and write the following:

    3. Now write the following in notepad and save in C:\Documents and Settings\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery as your templatename.htm

    To do this you have to go to File, Save as, change the Save as type from *.txt to All files and then entering The_name_you_want .htm on the File Name box.

    4. In OUTLOOK go to Tools, Options, Mail Format, Stationery and Fonts and select Theme.

    5. Look for The_name_you_want (Stationery), select and click OK.

    6. Now, still in Outlook, open up a New message and it should open with your background.

    7. If the image is small it will repeat itself otherwise not. There are other commands that can be embedded to repeat or not-repeat: I�m still working on those.

    8. If you want the image to be very faint you have to edit it first using brightness and contrast.

    9. You may create several different backgrounds and then access in Outlook by going to the main menu and, instead of starting with NEW, go to Actions, New Mail Message Using, More Stationery and, if you saved the drawings and the notepads on your Stationery folder, select from the items on the window.

    If Microsoft did there job a little better we wouldn’t need to do this.

    Well done Joe

  26. Brad

    You still forgot the code that is to be typed into the .htm as well. I don’t know if it will help or not, but I found that it is easier just to save the document in notepad as a blank .htm as mentioned above and then edit the the file with Microsoft Word and under the insert tab, click PICTURE and then select the picture you want to insert then save the .htm file and continue on with step 4. By doing this there is no need for any code. So follow steps 1 and 2 and then save your Notepad file in C:\Documents and Settings\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery or C:\Users\your_access_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Stationery, depending on your operating system, as your templatename.htm then edit it in Word like I was saying and continue on with step 4 – 8. Hope it helps I know it was an old thread but you never know when it may come in handy again.

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