Using multiple signatures in Microsoft Outlook OWA (Web version)

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Like many academics, I have a number of different positions on campus, nationally, and internationally.

I am a professor in my department, an Associate Member of another department on campus, and of the graduate school and various institutes at Lethbridge and elsewhere, Principal Investigator of a couple of projects, editor of one journal, associate editor of another, and Vice President and Chief Spokesperson for my faculty union. If you’ve seen signatures of other professors, you’ll know that this is not a particularly lengthy list.

Not all of these positions are independent of each other. The fact that I’m a professor, and an adjunct member of various institutes and departments, for example, are all related to the fact that I’m a researcher and teacher.

But other positions are independent of each other. Or perhaps better said, could be usefully distinguished from each other. If you receive an email from me as editor of Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, for example, it may or may not be useful to know all the other academic things I do.

And yet other positions have specific requirements: my work for the union, for example, uses its own email address and comes with specific legal obligations. If I’m writing as Vice President, then I am probably speaking for the union as an organisation. And if I’m writing as the Chief Spokesperson, then it is important to know the status of what I am saying: is it “without prejudice,” for example, or intended as a final public offer?

Especially in these last two cases, it is useful to be able to use different signatures depending on what position I am fulfilling when I email you. But Microsoft OWA (the web version of Microsoft’s email system, which is used by both my university and my union) doesn’t allow you to use more than one signature.

What to do?

Template Phrases

I googled this around and saw one solution using a third-party app called “Template Phrases.” In this case what you do is the following:

  1. Install the app (I don’t know how to do this except by Settings > All Outlook Settings > Mail > Customize actions, selecting the “Get Add-ins” Check box and then starting a new message — there has to be a better way).
  2. Turn off your signature in OWA (if you have it on) using Settings > All Outlook Settings > Mail > Compose and Reply > Signature.
  3. Build a couple of different signatures in Template Phrases
  4. Click on them whenever you want to use them.

The advantage of this method is that Template Phrases comes with a couple of useful “macros” that do things like fill in the cc or bcc field, or reproduce the subject line or the full name of the sender elsewhere in the email. A disadvantage is that you don’t seem able to format the appearance of your signatures, other than using returns. Another huge disadvantage is that you can change every addressline except “from” (which is the one you want to change if you have multiple email addresses!).

My Templates

Another solution is to use OWA’s built in “My Templates” app. This seems to be turned on by default, but if it isn’t, Settings > All Outlook Settings > Mail > Customize actions and select the “My Templates” Check box.

You do basically the same thing here, except that My Templates will accept images and formatting if you prepare the text elsewhere and then paste it in (the images have to be very small). A disadvantage is that My Templates doesn’t have any macros, so you can’t automatically add different email addresses or the like.

Templates AND a signature

A final option, particularly if you have a signature you like and use a lot (i.e. your main one), and others that you only use occasionally, then you can eat your cake and have it too.

To do this,

  1. Create your standard signature in Settings > All Outlook Settings > Mail > Compose and Reply > Signature (or keep the one you have if you like it), but leave the “Automatically include…” checkboxes unchecked
  2. Create your secondary signatures using one of the methods above
  3. Add a “add signature” button to your toolbars: Settings > All Outlook Settings > Mail > Customize Actions > Tool Bar and check the “Insert Signature” box.



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