- 27 Sep 2022
- 7 Minutes to read
Outlook automation actions
- Updated on 27 Sep 2022
- 7 Minutes to read
Automations are powerful customizable trigger-action workflows that work directly within your Airtable base. When building an Automation we offer a selection of actions that can be used with Outlook including:
- Send an email in Outlook Email
- Create an event in Outlook Calendar
- Update an event in Outlook Calendar
If your organization uses Microsoft Exchange email servers, only the cloud-based version of that service will work with our Automations feature. On-prem Microsoft Exchange servers are currently not able to integrate with Airtable.
After you have configured your base in the manner you choose, you can then begin configuring your automation. To start, click on “Automations” in the upper right corner of your base. Then, click “Create an automation” to begin the setup process. For this example, we will be setting up an automation that sends an email from Outlook and creates an Outlook calendar event whenever a new record is added to a view in our Project Tracker Template.
As a prerequisite, you will need to already have a Microsoft account. This account will need to be connected to the Airtable base that you are working in. After choosing which trigger you would like to set up, you will have the options to "Manage connected accounts" or "Connect new account". This authorization process is scoped to each individual Outlook service, so you will need to perform this process multiple times, at least once for each Outlook trigger, and also reauthorizations in the future as needed. Jump down to the section below for more information on security and OAuth scopes.
Choose a trigger
First, we will set up a trigger to fire when a project enters our "Incomplete projects by leader" view. To do this, choose the corresponding table and view within the base and test the trigger.
Send email action in Outlook Email
The first action we’ll add to this automation is an Outlook send email action. This allows us to send an email directly from an Outlook email account. To add an action, click “+ Add Action” and then click “Send email” under “Outlook Email”.
The first step is to select your Outlook Email account (if you have already connected it to Airtable), or connect a new Outlook account.
Once you’ve done that, you can populate the recipients, subject line, message body, and attachments. The total size of the email message (including attachments) is limited to 35MB. Your automation can send out a custom message that combines information from Airtable records, emojis, rich text, and plain text. You can click the blue and white plus-sign to add values in from the triggering record. In this example, we’re sending an email to the Project Lead with details about the new project.
By clicking on the "Show more options" drop-down arrow, you will have the ability to customize four additional parts of the automatic email you send out, which includes "CC", "BCC", "From name", and "Reply to". It's a good idea to BCC your own email address. You can remove your email address after the automation is confirmed to be sending the email correctly.
TIPYou can preview the email that the automation will send out before testing the action. More info on that option can be found here.
After your message looks the way you want it to you must click "Run test" to ensure the action is working properly. If the test runs successfully, then at this point it's a good idea to check that the test email was sent successfully. Note that it might take a few minutes for the message to appear in your inbox, after the test runs successfully.
Create event action in Outlook Calendar
We’ll add another action to this automation to create an Outlook Calendar event for this new project’s kickoff meeting. To do this, click “+ Add another action”, and then find “Create event” under “Outlook Calendar”.
Again, you will need to connect your Outlook Calendar account. Even if you already connected your Outlook account for the Email action, you will need to connect your account again for the Calendar action. These two actions require different permissions, and you will need to add your Outlook account for both actions separately.
After connecting your Outlook Calendar account, you can start to specify the details of the event you'd like to create. You can configure both the start and end times of the event or create an all-day event. Just as in the email action, you can also use values from the triggering record to populate the event details.
When configuring the event, you must select a start time and end time. The input format of the date and time is flexible, and many formats should work. A few examples of formats that will work are:
- August 18, 2020 at 6pm PST
- 08/18/2020 at 6pm (if the time zone is excluded, it defaults to your calendar time zone)
- 2020-08-18T12:05:05.217Z (ISO format)
You can also set location, attendees, and configure video conferencing for the event. All attendees added will receive an email invitation to the event.
Once again, you will need to click “Run test” to ensure that this step is configured properly. You should now see a new event in your Outlook calendar with the values you specified!
A reference to an Outlook Calendar's Event ID is necessary for the “Update event” Outlook Calendar action. If you plan to create an automation to update Outlook Calendar events at any point in the future we strongly recommend creating a separate field on your table to keep track of the Outlook Calendar Event ID for any newly created events.
Since we'll want to keep the calendar event we created up to date, we will add an additional "Update record" action to this automation. Below we updated our Airtable record with the returned Event ID from our newly created Outlook calendar event:
Update event action in Outlook Calendar
In order to set up the “Update event” action for Outlook Calendar, you will need to have a reference to the Outlook Event ID for the event you are looking to update.
If you have previously stored Outlook calendar event IDs in your table then you can use the "Update event" action to update an Outlook calendar event.
Suppose we have a table tracking upcoming client meetings, and we want to make sure that if someone changes the dates in our table that change is automatically reflected in our Outlook calendar. We will use the "When a record is updated" trigger to kick off this automation whenever someone updates either the end or start date fields in our table. With our trigger setup we can add the "Outlook: Update event" action:
After adding (or connecting) your Outlook Calendar account, will need to enter the Outlook Calendar Event ID for the event you'd like to update. We stored our Outlook Calendar Event ID in a field named "Calendar Event ID" in our table. So we can access information from our trigger by clicking on the blue "+" and entering the name of the field we stored our Event ID in:
With the event ID entered, we can now specify what we'd like to update in that Calendar event. Choose a field from the dropdown menu to select what exactly you'd like to update on the Outlook Calendar event:
Once you've selected the fields you'd like to update you can choose to fill those fields either with static information (that will stay the same everytime) or dynamic information from a previous step in your automation:
If you choose to add "Dynamic" information for a field, you can add values from previous steps in your automation by clicking on the blue "+":
Once again, you will need to click “Run test” to ensure that this step is configured properly.
Test and enable your automation
After the trigger and both actions have been tested successfully, you are ready to turn on your automation! Click the toggle in the upper right corner to turn on your automation — now, when a new record enters the “Incomplete projects by leader” view in our table, an email will be sent from our Outlook address and a new event will be created in our Outlook calendar.
Security and OAuth scopes
We request the minimum read/write scopes necessary to make the external source sync work. The OAuth consent screen will look like this:
Outlook Calendar app access
Outlook Email app access
The access approval screen will vary depending upon the automation you are creating. Clicking "Yes" means that you will allow us to access the necessary scopes to allow the automation to work.
|Scope name||Scope purpose|
|For refresh token|
|For user metadata|
|For reading/writing emails (Only for Outlook Email automations)|
|For sending mail (Only for Outlook Email automations)|
We use delegated permissions for all of our Outlook integrations and tokens are transmitted between Airtable and Microsoft’s servers securely via HTTPS. On Airtable’s side, the tokens are stored in databases that are encrypted at rest.
For more information on Outlook scopes, check out Microsoft's documentation here.
Can I preview the email that I'm sending out via the "Outlook: Send email" action?
Yes, more info can be found here.