Why can’t Entourage send pretty emails??
In the Mac-centric business of marketing and advertising at Bing Design, we typically use the tools of Apple’s Macintosh computers to create and publish content for print and online distribution every day. We know what PC (Microsoft) users typically need for e-communication and we have solutions in place to take care of those needs.
But what happens when some of those normal processes need to be provided to a customer who has a Mac in a PC world? Recently we found ourselves in that situation.
One of our clients typically sends out e-mail invitations and e-greetings from PC. That process is rather simple:
- Create the e-mail as HTML with images and formatted text in Dreamweaver (or similar app)
- Post HTML online and choose to send page using IE > Send Page through Outlook, or create Stationery for Outlook, to send from user’s PC
- Check recipients to ensure they can get messages in format/style intended
- Test, test, test
However, the recent need was to create an e-mail with an animated image that the client could send from their Mac so it would keep its animation for recipients on PCs. These days, with so many e-mail applications and accounts, there are a LOT of considerations one needs to keep in mind:
Does the user have Hotmail or Gmail? If so, forget about background images, they will be removed. Same goes for using CSS in the page. In fact, even if your CSS style sheet is posted online with a hard URL link to the HTML message being sent, some e-mail clients will not see things the way you want them to. Odd as it is, this process has taken a step back to the ‘old days’ in using span styles over CSS. This makes it even more important to work with a designer who can style text into HTML without using pre-defined styles. While you can use those styles, your message will be at the mercy of the end-user’s own e-mail preferences which can replace font, size, style, and color with their own recipe.
All that aside, sending out an HTML e-newsletter, e-card, or e-invitation is pretty easy once the page is designed, content is added, and the formatting is designed to accommodate the variety of e-mail applications out there.
With Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, you can browse to the HTML page you want to send, go to File, select Send then choose Page by Email and IE will take that web page, and pass the code to Outlook (or similar e-mail application on your computer) and send the web page as it is coded. This is an easy way to share pages or content with other users, but is reliant on the page not changing on the site it is currently hosted on. If the page is changed or goes away, your recipients will see/not see what was changed.
A second way to do this is to build an HTML page, make sure the images are all loaded online (to an FTP site), link to the images on the remote site from the HTML page (using full URL not just to an “images” folder locally), then use the HTML as Stationery in Outlook on PC.
The Stationery folder is located on your PC:
- C: (hard drive)
- Program Files
- Common Files
- Microsoft Shared
Then you can go into your Outlook settings, and go to:
- Stationery Picker
Browse for the new HTML file you have just added, choose it. Make sure you have the Mail Format set to HTML. Hit OK and you can now create new messages with the format (and edit page content on an HTML page to send!).
- You will need to change your settings back to what they were before using this method, or all messages will be sent with the template.
Okay, you say, sending HTML formatted content from PC is pretty easy, but what about sending from a Mac?
Well, if you are looking for a Stationery folder in Microsoft’s Entourage for Mac, you won’t find it. If you go to Safari or Firefox to find Send Page (at least with Entourage), you won’t find that either. So what can you do?
If you have Microsoft Office for Mac, you need not fear. While Microsoft has earned a reputation for heavy styling and attribute code being attached to content for web use (ever copy and pasted Word text into a web page only to see the page/side break? You can blame that on Microsoft’s use of DIVs, SPAN, and other styling attributes in HTML), in the case of sending formatted HTML from a Mac, this embedded code is actually an asset. Here, the extra styling code helps to preserve the images, text, and styles in a way that Outlook can discern.
If you have Microsoft Word, and can build (or copy) a simple page of copy, styles, and images in a document, just save that file to your desktop. Open the file in Word, then go to your File menu, and go to the second to last option called Send To (mail recipient as HTML)… and Word will take that document and pass it off to Entourage. Just note, how the two applications see the page is not always as you would want. So some testing is strongly encouraged.
Once you get the page in Entourage to look as it does in Word, you can send the page to yourself for testing. Then on to the world as you see fit.
So you CAN send formatted HTML to users from a Mac using Microsoft Word and Entourage (or Safari and Mac Mail) with animated and static images.