How to Drag and Drop Messages from Outlook to Teams Channels

Getting Email into Teams

I must have been sleeping in January 2021 and failed to notice that Microsoft posted in User Voice (now discontinued) that Teams supports drag and drop from Outlook. Several sites picked up the news, but Microsoft didn’t post a message center notification to make the information more broadly available.

In any case, drag and drop capability joins the array of methods available to bring email into Teams:

  • Share to Teams uses an Outlook add-in to send a message to a Teams channel or chat (including the ability to create a new chat). Because Teams cannot read encrypted messages, email protected with Office 365 Message Encryption, sensitivity labels, or S/MIME are not sharable. Share to Teams works with Outlook for Windows (Microsoft 365 apps for Enterprise), Outlook for Mac, and OWA. It isn’t available in Outlook mobile.
  • Reply with IM is an Outlook desktop option available when Teams is the registered chat application for Windows. The option creates a chat with people addressed in the email.
  • Reply to Teams Missed Activity Mail gives users who receive missed activity notifications the ability to respond to conversations in Teams using Outlook actionable messages.
  • Email-enabled channels have special email addresses to allow the delivery of messages through a connector to become channel conversations. Organizations can restrict who can send email to an email-enabled channel.
  • Drag and Drop from Outlook desktop allows users to drag and drop a message (and any attachments) to a Teams channel conversation.

Dragging a Message to Teams

Outlook for Windows supports drag and drop of a message and any attachments from any folder to a Teams channel conversation. You can’t drag and drop a message to a personal or group chat and the feature isn’t available in OWA or Outlook for Mac.

To get an email to Teams, select it in Outlook and drag it to the compose box for a new topic or reply and drop it there (Figure 1).

Selecting a message in Outlook for Windows to drag to Teams
Figure 1: Selecting a message in Outlook for Windows to drag to Teams

To get the message into Teams, Outlook uploads a copy of the message into the channel folder in the SharePoint site belonging to the target team and creates a link to the email in the Teams message. The user can then add extra context for the message, just like they would for any other attachment shared in a channel before posting (Figure 2). Users can also drag and drop messages from Outlook to the Files channel tab. This action uploads the message to SharePoint without creating a message in the channel.

Composing a message in Teams including the email dragged from Outlook
Figure 2: Composing a message in Teams including the email dragged from Outlook

Notice that the file stored by Teams in SharePoint Online is a .msg file (Figure 3). This file is a complete message, including attachments.

The message dragged from Outlook stored by Teams in SharePoint Online
Figure 3: The message dragged from Outlook stored by Teams in SharePoint Online

To view the message, users use the message viewer through the Teams Files channel tab or SharePoint Online to view the content of the .msg file. As you can see in Figure 4, the viewer shows no trace of any attachment.

Viewing the content of a message dragged from Outlook to Teams
Figure 4: Viewing the content of a message dragged from Outlook to Teams

To access message attachments, users must download a copy of the .msg file. Outlook desktop can then open the .msg file to expose the full structure of the message, including any attachments.

Protected Email Unsupported

Although Outlook can upload messages protected with sensitivity labels (or S/MIME or any other protection mechanism) to Teams, users won’t be able to read the content unless they download the message and open it with Outlook. When this happens, Outlook checks if the user has the necessary rights to view the content and if so, decrypts and displays the message.

Another way of handling protected email is to copy the decrypted text from Outlook and paste it into a Teams message. If you want to include the message header to show recipients, forward the message to someone (but don’t send it) and copy the text inserted into the forwarded copy. Any attachments (which will also be protected) must be downloaded and posted to Teams separately. I use this method frequently when I want to post something from email to Teams.

Delayed but Welcome

Drag and drop is such a natural part of working with data that it’s surprising Microsoft supported this method to link Outlook to Teams so late in the evolution of the client. Now that it’s here (and you know about it), try the feature out and see what you think about dragging messages from Outlook to Teams.

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