Use Outlook 2013 to Remotely Start Applications on Windows

Remote Thumbnail

These days most of us own and carry at least one device with an internet connection. And when your device is a smartphone you could almost always

connect with your machine at home

as well. But there is a chance that the device you are carrying is not smart or compatible enough for you to connect to your Windows PC and trigger an urgent task. It may not allow you to run applications that help with

remote connectivity and access


Worry not, we will show you how to make any device smart with just an internet connection and an email account. We will show you how to run applications on your Windows machine remotely by just sending out emails.

Getting Started: You will need Microsoft Outlook on your machine at home (up and running always). Further, it must be connected to the internet at all times and must have been configured with an email account.

We will get the task done by creating email rules for incoming messages. Wondering how? There’s a way and we are set to learn it today.

Bonus Tip: Gmail users are also blessed with an application called sRemote that does somewhat the same thing. And if you recently upgraded to Windows 8, we’ve already covered how to enable and use remote desktop in Windows 8.

I will show you how to create the required rule using Office 2013. The steps are pretty much same on all versions. Besides, users of Office 2007 can check out the basic steps of creating a rule here.

Step 1: On the Home tab navigate to Rules -> Manage Rules and Alerts.

Manage Rules Alerts

Step 2: On the Rules and Alerts window, start with a fresh rule. Click on the button for New Rule.

Create New Rule

Step 3: Next will open the Rules Wizard. You will need to Start from a blank rule and select the option to Apply rule on messages I receive. Click on Next after making the choice.

Start Blank Rule

Step 4: The next step is to define the condition of rule check. Select (at least) two things here- from people or public group and with specific words in the subject.

Configure Rules Wizard

You may select more or different parameters. Though the combination suggested above works, best it is up to you to decide.

Step 5: On the same window, in the lower half, you will need to click on each link and associate a value. The first one is for the contact and the second one is for the “specified words”. Click on Next after setting the values.

Specify Subject Words

Step 6: This is the most important step and this is where you will define the action on the rule. Choose start application.

Start Application Rule

Then, click on the link as above and select the application that you wish to trigger when an email meeting the rules is received. I have selected Notepad for testing purpose.

Rule Start Notepad

You can do anything here. For example, create your own script and have that selected, select the exe to shutdown machine, etc.

Click on Next again and click Next throughout until the setup is complete. Also, ensure that the rule is turned on.

How to Trigger Application Remotely

I have configured my Gmail account as the account to be identified in the rule. So, I can send a message from my Gmail account. On the receiving end, my address is configured with my Outlook desktop client. Hence my message to trigger Notepad on my machine remotely looks like the one shown in the image below.

Test Email Launch Application

Note: Do not miss the words that you specified in Step 5 in the Subject line. The example here has Start Notepad as the key.

Test it once and it should work. If it does not, you must have configured something wrong. You need to follow each step carefully.


I hope this is going to help you in many ways. It can help you remain connected to your computer at home almost always and help you follow up on tasks easily. All you need is access to the internet, be it on a device or any other means. Of course, it goes without saying that this method is primarily meant for the people who use the Outlook client on a daily basis and hence are very likely to have it open at all times on their home computer.

Top Image Credit: Fiona Shields

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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