Email templates are a great feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.  The problem is that, over time, administrators and users may create a lot of these templates.  Then, when a user goes to select a template for an outbound email, they need to put on their boots to wade through dozens of templates to find the one that they’re looking for.  Unfortunately, there is no option to deactivate an email template record to mitigate this problem without deleting the old e-mail templates.

What do most users do when they are overwhelmed by so many things to choose from?  They give up and don’t use the templates at all!

What do most system administrators do about this problem?  Nothing.  Because they’re afraid they might need one of those old templates (or that some user out there may still be using it).

So how can you have the best of both worlds?  How can you have access to all of your email templates, but hide the ones that no one is using anymore without deleting them?  Here is one approach you can use that leverages Solutions in CRM.

1. First of all, create a new solution called “Email Templates”.  To do this, you will navigate to Settings | Solutions, click the New button and create a new solution.  The values in the fields here don’t matter too much.

2. Next, you’ll put all of the old e-mail templates into the solution.  Open the solution (if it isn’t already), navigate to E-mail Templates in the side navigation bar, click the Add Existing button, and select all of the e-mails that you want in the solution.  Save and Close the solution when you’re done.  Check out the picture, below, for more information.

E-Mail Templates Solution in CRM 2011

3. Then you will export the solution.  When you export the solution, it will create an external copy of all your templates that you can save elsewhere.  That way you can get them back when you need them.  In the Settings | Solutions area, select the solution that you just created and click the Export button.  Save the file somewhere that it is safe.

4. Lastly, you can delete the old templates from CRM knowing that you can get them back later if needed.

Unfortunately, if you decide you need one of these templates back in the future, CRM 2011 will not allow you to import just one template – you will have to import the entire solution.  We deal with this by keeping the templates in a development environment so that we can easily create a new solution with just the template(s) that are needed, export it from the development instance of CRM 2011 and import it into our production instance.  If you do not have a second CRM environment for this purpose, you can quickly create a new CRM Online instance (Microsoft gives you 30 day trials for free), import your solution there, create a new solution with just the templates that you need, export it, and re-import it into CRM.  If you need to create a trial account, click here.

Now go clean up all those old templates so that it will be easier for users to find the templates that they need!