Prepare Emails using Formulas#

You may already know that you can add hyperlink fields in Grist. You may also know about “mailto” links that open a mail program to create a new email message.

Less well-known is that “mailto” links allow pre-filling many parts of the email message. If you use Grist to store contacts, you can essentially create email templates using Grist formulas.

The simplest “mailto” link in Grist looks like mailto:someone@example.com. When the column is set to Text, and its format is set to Hyperlink, it shows as someone@example.com.

If you have a table with columns Full_Name and Email, add another column with this formula: "Compose Email mailto:%s" % ($Email). Set its type to Text, and its cell format to Hyperlink:

HyperLink Format

You’ll get a link in each person’s row, which you can click to start composing an email to that person:

Mailto Cells

See an example of this in action here: Simple Compose.

Cc, Bcc, Subject, Body#

In addition to opening your email program and filling in the “TO” field, a “mailto” link can fill in other parts of the email, using this format:

mailto:<to>?cc=<cc>&bcc=<bcc>&reply-to=<email>&subject=<subject>&body=<body>

All fields are optional. You can specify multiple email addresses for To/Cc/Bcc lists by separating them with commas.

Values of each field should be percent-encoded, which in Python can be done using urllib.quote.

To put this together, this formula will produce a hyperlink to create a pre-filled email:

from urllib import quote, urlencode
return "Compose mailto:%s?cc=sales@example.com&subject=%s&body=%s" % (
  quote($Email), quote("Welcome!"), quote($Body))

A live example of this is here: Advanced Compose.

Emailing Multiple People#

Email links are very handy when emailing a group of people, such as students in a class, or people on a certain project.

For instance, if you have a Reference column “Project” that ties a person to a project, then in the table of projects, you can look up all associated people using lookupRecords. You can then build a link to email them as a group:

from urllib import quote
people = People.lookupRecords(Project=$id)
return "Email Group mailto:%s" % quote(", ".join(people.Email))

You can see this formula at work in Group Compose.

Don’t use this to replace an email marketing platform: since emails use your regular email program, you shouldn’t use it for emailing thousands of people. But for small groups, this can be very convenient.

Configuring Email Program#

If your “mailto” links don’t work, or don’t open your preferred email program, here is an article to help you configure it:

If you need more details, here are some more links:

  • To open a desktop program (such as Mail, Thunderbird, etc.) on a Mac: Instructions.
  • To open a desktop program (such as Outlook, etc. ) on Windows: Instructions.
  • To open Gmail in Chrome and other browsers: Instructions.
  • To open webmail (such as Gmail or Yahoo! Mail) or a desktop program in Firefox: Instructions.