Emails with .ICS calendar invitations attached don't contents when received in Outlook 365

J9999

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
POP3
Operating system::    Windows 10 Pro
Outlook version:     2405
Email type or host:    POP

When I receive an email containing an attached .ICS meeting invitation and open the email message in Outlook, I cannot see the email itself. Everything that was written in the body of the email (the bottom part of the message window) is blank. All I can see are the name, location, and time of the meeting in the invitation. It's as if the email itself is suppressed and Outlook displays only the attached invitation.

Here's an example. This invitation was sent attached to an email whose body starts with "Hello [me], You have successfully registered for Webcast XXX. The event details are as follows..." followed by the agenda and the full details about joining the conference call. The original email's subject line was "You have successfully registered for the webinar!" When I see the email in Outlook 365 for Windows, all I see is the event itself, minus the agenda and joining details. In Outlook's "Subject" column, instead of seeing the subject of the email, I see the name of the meeting, in this case "Webcast: XXX.""

Here's the email as it appears in Outlook 365 (mind you, this is what I see when I open the email, not just when I open the .ICS attachment). Notice the big blank space at the bottom. Notice the subject of the email, "Webcast...":

Image

Here's the same email as it appears in Gmail. Notice here that there's lots of stuff at the bottom, missing in Outlook. Notice the subject of the email is actually "You have successfully registered..." as it was meant to be:

Image

It's as if Outlook is completely replacing the email with its attached meeting invitation. That's not good. There's often something in the body of the email that is needed, as in this case.

When I accept the meeting, none of the details from the email appear in the calendar event.

How do I get Outlook to show me received emails with attached invitations as emails with attachments, rather than as meetings without emails?

(I'm using: Microsoft® Outlook® for Microsoft 365 MSO (Version 2405 Build 16.0.17628.20006) 64-bit, on Windows 10 Pro.)
 
I was able to replicate the issue by sending myself an invitation from my Gmail account to my Outlook account, as follows:

  1. Create a meeting invitation in Outlook for tomorrow morning with a meeting title of "Invitation title" and a location of "Location here", and save it as an .ICS file.

  2. In Gmail, create a new email message to my Outlook address with a subject of "This is an invitation email" and a body saying "Hello. This is an invitation email."


    Image


  3. Attach the .ICS file from Step 1 to the email message from Step 2, and send it.

  4. In Outlook 365 for Windows, sync messages and open the email in the Inbox when it arrives.


    Image

  5. Notice that the subject is replaced by the meeting title, "Invitation title." Notice that the body of the email message is nowhere to be seen ("Hello. This is an invitation email.").


    Image

    (This is what you see when you open the email message, even though it looks like a meeting and not like a message.)

This proves that Outlook ignores email contents (subject and body) when the email contains an .ICS invitation file as an attachment. This is bad, very bad.
 
Thanks for the repro steps - I will test it too - see if there is a workaround for it - and pass it along to my contacts in support.

Hi Diane. I was very happy to see that you responded! I tested what would happen if I were to hit "Forward" on the email message, as was suggested to me by a very wise lady in another venue.

It's very bizarre. Initially if I hit "Forward," all I see is the "Original appointment" with its headers, but none of the components of the email message that had the meeting attachment in it. It looks like this (and yes, I got here by clicking Forward on the email message in my Outlook Inbox, not by clicking on the accepted appointment in my Outlook Calendar):




(In the original message, the email subject was "Email subject here," and there was an email body that said, "Email body here." The attached appointment had a title of "Meeting title here," location of "Meeting location here," and description of "Meeting description here." Notice that the forwarded message above has only the appointment title and appointment location -- but not the appointment description/notes, and not the email subject or email body. Worse, if I accept the meeting, the resulting Outlook calendar entry does NOT include the appointment description/notes (!!!) or, of course, the email subject or body.





BUT... If I examine the .ICS file in a text editor, I can clearly see a DESCRIPTION field with the missing appointment description/notes data [line 24]:

Code:
BEGIN:VCALENDAR
PRODID:-//Microsoft Corporation//Outlook 16.0 MIMEDIR//EN
VERSION:2.0
METHOD:REQUEST
X-MS-OLK-FORCEINSPECTOROPEN:TRUE
BEGIN:VTIMEZONE
TZID:Eastern Standard Time
BEGIN:STANDARD
DTSTART:16011104T020000
RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;BYDAY=1SU;BYMONTH=11
TZOFFSETFROM:-0400
TZOFFSETTO:-0500
END:STANDARD
BEGIN:DAYLIGHT
DTSTART:16010311T020000
RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;BYDAY=2SU;BYMONTH=3
TZOFFSETFROM:-0500
TZOFFSETTO:-0400
END:DAYLIGHT
END:VTIMEZONE
BEGIN:VEVENT
CLASS:PUBLIC
CREATED:20240626T032154Z
DESCRIPTION:Meeting comments here\n
DTEND;TZID="Eastern Standard Time":20240626T113000
DTSTAMP:20240626T032154Z
DTSTART;TZID="Eastern Standard Time":20240626T110000
LAST-MODIFIED:20240626T032154Z
LOCATION:Meeting location here
ORGANIZER;CN={REDACTED}
PRIORITY:5
SEQUENCE:0
SUMMARY;LANGUAGE=en-us:Meeting title here
TRANSP:OPAQUE
UID:{TRUNCATED}


Now it gets even more bizarre: If I go away and have a cup of tea and then come back and restart Outlook and try to hit "Forward" again on the very same email, sometimes if the wind is blowing the right way and the moon is in the right phase, just sometimes I might see the original email message that contained the meeting attachment in the forwarded email -- but sometimes not. Here's how this one looks when I finally get it to show after 20 minutes of clicking Forward and restarting Outlook again and again:





Notice the email body ("Email body here") is there now, but the appointment title ("Meeting title here") is still replacing the email subject line ("Email subject"), which is just gone.

(For reference, here's the original email message in raw format, showing the original email body and email subject, followed by the encoded .ICS attachment.)





To answer the question you didn't ask here but that I just know you were wondering about ;-) , I don't know what service created the Webinar invitation, but I can reproduce the issue, as I described above, just by creating a new appointment in Outlook itself, but instead of saving it into Outlook, I save it as an .ICS attachment and then attach that .ICS file to a new email message in Gmail and email it to my other email address that Outlook downloads from via POP3.
 
I thought I was hallucinating, but I just reproduced it and confirmed: The first time (and only the first time) I preview the incoming email in the Outlook Inbox, I can see the contents of the email message for a tiny fraction of a second, before it spontaneously changes to the appointment view. In the example above, I could see the words "Email body here" in the email preview pane for a flash, and then they disappeared, as if Outlook is (incorrectly) saying to itself, "Oh wait, this isn't an email, it's a meeting request, so I'm going to stop showing the email contents now."
 
No, I have not. some were on vcacation. Will ping again.
 
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