OOo Off the Wall: Fielding Questions, Part 4 - Mail Merges

It takes a while to get the hang of mail merges, but OOo 2.0's new Mail Merge Wizard helps make them easier to use.
Creating Target Documents for Mail Merges

Version 2.0 assumes that most users don't need anything other than the wizard. If you want to do anything except the merges included in the wizard, you need to add the tool to the menu. You can make this addition from Tools > Customize > Menu. Select the Tool menu from the drop-down list at the top of the page and then select the Add > Documents > Mail Merge > Add.

Figure 6. You need to place the Mail Merge tool into a menu before you can use it.

If you want to position the tool, use the up and down arrows on the Tools > Customize > Menu. Placing it above the Mail Merge Wizard is a useful place for it.

Figure 7. Select Mail Merge from the list of available tools to add it to a menu.

When you are ready to run the mail merge, follow these steps:

1. If you are going to print to files, place the source document in a separate folder. All the target documents go into the same folder, making them easier to find later.

2. Select Tools > Mail Merge. The Mail Merge screen opens.

Figure 8. The first step in a mail merge: selecting the source document.

3. Choose the source document from which to create the output documents. You can choose the current document or a template, that is, another source document.

After you choose, select the OK button to continue. The Mail Merge screen opens. Essentially, this screen shows the data source window on the top and printing options on the bottom.

Figure 9. The Main Window for the Mail Merge Tool

4. In the data source window, select the database, the table and the database fields to use. Remember that for spreadsheets, the table is the sheet and the database fields are the columns. Similarly, for Mozilla address books, the table is the Named address book and the database fields are the columns.

You can open a different data source from the one you used to design the source documents. However, in order for you to use all the fields, the data source must have all the fields that you added to the labels.

5. Select the records to print. Do one of the following:

  • Select Records > All to print an envelope for each record.

  • From the data source screen, select the records to add to the labels. For each record, select its row header. Press the Shift key to select all records between two that you select or the Ctrl key to select multiple records. Selected records have a checkmark in their row header. When you have selected at least one record, Record > Selected Records becomes available. Select it.

  • Select Records > From to end a range of records that you want to print. To see what number each record has, look at the bottom of the data source table.

6. Select the output. You can choose either Printer or File. Note that the File option produces a Writer file, not a postscript file. One file is produced for each record.

7. If you want the output to be printed as series of single print jobs, select the Single print jobs box. This option is useful when printing to a shared printer. Merge documents are likely to be large, and single print jobs give others a chance to print between your jobs.

8. If you are printing to a file, either enter the directory for the file in the Path field or use the browsing button at the end of the field to locate the directory in a file manager.

9. If you are printing to file, choose how files should be named. Choices are:

  • Database setting: files take their name from a database field. If one of the fields is a company or individual's name, this might be the best option.

  • Manual setting: files begin with a base name that you enter, followed by a number corresponding to the record's position in the data source.

10. Select the OK button to print the individual copies of the merge document. If you print to a file, you can print each individual file later.


-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)


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And mail merge to Thunderbird Please!!!!

Anonymous's picture

This feature would help so many people. It's been driving me crazy for months trying to do this.

Thunderbird Addressbook Connection

Darren V. Hart's picture

I have seen in mentioned on several places on the web that you can can use a Thunderbird addressbook in OO. I haven't been able to get that to work. In OpenOffice2 (1.9.129 - Ubuntu Breezy):

File->Wizards->Address Data Source

There is no option for a mozilla/netscape/thunderbird addressbook.


Under connect to an existing databse there is no mozilla/netscape/thunderbird type.

Under OpenOffice 1.1 (1.1.5 - Ubuntu Breezy)
File->Template->Address Book Souce - just real database and textfile types
Tools->Datasources - Same as above

Tools->Mail Merge
From this document
Address Data Source AutoPilot

There is actually a Mozilla/Netscape option here! I select it, click next and get this error:

The connection could not be established, Please check the settings made for the data source.

Clicking more has several fields:

Information - The connection could not be established.
Details - Please check the settings made for the data source.
Error - The connection to the external data source could not be established. No SDBC driver was found for the given URL.
SQL Status - "
Information -
Details - sdbc:address:mozilla

Is there an external sdbc driver I need to find and install or something? I haven' seen it mentioned in these tutorials anywhere.

Now if the OO developers coul

Anonymous's picture

Now if the OO developers could just create a mail merge function that didn't crash when doing large merges !!!!

Re: Now if the OO developers coul

Anonymous's picture

How large is large?

I've done mail merges that produced 500 copies.

Possibly, the number of merges you can do depends on system memory.

- Bruce Byfield

email output from mail merge

DebbyK's picture

Any chance there is a way to create an email output from this instead of sending to printer or a file? That's what I really need to do!

Debby Kilburn
Cerro Coso Community College

OOo's mail merge

Satish's picture

the article is very informative and use full
thanks a lot
NIIT Computers