Becoming a Keyboard Whiz in Outlook

Hello again to all my faithful readers! I apologize to you for my unintended summer hiatus over the past few months. During part of this time, my PC was under repair for a few weeks, and the only Internet connection that I could muster to collect my email was a pathetically ancient, dial-up modem, too slow to post anything.This humbling experience did give me an opportunity, however, to use my old Macintosh iBook (the clamshell type for nostalgia buffs), as well as some of the Mac applications. While not all MS Office applications and shortcuts are readily transferable to the Macintosh, many are, including an MS Outlook look-alike application called Entourage. It basically looks and works the same as Outlook and, as of I've said on other occasions, the Mac Apple command key often interchanges for the Ctrl key in Windows – for example Apple + N instead of Ctrl + N.

Enough said! Whether you’re using the standard Outlook in Windows or the Mac version of Entourage, you should have no trouble navigating many operations with the keyboard. Let’s try the following exercise with Windows Outlook:

Becoming a Keyboard Whiz in Outlook

  1. Perform the following steps:
    1. Type Start + D to view the Desktop
    2. Navigate with the arrow keys to the MS Outlook icon.
    3. Type Enter to open the application.
  2. If you're not already in the Inbox window, type Shift + Ctrl + I to get there.
  3. Type F9 or F5 (depending on your version) to check your incoming mail.
  4. Type F6 to enter the pane with your newly collected email.
  5. Hold Shift + Ctrl to highlight a few of your messages.
    If you have no new email, you can use old email inside the Inbox.
  6. Perform the following steps:
    1. Create a new folder (Shift + Ctrl + E).
    2. Call this new folder Transfer.
    3. Type Tab to reach the correct pane where to place this new folder and choose under Personal Folders.
    4. Click OK.
  7. Type Shift + Ctrl + V to move all your selected messages from step 5 into this new folder.
  8. Navigate to the new folder and open a message, select the entire message, (Ctrl + A) and copy it (Ctrl + C).
  9. Perform the following steps:
    1. Open a new task request (Shift + Ctrl + U)
    2. Add a recipient for the task
    3. Type Tab until you reach the message body and paste the contents into the new task (Ctrl + V).
  10. Type Alt + S (differs in Hebrew interface) to send the new task.

A Summary of MS Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts

The table below summarizes most of the MS Outlook keyboard shortcuts. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you seek that, check the site below.

Desired Action


Accept a task or meeting request

Alt + C

Add bullets to a message

Shift + Ctrl + L

Collect all mail

Ctrl + M/F5 or F9

Context menu

Shift + F10

Create new:

           distribution list
           new folder
           journal entry
           meeting request
           new note
           new task
           task request

Ctrl + Shift +…


Find messages


Flag a message for follow up

Shift + Ctrl + G

Forward a message

Ctrl + F

Go to a different folder

Ctrl + Y

Jump to Calendar

Ctrl + 2

Jump to Contacts

Ctrl + 3

Jump to Folder List

Ctrl + 6

Jump to Inbox

Shift + Ctrl + I

Jump to Mail

Ctrl + 1

Jump to Notes

Ctrl + 5

Jump to Outbox

Shift + Ctrl + O

Jump to Shortcuts

Ctrl + 7

Jump to Tasks

Ctrl + 4

Move a message to a different folder

Shift + Ctrl +V

New message, note, contact

(depends on which folder you are located in)

Ctrl + N

Reject a task or meeting request

Alt + D

Reply to a message

Alt + R

(different for Hebrew interface)

Select the Main Menu

(works with Hebrew interface too)


Send a message

Alt + S

(different for Hebrew interface)

Toggle between panes

Ctrl + Tab


View Next Item

Ctrl + Comma

View Previous Item

Ctrl + Period

Next month: We start investigating keyboard shortcuts for graphics software, first with Freehand.

I always welcome your comments and suggestions. Please email me at ]]