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25+ Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts to Work Faster & Save Time

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This post is part of a series called How to Use Microsoft Outlook (Essential Tutorial Guide).
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If you're like most of us, email takes up a lot of your day. But if you really think about it, you probably use many of the same Outlook tasks over and over. Finding those tasks in the drop-down menu can take a bit of time (especially if you haven't memorized where they are).

outlook email shortcuts
You can spend a lot of time on email if you don't know Outlook keyboard shortcuts. (Image source: Envato Elements)

There's a better way!

Outlook shortcuts are quicker and easier. Plus, there's no searching through drop-down menus. The Outlook shortcut keys can be done right from the keyboard. There are navigation shortcuts, search shortcuts, and many more. All you need to do to start using them is to learn a few dozen Outlook hotkeys.

In this tutorial, I'll go over the time-saving Outlook shortcuts you really need to know. I'll reveal the Outlook hotkeys for some of the most frequently used Outlook tasks.

Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery (Free eBook Download)

Before going further in learning how to use Microsoft Outlook keyboard shortcuts, be sure to grab our Free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It's packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.

Ultimate guide to inbox zero

Now let's dig into the material on how to compose an email with Outlook. 

Save Time With These Useful and Easy MS Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts

According to a study from Carleton University, the average worker spends between two and three hours on email every day (30% of their time). If this looks like your day and you’re not using Outlook shortcuts, you may be wasting time. While we may only be talking about a minute or two per task, if you’re a heavy email user those minutes could add up.

In this post we’ll look at four of the most common email uses:

  1. Creating/sending email messages
  2. Managing your email inbox
  3. Navigating to different sections of your email
  4. Searching your email for items

Let's take a look at how MS Outlook Keyboard shortcuts can help you save time in each of these areas.

1. How to Create Messages Quickly With Outlook Hotkeys

One of the most common uses for email has to do with creating sending messages. This category involves more than just composing and new message, though. It also includes creating replies to messages, forwarding messages to others, and more. Here are seven quick Outlook shortcuts that'll shave time off the message creation process:

Action

Outlook Hotkeys

From

Result

Create new message.

CTRL + Shift + M

Most Outlook screens

Opens New Messages window

Reply to message.

CTRL + R

Outlook Inbox, folder, or open email message. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Opens Reply window

Forward a message.

CTRL + F

Outlook Inbox, folder, or open email message. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Opens Forward window

Reply to a group message, sending reply to entire group.

Ctrl + Shift + R

Outlook Inbox, folder, or open email message. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Opens Reply window

Duplicate a message.

CTRL + C, then CTRL + V to create message copy

Outlook Inbox or folder with message selected. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Creates a copy of the selected message in the folder with the original message.

Insert a hyperlink.

CTRL + K

Open, unsent email message (includes message replies and forwards)

Opens the Insert Hyperlink dialog box.

Spellcheck a message.

F7

Open, unsent email message (includes message replies and forwards)

Outlook runs spellcheck

Here’s an example of how this works:

Let’s say you'd like to email a link to an article you just read to your boss.

Normally, to do this using the Outlook menu system you’d first take your hands off the keyboard. Then you’d use the mouse to click the Insert tab. Finally, you’d click the Link icon to get the Insert Hyperlink dialog box to display.

Outlook keyboard shortcuts can save quite a bit of time. To open the Insert Hyperlink dialog box all you'd do is type CTRL + K.

Here's a look at the dialog box:

Insert hyperlink dialog box
Use CTRL + K to open the Insert Hyperlink dialog box.

To learn more about how to compose and send messages using Microsoft Outlook, review this tutorial:

2. How to Manage Your Inbox

Another common email task is managing messages. This includes sending completed messages, deleting unwanted messages, organizing messages in folders, flagging important messages, and more. Here are some Outlook shortcut keys to help you manage your inbox efficiently:

Action

Outlook Hotkeys

From

Result

Send or receive Messages

F9

Most Outlook screens

You’ll briefly see the Outlook Send/Receive Progress prompt.

Delete Selected Message.

Highlight message, press Delete

Outlook Inbox or folder. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

The message is deleted.

Create a folder.

Ctrl + Shift + E

Most Outlook screens

Opens the Create New Folder dialog box

Move a message.

Ctrl + Shift + V

Outlook Inbox or folder with message selected. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Opens the Move Items dialog box.

Go to the folder list.

CTRL + 6

Most Outlook screens

Brings up the side panel on the left listing the Outlook folders

Open a message.

CTRL + O

Outlook Inbox or folder with message selected. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Opens a window with the selected message in it.

Flag a message.

CTRL + SHIFT + G

Outlook Inbox or folder with message selected. Note: This won’t work in an empty folder.

Brings up the Custom dialog box, which allows you to attach a flag to the selected message.

Here’s an example of how this works:

Let’s say you’ve just received a very important email that requires you to follow up on it. But you’re afraid you’ll forget to do the follow up. Message flags are ideal for this purpose.

Normally, to flag a message using the Outlook menu system you’d first take your hands off the keyboard. Then you’d use the mouse to make sure you were on the Home tab. Next, you’d click the Tags icon. From the drop-down menu you’d select Follow Up > Custom… to open the Custom dialog box.

With Outlook keyboard shortcuts you never have to take your hands of the keyboard to open the Insert Hyperlink dialog box. Simply press CTRL + Shift + G and the Custom dialog box opens automatically:

Custom dialog box
Use the CTRL + Shift + G hotkeys to open the Custom dialog box.

Here’s a tutorial that can help you discover even more ways to organize your MS Outlook inbox:

If you’d like to learn more about general email organizational principals, be sure to download our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery.

3. How to Navigate Quickly with Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts

There’s a lot to Outlook. Not only does it include your inbox, but there’s also an Outlook calendar, tasks list, contacts, and more. Relying on Outlook’s menu system to get to the part of Outlook where you need to be can slow you down. Try these timesaving Outlook shortcut keys instead:

Action

Outlook Hotkeys

From

Result

Go to a new task.

CTRL + Shift + K

Most Outlook screens

Opens the New Task window.

Switch to Mail view.

CTRL + 1

Most Outlook screens Note: This won't work from within an open email message.

Opens the Mail view screen.

Go to the Outlook calendar.

CTRL + 2

Most Outlook screens Note: This won't work from within an open email message.

Opens the Outlook calendar

Go to the Contacts list.

CTRL + 3

Most Outlook screens Note: This won't work from within an open email message.

Opens the Contacts list.

Switch to To-Do-List window.

CTRL + 4

Most Outlook screens Note: This won't work from within an open email message.

Opens the Outlook To-Do-List window

Go to the Notes window.

CTRL + 5

Most Outlook screens Note: This won't work from within an open email message.

Opens the Notes window.

Close an email.

ESC

Works within an open email message

Returns to the Mail view.

Here’s an example of how this works:

Let’s say you’ve just received a message that contains an important task in the body of the email. You want to add a new task immediately with the message still open before you forget. You don’t want to turn the message itself into a task since it contains other, unrelated information.

I’ve not been able to find a way to do this using the Outlook menu system without first closing the open email. So, first you’d take your hands off the keyboard so you can use the mouse. Then you’d close the email by clicking the x in the upper right corner. Next, you’d use the mouse to make sure you were on the Home tab. Then, you’d click the New Items icon. From the drop-down menu you’d select Task to open the New Task window.

Whew! If that sounds a bit complex, that’s because it is!

In contrast, to use the Outlook keyboard shortcut you’d just press CTRL + Shift + K. The New Task window opens without closing the email you’re looking at:

New task window
Use the CTRL + Shift + K keyboard shortcut to open a New Task window.

Learn more about using Outlook to manage your schedule and tasks in this tutorial:

4. Keyboard Shortcuts to Help You Use Search

The search capabilities are one of the most important features of any software tool and MS Outlook is no different. In Outlook email a search tool is included in the following areas:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Notes
  • Tasks
  • Mail view

No matter what part of Outlook you’re working in, Outlook search shortcuts can help you find what you’re looking for quickly:

Action

Outlook Hotkeys

From

Result

Go to search.

 

F3

Most Outlook screens

Immediately moves the cursor to the search box.

Go to the Advanced Find tool

 

CTRL + SHIFT + F

Most Outlook screens

Opens the Advanced Find dialog box.

Find a Message

CTRL + E

Mail view

Immediately moves the cursor to the search box.

Search for text in open email message.

F4

Open email

Opens the Find and Replace dialog box.

Expand search box to include subfolders

CTRL + Alt + Z

Mail view

The cursor moves to the search box and a drop-down appears showing recent searches.

Clear the search results

Esc

Most Outlook screens after a search has been run

Search results are removed from the screen.

Here’s an example of how the search shortcuts work:

You can use the Search box to do this.

Normally, to search for a specific message you’d first take your hands off the keyboard. Then you’d use the mouse to move to the Search box and type a phrase. Next, you’d click below the Search box to bring up the Advanced Search drop-down. From the drop-down menu you’d select Attachments to see a list of all the email messages with an attachment and the word you entered in the Search box.

With Outlook search shortcuts you can open the Advanced Find box. Simply press CTRL + Shift + F and the Advanced Find dialog box opens automatically. Type in any words you want to search for on the Messages tab, then switch to More Choices tab to specify Only items with: one or more attachments. When you’ve entered all parameters, click the Find Now button. Here’s a look at the Advanced Find dialog box:

Advanced find dialog box
Use CTRL + Shift + F to open the Advanced Find dialog box.

Learn more about using Outlook to search for messages in this tutorial:

How to Add Outlook Keyboard Shortcuts to Your Daily Routine

Many people are intimidated by the vast number of keyboard shortcuts available in MS Outlook. This tutorial has only touched on some of the more common shortcuts.

If you hesitate to use Outlook hotkeys because you're afraid you can't learn them all, remember that you don't need to learn them all. You just need to learn the shortcuts that'll help you the most. And you don't need to learn those all at once.

Here's an easy way to get started with shortcuts. Pick a handful of shortcuts that you know will save the most time. Put those shortcuts on paper and post it near your computer. (If you like one of the keyboard shortcut tables in this tutorial, you could print that out and post it instead.)

Now, it's easy to glance at the paper to help prompt your memory as you work.

More Helpful Email Tips and Strategies

Don't forget to sign up to the Tuts+ Business newsletter and grab our free eBookThe Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It's packed with inbox organization strategies and killer tips for managing all your incoming email more efficiently.

Free email ebook

Conclusion

You've just discovered how to bring up the Outlook commands you use most often quickly and efficiently using Outlook keyboard shortcuts. You can find a complete list of all keyboard shortcuts in MS Outlook on their support site. If Outlook is your email software, it only makes sense to learn the Outlook shortcut keys to perform the tasks you do often. Why not start using Outlook hotkeys today?

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