Last reviewed on February 9, 2015   —  15 Comments

Anyone who has a new tablet knows how hard it can be to only use touch in Outlook (especially on a high-res screen) – I’m always opening the on-screen keyboard, even though it takes up half the screen. (I want the small onscreen keyboard I had on my old Tablet PC.)

What if you only had a keyboard? Could you get anything done?

I started thinking about this when a guy told me creates new messages by opening sent messages and replacing the contents because his new mail button was missing. I don’t know about you, but I think the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+M would be faster. Ctrl+N will also open a new message form when you are viewing a Mail folder, but I like the shortcut that works anywhere in Outlook – it’s easier to remember when I use it all the time.

Ctrl+N will get you a New item form in any folder. If you’re in a mail folder, Ctrl+N will open a new message form; if you are in the calendar, you’ll get a new appointment form.

Use Ctrl+Shift+M for new Mail when you are working in any folder, Ctrl+Shift+A for new Appointment, Ctrl+Shift+C for new Contact, or Ctrl+Shift+N for Note. Notice the pattern? Tasks and Meetings break the pattern as you’ll use Ctrl+Shift+K for a new task and Ctrl+Shift+Q for a new meeting, but appointments can be turned into meetings easy enough.

To Save the item you are working on, press Ctrl+S (this is Save in all Windows applications). Use Alt+S to Send an email, meeting or task request. Alt+S will Save and Close contacts, appointments, and tasks (since they can’t be sent.)

Need to Reply to a message? Use Ctrl+R, or Ctrl+Shift+R to Reply All. Forward is Ctrl+F. More patterns.

Need to go to the Inbox? Use Ctrl+Shift+I. The Outbox is Ctrl+Shift+O. It would be nice if we had shortcuts for Junk Email, Drafts and Sent Items…

Copy, Cut, Paste and Select All work in most (or all) Windows programs. Those shortcuts are Ctrl+C, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V and Ctrl+A. If you need to Print, use Ctrl+P. Paste breaks the pattern, but V is more convenient to use after Ctrl+C or X.

Want to initiate a send and receive? Use F9 instead of the Send & Receive button. Use Ctrl+Alt+S to open the Send & Receive Settings dialog.

If you are looking at your day, week or monthly calendar, Alt+0 thru 9 (or, 1 through 0) displays the next 1 to 10 days. Ctrl+Alt+1 through 5 switches from a day (1) to work week (2) to week (3) to month (4) then schedule view (5).

Ctrl+1 jumps to the Mail module, while Calendar is Ctrl+2, Contacts are Ctrl+3. Ctrl+6 is the Folder List. Ctrl+4, 5, 7, and 8 (9 if you use BCM) cover the rest of the navigation pane modules. Use Ctrl+Y to open the folder picker.

Alt+F4 will close the current window. This is a Windows shortcut and works in most programs; it will also bring up the Shutdown window, which is handy in Windows 8.

Outlook Shortcuts

Outlook’s main window | Reading messages | Working with folder and list views
When editing items | Appointment and Meeting shortcuts | Calendar shortcuts | Task shortcuts
Common Windows shortcuts

Outlook’s main window:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Open Mail module in Navigation pane Ctrl+ 1
Open Calendar module Ctrl+ 2
Open Contacts module Ctrl+ 3
Open Tasks Module Ctrl+ 4
Open Notes Module Ctrl+ 5
Open Folder list Ctrl+ 6
Open Shortcuts Module Ctrl+ 7
Open Journal module Ctrl+ 8
Open Folder picker dialog Ctrl+ Y
Rotate Navigation pane on, off, minimized Alt+F1
Rotate To-Do bar on, off, minimized Alt+F2
Switch to Inbox Ctrl+Shift+ I
Switch to Outbox Ctrl+Shift+ O
Open the Address Book Ctrl+Shift+ B
Open Send and Receive Settings dialog Ctrl+Alt+ S
Open Advanced find dialog Ctrl+Shift+ F
Add a Quick Flag or mark completed. Insert
Reply to a message Ctrl+ R
Reply All to a message Ctrl+Shift+ R
Forward Ctrl+ F
Forward as attachment (Outlook 2007 and up) Ctrl+Alt+ F
Mark a message as read Ctrl+ Q
Mark message as unread Ctrl+ U
Advance through message in reading pane, then move to next message.
(Single key reading with space bar can be disabled in Options.)
Reverse when reading a message in reading pane using Single key reading. Shift+Spacebar
Delete an item Ctrl+ D or Del
Create a new item of the current folder type Ctrl+ N
Create a new Appointment (from any Outlook folder) Ctrl+Shift+ A
Create a new Contact (from any Outlook folder) Ctrl+Shift+ C
Create a new Task (from any Outlook folder) Ctrl+Shift+ K
Create a new Message (from any Outlook folder) Ctrl+Shift+ M
Create a new folder Ctrl+Shift+ E
Create a new journal entry (Removed from Outlook 2013) Ctrl+Shift+ J
Create a new Contact Group (distribution list) Ctrl+Shift+ L
Create a new meeting request Ctrl+Shift+ Q
Create a new note Ctrl+Shift+ N
Create a new task request Ctrl+Shift+ U
Create a new Post Ctrl+Shift+ S
Open Help F1
Open Find dialog or Find pane. F3
Expand dropdown menus, use arrow keys to select from list F4
Refresh the current window F5
Move to next window element
(Navigation pane, Message list, Reading pane, or To-Do Bar)
Run spell check F7
Send/Receive F9
Open VBA Editor Alt+F11

Reading messages:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
With a message open, Move to the Previous or Next message Ctrl + < or >
Reply to a message Ctrl+ R
Reply All to a message Ctrl+Shift+ R
Forward Ctrl+ F
Find (in the body of an opened message) F4

Working with folder and list views:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Expand or collapse the folder list Plus, minus or multiply (*) on numeric keypad
Expand or collapse all groups in list view Ctrl+ Plus or minus on numeric keypad
Expand or collapse current group in list view Ctrl+ left or right arrow keys
Move between header elements, attachment row, and body in the reading pane Ctrl+Tab use Shift+Ctrl+Tab to reverse

When editing items

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Increase or decrease font size when composing HTML Ctrl+ [ or ]
Show/hide formatting marks Ctrl+Shift+ 8
Toggle form fields off and on Alt+F9
Send Message or meeting /task request; Save and Close other forms Alt+ S
Save Ctrl+ S
Send (enable in Options) Ctrl+Enter

Appointment and Meeting shortcuts:

You can use shortcuts to enter dates. Use w for weeks, d for day, mo for month, and y for year. Enter date in 1w format.  Use h for hours and m for minutes for times.

Can type times as numbers only: 230 instead of 2:30 PM.

When typing times in the snooze field, shortcuts won’t work. You need to type the words week, day, hour or minute in full: “27 minutes”

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Set up recurrence for an appointment or task Ctrl+G

Calendar shortcuts:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Show 1 day Alt+ 1
Show 2 days Alt+ 2
Show 3 days Alt+ 3
Show 4 days Alt+ 4
Show 5 days Alt+ 5
Show 6 days Alt+ 6
Show 7 days Alt+ 7
Show 8 days Alt+ 8
Show 9 days Alt+ 9
Show 10 days Alt+ 0
Switch to the Day View Ctrl+Alt+ 1
Switch to the Work Week View Ctrl+Alt+ 2
Switch to the Week View Ctrl+Alt+ 3 (Outlook 2010/2013)
Alt+ – (minus) (All)
Switch to the Month View Ctrl+Alt+ 4 (Outlook 2010/2013)
Alt+ = (equal) (All)
Switch to the Schedule View Ctrl+Alt+ 5
Go to a date Ctrl+ G
Go to the next or previous  day Ctrl+ left or right arrow
Go to the next or previous week Alt+ up or down arrow
Go to the next or previous month Alt+ page up or page down
Go to the start or end of the week Alt+ Home or End
Go to next or previous appointment Ctrl+ comma or period

Task shortcuts:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Show or hide the To-Do Bar. Alt+F2
Accept a task request. Alt+C
Decline a task request. Alt+D
Find a task or other item. Ctrl+E
Create a new task (when in Tasks). Ctrl+N
Create a new task (from any Outlook folder). Ctrl+Shift+K
Create a new task request. Ctrl+Shift+U
Open selected item. Ctrl+O
Forward a task as an attachment. Ctrl+F
Switch between the Navigation Pane, Tasks list, and To-Do Bar. Shift+Tab
Flag an item or mark complete. Insert

Common Windows shortcuts:

Tip for Windows 8 users: The Windows key is your friend.

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Select all text Ctrl+ A
Save Ctrl+ S
Copy text Ctrl+ C
Paste text Ctrl+ V
Cut text Ctrl+ X
Undo Ctrl+ Z
Print Ctrl+ P
Move forward through a form’s fields/windows TAB
Move backward through a form’s fields/windows Shift+TAB
Close the active window Alt+F4
Cancel edits and close a form ESC
Move the cursor to the start of the next or previous word Ctrl+ right or left arrow
Reset Zoom (100%) Ctrl+0
Increase and Decrease Zoom Ctrl+ + (Plus) or – (Minus)


  1. Ron Palmquist says

    We cannot send or receive e-mails from/to any of our three addresses - HELP! WE can receive them on our I-phones.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Do you receive any error messages when you try to send or receive? What type of email accounts do you have?

  2. Victor says

    Hi there,

    thank you a lot for this. in Outlook 2013 can I specify the default folder in which to create a new task when using Ctrl+Shift+K? I want my account tasklist folder to be the default folder. I have already setup EAS account in my desktop Outlook 2013.

    Thanks for reply,


    • Diane Poremsky says

      New tasks will either go into the Task folder in the pst you are working in or in the task folder that is in the default data file. So.. if you set the data file as default and delete any other Tasks folders in your profile, they should all go into the tasks folder in (You'll either need to use MFCMAPI to delete task folders in other data files or create new data files.)

    • Diane Poremsky says

      To the best of my knowledge, there is not a direct shortcut. Alt+ H,F,C then the arrow keys will allow you to pick red, but it's a stretch to call that a shortcut.

  3. Bridgette says

    Hi, Diane. Is there a way to set up a hotkey shortcut/macro to an add-in on the ribbon toolbar in Outlook 2013 (i.e. Evernote)? Thanks for all of your help. Your blogs are very helpful.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I assume you mean "an easy to use shortcut that won't be as long as novel" shortcut. :) Alt+ at least 4 - 6 keystrokes should be available, probably something like Alt+Y1YA (you only need Alt for the first key, the shortcuts should stay enabled as you work through any menus.)

      Otherwise, no, unless you can add it to the QAT - then its Alt+nn where nn is the position number. (I'm not sure if addin's buttons can be added to the QAT.)

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The only zoom shortcut I am aware of is ctrl+0, +, or - (100%, larger, smaller) but they do not work in email. Sorry.

    • Christian says

      Hold CTRL and scroll the wheel of your mouse.
      A great pity that CTRL + 0, + + and + - doesn't work and can't be configured.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Yeah, it's annoying. You can also use the zoom button and the zoom slider controls, but the keyboard shortcuts are usually faster... when they exist. :)

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