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Adding Hot Keys and Tool Bar Buttons

In last week's UPDATE, I shared Outlook's keyboard shortcuts for creating new items and launching key features. Although Outlook doesn't let you customize the keyboard layout as Microsoft Word does, you can create a few shortcuts of your own. The trick is that you need to add a toolbar command, then set a shortcut for the toolbar button.

For example, Outlook lets you press Ctrl+Shift+I to go to the Inbox and Ctrl+Shift+O to view the Outbox. But Ctrl+Shift+C doesn't display the Calendar or Contacts folder; instead, it creates a new item.

To create a toolbar button and shortcut to take you directly to the Calendar folder, right-click anywhere on the toolbars and choose Customize. On the Customize dialog box's Command tab, select the View category, then drag the command for Calendar to the toolbar, positioning it where you want your Calendar button to appear. The new Calendar button will show an underlined letter C to indicate that you should be able to press Alt+C to "click" the Calendar button. Close the Customize dialog box and try pressing Alt+C. Chances are that it won't work, unfortunately, because the Send/Receive button also uses Alt+C as its hot key.

Unless you want to study all the existing hot keys for menu and toolbar items to discover which letters aren't already in use, I suggest that you take a different approach and use numbers as the hot keys for launching Outlook folders. Right-click the toolbar and choose Customize again, then right-click the Calendar button. You should see that Outlook shows the button's name as &Calendar. The ampersand (&) preceding the letter C indicates that C is the hot key.

You can change both the name and the hot key. Type in 1- so that the new name for the button is &1-Calendar. Then close the Customize dialog box. You should now be able to press Alt+1 to launch the Calendar folder.

Have you written a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro that you'd like to run without going through the Macros dialog box? With the Customize dialog box open, under Categories, select Macros and drag your macro to a toolbar. Macro names tend to be long and ugly, so right-click the macro button and change the macro's name. Add an ampersand to set a hot key if you use the macro frequently.

You can also build toolbar buttons to launch favorite Web pages without going to the Favorites menu. With the Customize dialog box open, hold down the Ctrl key as you drag any existing toolbar button to the position where you want your Web page launch button. (It doesn't matter which button you use because we're going to give it a complete makeover.) Right-click the button you just copied and give it a new name—with an ampersand to create a hot key if you like. Then, choose Assign Hyperlink, Open to display a dialog box in which you can enter any URL or browse to a folder or file on your system. After you enter the link, click OK, then close the Customize dialog box. Note that launching a page from the Favorites menu opens it in Outlook and launching the page from a custom toolbar button opens the page in your browser.

To back up all your toolbar customizations, make a copy of the outcmd.dat file. The location will vary, depending on your version of Windows and network setup, so probably the easiest way to find the file is to search the drive on which Windows is installed.

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