Q: What can I use keyboard shortcuts for in Microsoft Outlook?

A: Microsoft's Windows OS has a long list of keyboard shortcuts to increase user efficiency and provide alternative input mechanisms for basic program functionality. Like most major applications, Microsoft Outlook uses Windows keyboard shortcuts for specific Outlook functionality and interface manipulation.

Microsoft has literally hundreds of keyboard shortcuts for Outlook! Many of the shortcuts are navigational, such as moving between or jumping to a specific folder (e.g., Ctrl + 1 for Mail, Ctrl + 2 for Calendar).

One keyboard shortcut that has always been mildly confusing to me is the one to initiate a Send and Receive in Outlook. I consider the Send and Receive command a form of refresh for email folders. In many Microsoft applications, F5 is commonly used to refresh the current interface and its rendered content. But in Outlook, F9 has always been the shortcut key to launch a manual Send and Receive request.

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts I use in Outlook that aren't as common as, say, Alt + S to send a message or Ctrl + N to create a new item.

Wherever you are in Outlook, you can easily launch the New Search Folder window by selecting Ctrl + Shift + P. I prefer keyboard shortcuts I can select with one hand, such as Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + V to paste. I use very few that need three keys and both hands; however, I use search folders a lot and this keyboard shortcut is one I favor.

When you're within the Calendar view in Outlook, the interface offers Day, Work Week (in Outlook 2010), Week, and Month views of the calendar. You can also get a 10-day view with a simple keyboard shortcut. With a day selected in the Outlook calendar, it's a simple Alt + 0 to render a 10-day view starting with the day that was highlighted. In fact, you can view any number of days from 1 through 10 by using Alt plus the number of days you want to see. For example, Alt + 8 shows a view of 8 days in your Outlook Calendar. If you're displaying multiple calendars, this setting applies to all of them simultaneously.

If you code simple macros or work in Visual Basic for Applications through Outlook, you probably use Alt + F11 to launch the Visual Basic Editor within Outlook. The Visual Basic Editor opens up to the same file (if any, and if available) that was accessed when it was last closed.

Microsoft publishes a formal list of keyboard shortcuts for different versions of Microsoft Outlook. You can expand the categories of shortcuts and print their pages for a complete reference.

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