Top 5 Productivity Boosting Keyboard Shortcuts for Outlook 2011


Most people use Outlook 2011 for the Mac with very minimal training on how to use it. Even if you just use the surface-level features, Outlook 2011 is a great email client with clear, easy to find buttons and features. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Microsoft included tons of hidden shortcuts to make flying through your inbox a breeze.

I’ve done the hard work and researched the best shortcuts I could find for increasing productivity and reduce the time you need to spend in Outlook 2011 so you can get away from your email and on to the things that are really important. Here are my top 5 keyboard shortcuts for Outlook 2011 for the Mac.

1. Sending A Message

When you’re done typing a message there is no need to stop what you’re doing and click the Send button with your mouse, you can send right from your keyboard. Hit COMMAND + Return to send the message you just typed. It’s that easy and without touching the mouse you can move on to the next message.

2. Switch Between Outlook Features

Outlook 2011 gives you five products in one. You get email, calendar, contacts, Tasks Manager, and Notes in one tidy package. Using your mouse can pull you away from the work you’re doing and make you lose your train of thought. This is why Outlook 2011 allows you to easily switch between each service with your keyboard.

  • To access mail, use COMMAND + 1
  • To access the Calendar, use COMMAND + 2
  • To access Contacts, use COMMAND + 3
  • For Tasks, use COMMAND + 4
  • For Notes, use COMMAND + 5


3. Flagging E-Mails

Using flags in Outlook 2011 is a great way to organize your messages and create to-do lists for yourself. With keyboard shortcuts you can easily and quickly flag it for follow-up today, tomorrow, this week, or next week. This can let you fly through a long list of emails and organize them for when they need done.

  • CONTROL + 1 marks the email for today
  • CONTROL + 2 will mark the email for tomorrow
  • CONTROL + 3 sets the email to be completed by the end of the current week
  • CONTROL + 4 gives you till the end of the next full week

4. Show and Hide the Reading Pane

Sometimes the Reading Pane is useful, but sometimes you just need to see the full subject line by hiding it. This can be done using the Outlook 2011 menus, but trying to remember where this is can really pull you out of your workflow. Luckily, you can do this with two keyboard keys.

To show or hide the reading pane, hit COMMAND + \ and the reading pane will appear and disappear.

5. Quickly Reply to Emails

As you’re scrolling through emails and you see one you want to reply to, there is no need to click the Reply button in the Outlook 2011 Ribbon. You can quickly and easily open a Reply window by using COMMAND + R with the email selected.

This paired with tip #1 and #4 above can get you reading, replying, and sending emails without ever touching the mouse.

There are tons more useful keyboard shortcuts out there. To see the favorites from Microsoft, check out their site here.


Quick Facts

Here are a few quick facts about keyboard shortcuts.

  • Sacred Shortcuts – There are sets of keyboard shortcuts for every operating system that are known as “sacred” shortcuts. These keyboard shortcuts can only do their preset shortcuts. For the Mac, these include the shortcuts for Quit, Close Window, Italicize, Underline, Bold, and many other standard shortcuts.
  • The Origin of Shortcuts – Many keyboard shortcuts are the same in Mac and Windows, with COMMAND and CONTROL buttons interchanging between systems. Most of these started in the original Apple software and carried over to Microsoft.
  • Binding – The technical term for keyboard shortcuts are “key bindings.”
  • Modifier Key – The key that you hit along with a letter or number is known as the “modifier” key.


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