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10 steps to creating an Outlook appointment (without using your mouse)

If you're a diehard keyboard fan, you'll appreciate this mouse-free technique for setting up your Outlook appointments.

Many of us, mostly old-timers, have a thing about the mouse -- we just prefer the keyboard. Perhaps it comes from years of working through command prompts. But regardless of the reason, users are always asking for keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately, the Office applications are rife with them. You can accomplish almost everything without ever touching a mouse. For instance, you can quickly create an Outlook appointment, a seemingly involved task, using nothing but the keyboard. Try it: It's easy!

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Open a Calendar window

You need to be in the Calendar window to create an appointment. If you're already there, great. If not, press [Ctrl]+2. Regardless of what window you're in, this shortcut will open a Calendar window.

2: Open a new appointment window

Once you're in the Calendar window, launch a new appointment by pressing [Ctrl]+N. If you're not in the Calendar window, you can press [Ctrl]+[Shift]+A, and skip step 1. Either way, Outlook launches an appointment window.

3: Enter a subject and location

Using either keyboard shortcut in step 2 opens an appointment window with the cursor in the Subject field. Enter the appointment's subject text. Press [Tab] to move to the Location field and enter a location. Press [Tab] to move to the date component of the Start Time.

In Outlook 2003, pressing [Tab] will take you to the Label option. Use the Up and Down arrows to select a label or press [Tab] to move on to the Start fields.

4: Specify start date and time

Using the keyboard, enter a date from the keyboard. Don't use the drop-down control. Tab to the Time field and using the keyboard, enter a starting time. Press [Tab] to move to the End Time field.

5: Specify end date and time

Enter an end date from the keyboard, press [Tab], and enter an end time. Press [Tab] to select the All Day Event option.

6: Set the All Day Event option

This option is a toggle control. Press [Spacebar] to check or clear this option. If you check the option, Outlook disables the time fields. Press [Tab] to move on to the body of the appointment.

In Outlook 2003, pressing [Tab] takes you to the Reminder. Use [Tab], [Shift]+[Tab], [Spacebar], and the Up and Down keys to set a reminder. Press [Tab] to move on to the body of the appointment.

7: Enter an appointment description

Enter additional descriptive information about the appointment. You might enter a meeting agenda, directions, or a reminder note about information you need to take to the appointment.

8: Categorize the appointment

To access the Category drop-down list, press [Alt]+H+G. (In Outlook 2003, press [Alt]+G.) Then, use the Down arrow to select a category item and press [Enter] or [Spacebar]. If the Rename Category dialog appears, work through it by tabbing through the options and pressing [Enter] at No. Or change the category's name by entering the appropriate data and pressing [Enter] at Yes.

9: Set other options

All options on the Ribbon are accessible via the keyboard, and you don't have to memorize all those keystroke combinations. Simply press [Alt]+H and Outlook will display tags for each option, as shown in Figure A. For instance, to access the Show As options, press [Alt]+H+B.

Figure A

Use these tags with [Alt]+H to access options from the keyboard.

10: Save the appointment

Once the appointment is complete, press [Alt]+S to save it. This keystroke combination also closes the window and returns you to the Calendar.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Why would anybody NOT use a mouse? Too much work. Time to scrap tyhis top 10 crap.

David A. Pimentel
David A. Pimentel

With respect to keyboard shortcuts, Outlook 2007/2010 are the most cumbersome incarnations of email applications that I've used to date. I have yet to find a simple way to remap the keyboard shortcuts within these new suites. As a 15+ year user of Office applications, I find this lacking. All the rave about the Ribbon's ease-of-use is overblown hype. If anyone has suggestions for remapping keyboard shortcuts, then I am eager to listen. However, keep all those useless links to yourselves that regurgitate the default settings, since Google provides that easily enough. Ciao.


Thanks again Susan. I did know most of them, because like you, I am of the "old school" of working with the keyboard, probably because I am a fast touch typist and find that using the mouse is quite often detrimental to the speed and efficiency of my work. I don't discount the mouse totally as it has its place, which is not always attached to the end of my wrist. Mix and match is my mantra.


I have seen people who have had to purchase a special mouse pad because they have wrist problems from over-use of the mouse. Mix and match is a better way of protecting yourself from RSI or carpel tunnel sydrome, or whatever else you wish to call it.


I notice that Outlook 2010 is more 24-hour clock friendly. I like entering times in 24-hour format (e.g. 1800 instead of 6:00 pm), but in Outlook 2007, the times weren't always recognized properly. Outlook 2010 accepts them and converts back to am/pm format for display. That makes appointment entry a lot faster (for me, anyway), since there's no shifting for the colon and letters/numbers.


I really do both -- and I have no real explanation for which route takes over. I think it's what I initially learn and then, that kind of takes over. :) I really do appreciate the keyboard shortcuts though.