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 optionsAll 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.
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.