Software

Eight quick tips for working efficiently in Outlook's Calendar window

Sometimes the simplest tricks save you the most time. Here are eight easy-to-implement shortcuts that will put a lot of power at your fingertips.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/ittlehenrabi
The article Configure Outlook's Calendar view to suit your work routine shows several ways to configure the Calendar window to match the way you work. These tips require a bit of initial setup and afterward, you save time by eliminating repetitive steps. This month, I'll show you eight simple ways to save time on the fly.

Most of these tips will apply to all versions of Outlook, but I'm using Outlook 2016 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. There's no downloadable demonstration file.

1: Keyboard shortcuts

Some of us are still keyboard proficient and enjoy a good shortcut. Below I've listed a few for the most common Calendar window tasks:

  • [Ctrl]+2: Switch to Calendar
  • [Ctrl]+G: Display Go To Date dialog
  • [Alt]+=: Switch to Month calendar
  • [Alt]+-: Switch to Week view
  • [Ctrl]+[Alt]+2: Switch to Work Week view

Please share your favorite Calendar shortcuts in the Comments section below.

2: Copy from Clipboard

If you have content in a non-Outlook file that you'd like to copy into an appointment, you can use the Clipboard—you probably already know that. What you might not know is that you don't need to open a new appointment window first. Simply copy the content to the Clipboard from its source to the Clipboard (using [Ctrl]+C). Then, anywhere in Calendar view, press [Ctrl]+V to paste. Outlook will open a new appointment window complete with the content you copied to the Clipboard, defaulting to the current or selected day, as shown in Figure A. (This works with all Outlook items, not just the Calendar.)

Figure A

Figure A

When copying from the Clipboard into an appointment, you can bypass a few clicks.

SEE: Five apps that make Outlook easier to use

3: Email to meeting

One of the quickest ways to create a Calendar item is to use an existing email. Open the email message and then click Meeting on the Message tab in the Respond group. Doing so will open a Meeting window complete with the content from the email message, defaulting to the current date and time (Figure B), which you can change if you want. In the Meeting window, you can attach pertinent files and invite others. You can even copy the meeting to your calendar with a quick click.

Figure B

Figure B

Quickly create a meeting using an email.

4: Use language to find dates

Scrolling can be time-consuming, especially if the date you need is more than a few days away. Or perhaps you don't know the exact date, but you know it's x days into the future or in the past. Instead of using the date picker or even the Navigation calendar, you can use natural language or expressions to quickly access these dates. For example, press [Ctrl]+G to display the Go To Date dialog and enter 9 days from now as shown in Figure C. When you click OK, Outlook will select the appropriate date (Figure D).

Figure C

Figure C

Use real language to specify dates.

Figure D

Figure D

Outlook responds by selecting the appropriate date.

Outlook recognizes the following phrases:

  • day
  • week
  • month
  • year
  • now
  • before
  • next
  • after
  • last
  • this
  • ago
  • today
  • yesterday
  • tomorrow

Outlook also recognizes the days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, and so on) and the following holidays as fixed dates:

  • New Year's Day
  • Valentine's Day
  • Washington's Birthday
  • Saint Patrick's Day
  • Independence Day
  • Halloween
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas
  • New Year's Eve

5: Use expressions to find dates

For better or worse, using natural language (#4) to find dates is inconsistent; the most likely culprit is the terminology. While the phrase 9 days from now works, the phrase 15 days from now doesn't—not always. However, the expression 15d will. Identifying the date component in the expression is the key:

  • Use y for years
  • Use mo for months
  • Use w for weeks
  • Use d for days

To find days in the past, precede the expression with a hyphen (-); for example, -15d. You can also combine expressions.

SEE: Five presentation apps to replace PowerPoint

6: Appointments to Desktop

Did you know that you can drag an appointment to your Desktop? Simply restore the Outlook window and drag the appointment to the Desktop for quick access to that appointment without opening Outlook first.

7: View Calendar while in Mail

You've probably discovered this one, possibly by accident. If you want a quick glimpse of your Calendar while working in Mail (or any other window), hover over the Calendar shortcut. Doing so will display a small Calendar, as shown in Figure E. You can click dates to see appointments. You can view Tasks and People the same way.

Figure E

Figure E

Quickly display the calendar using the shortcut in the Navigation pane.

8: Drag and drop appointments and events

You don't have to open an event to change its date or time. Depending on the view, you can simply drag it to a new day or time slot. To copy instead of moving an event or appointment, hold down the [Ctrl] key while dragging it to a new day or time. Use this route when duplicating most of an event—it's easier than re-creating everything. Unfortunately, you can't change your mind—Undo doesn't work when dragging events and appointments.

Send me your question about Office

I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at susansalesharkins@gmail.com.

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About Susan Harkins

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.

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