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Keyboard shortcuts

Want speed? Get cracking on these shortcuts and save time every day


People often ask us if we can help them receive less email. We have good news and bad news on this front. The good news is: yes, we can. We know two efficient ways to reduce email. One is to send less email, and the other is to get a different job. Let’s assume both are not likely to happen. Now comes the bad news. Trends show that you are actually likely to receive 30% more email next year.


So rather than focus on receiving less email we would like to focus on how to process the large amount of email you do receive more efficiently. This is why we dedicate a whole chapter to keyboard shortcuts. Along with learning improving your typing skills, this is one of the best ways to become a quicker email processor (and will save some energy, too).

In this chapter we share our favourite shortcuts for Outlook, Gmail and other clients. We recommend you try each out as you go through the list so you can see how they work. There is a printable Email Handyman cheat sheet that includes most of these shortcuts. We will also show how you can teach yourself new shortcuts in most computer programs.


Outlook has some amazing keyboard shortcuts, funnily most people know Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V and Ctrl-P etc. When I ask them the shortcut for Search which we do more than 20 times per day most do not know the shortcut. Which is a bit of a shame because I print about 2 times per month!

We recommend downloading the Tipbar and teaching yourself a handful of obvious keyboard shortcuts, especially the Move sequence which is kicked of with Ctrl-Shift V. Check out how that works in the following video and just to kick off a useful list we have selected our ten favourite shortcuts in Outlook in the list below (for a printable list please download the Tipbar).

Our top ten shortcuts in Outlook are:

  1. (Shift) Space => read mail in preview pane
  2. Ctrl+Shift+V => move mail
  3. Ctrl+E => search
  4. Ctrl+N => compose
  5. Ctrl+R => reply
  6. Ctrl+Shift+R => reply to all
  7. Ctrl+F => forward
  8. Ctrl+Enter => send
  9. Ctrl+Z => undo last action
  10. Ctrl+1/2/3 => show email/calendar/contacts


In Gmail keyboard shortcuts are turned off by default. This is sensible because of the limitations of processing your email from within a webbrowser. But when you turn them on in the general settings then very powerful shortcuts become available for speedy processing of your inbox.

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A tipbar for Gmail really doesn't make sense, as it is always available under your fingertips. By simply pressing the question mark key "?" Gmail will show you a lightbox with a full list of available shortcuts.

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Our top ten shortcuts in Gmail are:

  1. enter => open discussion
  2. v => move discussion
  3. / => move cursor to 'Search' box
  4. c => compose
  5. => reply
  6. => reply to all
  7. => forward
  8. Tab then Enter => Send
  9. => undo last action
  10. => show keyboard shortcuts

Mail for Mac

Though Mail for Mac support great keyboard shortcuts we have a small challenge in using the keyboard to move emails from one folder to another. If you only have one email account you can get away with using the 4 action folders as 'favourite folders' and then use Ctrl+Cmd and a number for the order of the folder to move the item.

It has drawbacks though, which is why we are great fan of the tool MsgFiler which is a plugin allowing you to set your own shortcut and be lightning fast in moving emails between folders.

Our top ten shortcuts in Mail for Mac are:

  1. (Shift) Space => read mail in preview pane
  2. Cmd+Opt+F => search
  3. Cmd+N => compose
  4. Cmd+R => reply
  5. Cmd+Shift+R => reply to all
  6. Cmd+Shift+F => forward
  7. Cmd+Shift+D => send
  8. Cmd+Z => undo last action
  9. Ctrl+W => close

Lotus Notes

In Lotus Notes moving emails with the keyboard is pretty tough but there are some great shortcuts that we recommend.

Our top ten shortcuts in Lotus Notes are:

  1. Ctrl+M => new email item
  2. Ctrl+F => find text and replace
  3. Ctrl+F8 => goto other open window
  4. Alt+1 => send mail
  5. Alt+2 => reply
  6. Alt+3 => reply to all
  7. Alt+4 => forward
  8. Insert => toggle between read and unread mark of document
  9. Ctrl+Z => undo last action
  10. Esc =>close item/window

Other clients and smartphones

We have provided training in many clients including Groupwise, iPads and Eudora ;) In general we believe there are still two sets of keyboard shortcuts that are relevant for a wider audience, the Blackberry and the iPad+keyboard. If you have any questions about other programs please do contact us.

And please note, one of our favourite keyboard shortcuts is F1 (Help) in any program you use frequently. Once opened search for keyboard shortlist to pick and learn relevant timesavers.


If you change the settings of your email on your blackberry it will help

you process them quicker

  1. To not show filed and sent items, go to Menu, - Options - General - Settings - Show filed/sent items and set to NO. This will clean up your mailbox to resemble your inbox.
  2. To make sure that if you delete a mail on your Blackberry that it is also deleted in your mailbox go to Menu - Options - Email Conciliation - And change the delete function to delete on both Blackberry and server.
  3. To file emails in your action folders or filed items press the i key. This will bring up your folder list and you can put the email in the desired folder.

iPad + keyboard

Processing email on tablets can actually be a very smooth process. First of al because tablets as less likely to tempt you to multitask (due to the sheer nature of the screen limitations and how the software has been built to deal with this). And secondly because the email applications on the tablets have been built for ultimate user simplicity.

One downside is the lack of a real keyboard, yet more and more people have moved to using an external keyboard for faster text entry. We are a big fan of the table+keyboard combination for day-to-day processing of email, and believe that the growing ability to use keyboard shortcuts are a real bliss.

The people at Lifehacking have compiled a full list of iPad keyboard shortcuts that are really worth checking out or printing. In case you have another tablet we recommend doing a Google search on just those words and finding a neat list to help you out.

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