Terrence Dorsey

Writer. Editor. Nerd.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Outlook on Mac OS

I'm just going to come straight out and say it: Outlook on the Mac is a pretty decent mail client, particularly if your employer has invested in well-run Exchange and Active Directory services.

Here's the problem, though.

You're dealing with new messages in your inbox, and most tasks can be accomplished without taking your hands off the keyboard.

↑ and ↓ take care of navigating through messages.

⌘-R starts a reply, or ⇧-⌘-R (Shift-CMD-R) to reply all... used with extreme caution, please. ("Bedlam DL3?" "Me Too!")

⌘-N starts a new message. ⇥ (Tab) through the address and subject fields to the message body. ⌘-↵ (CMD-Enter) sends the message.

⌫ and ⌦ are handy, too. I use these most of all.

Now, what if you want to move a message? The keyboard shortcut is ⇧-⌘-M (Shift-CMD-M), which brings up a dialog box to select the folder. (Note that the folder has to exist already. Type a folder name, select it from the list if more than one matches the search string, then press ↵ to move the message.

Moving messages

Unfortunately, that's a lot of work if you move messages to specific folders frequently. Here's where we use some built-in Mac OS functionality to create a keyboard shortcut.

When you move a message to a folder by using the ⇧-⌘-M (Shift-CMD-M) or by clicking the Move button on the ribbon, Outlook adds that action to its Move menu items. You can see these by clicking Message > Move and noting the items at the top of the menu.

Move commands

So, first, use either the Move button or the the ⇧-⌘-M action to register the destination in this menu. Note the name exactly as it appears here.

Now go to System Preference > Keyboard > Shortcuts.

Select App Shortcuts, then click the + button to add a new shortcut.

New App Shortcut

For Application choose Microsoft Outlook.app (it may be in the system Applications folder rather than your user Applications).

For Menu Title type in the exact name that appears in Outlook's Move menu. In my example here it's "Status (Mailbox - Dorsey, Terrence)". Your Mac will find this. It's magic.

For Keyboard Shortcut, type the shortcut key combination.

Shortcut details

Click Add and you're good to go (assuming no conflicts with other system or app shortcuts).

Now, when you want to move a selected message, just use your keyboard shortcut. As an added bonus, if you ever reorganize folders in Outlook, the app is smart enough to continue routing messages to the right place.


Toolbox: Visual Studio Code Profiling

Code performance testing and profling tools should be part of every developer's toolbox. You don't want to spend too much time tweaking performance right from the start, but it's always good to know where your applications spend their time and resources. Inefficiencies can add up in big systems.

For an overview of current tools that support code profiling in Visual Studio 2013 and 2015, check out my July column in Visual Studio Magazine, 11 Code Profiling and Performance Tools for Visual Studio.


Toolbox: AutoHotKey

Apps for keyboard shortcuts, text expansion, and macros are a key part of my computer setup for both work and play. On the Mac there are lots of choices, but on Windows, one application stands tall: AutoHotKey.

It actually took several tries for me to grok AutoHotKey and really start to harness its amazing feature set. It really came down to two problems: deep, deep, deep capabilities and poor tutorials that try to show you too much too soon. The first isn't really a problem unless you get stuck, as I did, wondering where to start (and how to start AutoHotKey... it's not immediately obvious).

In the June 2015 edition of Visual Studio Magazine I attempted to address that second problem with my article Automate All the Things: An AutoHotKey Primer for Developers. Hopefully this brief, directed tutorial will introduce you to the most important features and get you using AutoHotKey quickly. From there, only your coding skills and imagination stand in the way.


Toolbox: Indie and Small-Press Programming Books

Eternal vigilance. Always be learning!

That philosophy has served me well through a pretty interesting career in technology. Today, we have so much great learning content available from blogs and videos to online tutorials and Q&A sites. Ebooks still have an advantage in some cases, particularly where the author has taken the time to provide a well-organized, holistic overview of a topic that can't be covered as well in 500-word blog posts.

In the May edition of Visual Studio Magazine I wrote about 18 Indie and Small-Press Programming Books that will help level up your skills. In many cases, most of the purchase price of these books goes directly to the author, so you're gaining knowledge and helping a fellow developer at the same time. Win-win!


Toolbox: Project Management Extensions for Visual Studio

Writing the code for your software projects is plenty of work on its own, but if you don't keep track of all the other facets of your project, the whole thing can come down like a house of cars. In the April issue of Visual Studio Magazine I shared 9 Cool Extensions for Keeping Visual Studio Projects on Track, focusing on new Visual Studio 2013 and 2015 extensions that specifically help organize the code-build-release cycle — from Git branch workflows to Continuous Integration and release management.


Toolbox: Documentation with GitHub Pages

Writing documentation for software (or any product, for that matter) takes enough time, effort, and expertise. Publishing documentation is an often overlooked part of that task. In the March issue of Visual Studio Magazine I explained How To Simplify the Dreaded Task of Documentation Publishing with GitHub Pages based on some work I've been doing at ESPN to document out web APIs.

The solution takes some pretty simple ingredients: Markdown, Jekyll, Git, and GitHub. I explain how these fit together and how GitHub's built-in GitHub Pages lets you host content for free. Example repos included.


Toolbox: 9 New Visual Studio 2013 Extensions

It's April, so about time I told you about my February Visual Studio Magazine column, 9 New Visual Studio 2013 Extensions — a pretty good selection for only a month into the new year.

Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition is making extensions (and extension development) available to a larger group of developers, and I think we're going to see a wave of exciting new extensions in the run-up to Visual Studio 2015.


Tap Utils for TapCellar

If you enjoy exploring craft beer, TapCellar, created by my friends Gabe and Jeff, is a fantastic beer journal app for iPhone. Rate the beers you've tried, share recommendations with friends, keep a shopping list, even track the contents of your beer cellar. It's a great app. Check it out.

In fact, I like TapCellar so much, I wrote Tap Utils, a collection of tiny Ruby command line scripts that let you extract interesting information from your TapCellar backup.


There are four scripts right now:

tap-avg-grades returns a table showing each style for which you've rated a beer, along with the average grade for the style, the number of beers rated for the style, and the standard deviation of grades. The standard deviation seemed like a clever idea at the time, but doesn't really tell you anything useful. I might change this a more relevant measurement at some point in the future.

tap-shopping prints out a nicely formatted ASCII shopping list from the beers in your Shopping List saved filter. You can sort the results by brewery, name, or style keywords.

tap-styles prints out a chart illustrating the number of graded beers for all styles with graded beers.

tap-timeline prints out a vertical scatter plot chart illustrating grades over time based on a name or style keyword. The screen shot above shows an example.

I learned a lot making these scripts and I hope you enjoy playing with them. There's decent documentation in the readme, and all of the utils should have --help options as well. Drink some beers, grade them in TapCellar, then print out some pretty charts. Above all else, have fun.


Toolbox: Microsoft Open Source Contributions

In the last year, Microsoft released a remarkable number of open-source projects under the .NET Foundation banner. Interested in using this code in your own projects? Maybe you want to contribute fixes, features, sample code, or documentation?

There's no magic to it. In January I wrote 5 Tips for Contributing to Microsoft Open Source Projects for Visual Studio Magazine, providing some background on these projects and advice from the project coordinators about how to become part of the community development effort.


Vim Setup Links

I've been trying to work a little vim practice into my editing. It's not to replace my trusty Sublime Text 3 setup, but rather to develop some muscle memory for those times when vim is the most robust editor at hand. And it's always good to have a backup.

This is just a quick dumping ground for some useful posts I've found while setting up a local vim environment.

Configuring Vim on Mac OS X by Tim Reynolds, including sample .vimrc setup.

Vim and iTerm2 color-schemes by Chris Hunt.

How to control vim colors by Alvin Alexander.

10 vim color schemes you need to own

My favorite ST3 color scheme, Plastic Code Wrap, ported to vim by JoeDF at PlasticCodeWrap/GVIM. JoeDF has ported Plastic Code Wrap to over 20 other editors as well.

Here's another vim port of Plastic Code Wrap by Chris Hoffman.

Vim Commands Cheat Sheet and a concise over view of the most common VIM Editor Commands.

And now to practice...


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