Quickly find a Contact in Outlook

If you keep your address list in Outlook, it’s mighty useful to be able to find a contact quickly to look up a phone number or an address.

The standard button bar has a text field to do just that: ‘Search address books’.


Unfortunately, too many people use their mouse to place the cursor into the edit box, which is slower than if you use a shortcut key to access the functionality. And Outlook doesn’t make it real clear what the shortcut key is, so I’ll tell you: it’s F11.

If you press F11 in the Outlook main screen, you can then type in a few characters (at least three) of the name you’re looking for.

Then press the Enter key to start the search. If Outlook finds just one contact, it will immediately display the contact. If it finds multiple contacts, it will display a simple ‘Choose Contact’ dialog in which you can select the contact you want.

You can also press F11 and then press F4 (or Alt+ArrowDown). This will open a list with the most recently searched contacts.


  1. AKW said >

    Great tip ! I will use this one a lot. A shortcut I use a lot: F6 to switch between panes.

  2. Anton said >

    Wouldn’t it be great if I could have this working not in the “Standard” toolbar but in the Menus toolbar. I can customize my outlook to include the search box in the menus bar, however F11 doesn’t jump there. 🙁

    The reason for this is that I’m running a minimalist Outlook version, there I only have a Menu toolbar and nothing else (no cluttering buttons, etc).

  3. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    @Anton – Yes, that would be nice. What would be even better is when Microsoft would open up Outlook, so that we would be able to configure shortcut keys and macros any way we want.

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