Use the keyboard, Luke!

I’m immensely enjoying the GTD Summit in sunny California. And I’m not the only one. The atmosphere is great, and it’s terrific to meet people in person after reading their stories or exchanging e-mails.

This is a bunch of people who really get things done. Well, except for one thing: why do I see people using the mouse to move e-mails to other folders? I don’t get it.

Outlook has great support for keyboard shortcuts and if you’ll remember just four of them, you can archive your e-mails 40% faster! This is an impressive percentage when you want to get your inbox to empty every day!

To copy or move an e-mail to a different folder, use Ctrl+Shift+Y and Ctrl+Shift+V. These shortcut keys copy and move any Outlook item to another folder, so if you want to copy an e-mail to your calender you can use Ctrl+Shift+Y too. *)

To close an item, use Alt+S. This is useful after copying an e-mail to your tasks list, for instance. Outlook will show you the new task and Alt+S (Save and Close) makes it easy to finish working on the task.

And finally, to go to a different folder, just press Ctrl+Y. Outlook will display the ‘Go to Folder’ dialog. In this dialog you can select another folder using the cursor keys or by typing the name of the folder on the keyboard. If you’ve selected the correct folder, press Enter to go to that folder.

Enjoy your new speed.


*) If you think Ctrl+Shift+Y and Ctrl+Shift+V is too hard to use in real life, check out my e-book ‘Each Day Empty’. In it, you’ll learn how to set up Outlook for total productivity, including being able to use Alt+1 and Alt+2 instead of the more difficult standard Outlook shortcut keys for copying and moving e-mails.


  1. A Weaver said >

    Is it possible to sort e-mail (e.g., sender, date received, etc.) using a shortcut key?

  2. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    @A Weaver: yes, you can do that via the main menu.
    For instance, press Alt+V, Enter, F to sort on the From field.

  3. Fred said >


    I have your book and have adopted many of your recommendations. No surprisingly, the two tricks I use most are the Alt +1 and Alt + 2 to keep my inbox clean.

    I’ve got a challenge that just appeared and I can’t figure out how to resolve it. When in the Inbox (message highlighted) or with my cursor in a message using the reading pane, I can no longer Alt +1 to move it to the appropriate folder. I have to actually open the message for the Alt +1 to work. This issue began earlier this week.



  4. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Fred,

    Glad to hear that you enjoy my book.

    I’m not sure why the issue you describe could have happened. I haven’t heard about it before. When you are in the main interface, do you see the extra buttons?

    Kind regards,
    Taco Oosterkamp

  5. Fred said >

    Hey Taco,

    Last week I noticed that the buttons were missing from my menu. Added them back and it solved the problem.

    Thanks for the reply.

  6. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Fred,
    There seems to be a bug in Outlook that deletes new toolbars in some situations on some computers.
    The best work-around that I know of is to add the new buttons to one of the existing Outlook toolbars, without creating a new custom toolbar.
    I hope this helps.
    Taco Oosterkamp

  7. melixa said >

    nice job to you

  8. Mark said >

    Is it possible to set up a single shortcut key combo to move a message to a frequently-used folder? I’d love to eliminate the need to bring up the “Move Items” menu altogether. Thanks.

  9. Taco Oosterkamp said >

    Hi Mark,
    As far as I know you would need VBA script to do that.

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