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Create Shortcuts or Hotkeys to Quickly Send Mail to a Recipient

If you’ve ever really looked at your sent mail folder, you’ve probably noticed a trend: You email the same people over and over and over! Since we’re big fans of automating repetitive tasks, today we’re going to look at how to create shortcuts to automatically email specific recipients.

You can even assign a hotkey to email a specific person this way, or email a list of people if you are so inclined.

Create a Quick Email Shortcut

Right-click anywhere on the desktop and choose New \ Shortcut from the menu.

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In the location box, enter in the email address that you would like to create the shortcut for, using the following syntax:

mailto:emailaddress@server.com

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This will create a shortcut to send an email using the default mail client. On the next page, you can give the shortcut a name, and I’d suggest using something descriptive like the name of the person.

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Now I have a shortcut that I can use to quickly open up a new email to myself, using my default mail client which happens to be Outlook 2007.

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If you right-click on this shortcut and choose Properties, you can add in a shortcut key as well.

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Now I can just use Ctrl+Alt+6 whenever I want to send an email to myself. If I wanted to attach a file, I can just drag it into the window (very useful to keep backups of certain important files)

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You might ask: Why would I email myself so often that I need a shortcut? The answer is simple: I use my email client to store lots of information like ideas, notes, or even sometimes todo items that I need to remind myself about.

Advanced Email MailTo Syntax

Sometimes you want to automate more than just opening an email with the To box already filled in. Luckily the mailto syntax accepts a lot more parameters than just the To field…

Field Syntax
To mailto:email@here.com
Subject subject=Subject Here
CC cc=email@here.com
BCC bcc=email@here.com
Body body=Text in Email Body
Multi-line Body body=Line 1%0A%0ALine 2

Each of these parameters can be added after the initial To field, with the first parameter requiring a ? character in front of it, and the next ones requiring a & character. Tip: If you want to use multiple email addresses in the To, CC or BCC fields, you can separate them with a comma.

For instance, if I wanted to add in a subject as well, I would use this mailto field:

mailto:geek@howtogeek.com?subject=Subjective!

Once I’ve added that first parameter with the ? character, maybe I want to add in a line into the body of the message as well. In that case I’d use a & character in front of the second parameter (in this case the body parameter):

mailto:geek@howtogeek.com?subject=Subjective!&body=Some Text in the Email Body

Here’s another example for good measure:

mailto:geek@howtogeek.com?cc=somebody@else.com&subject=Neato I can Pick the Subject&body=This is the body of the message

Using that example for a shortcut would yield the following when you clicked on the shortcut:

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This could be very useful for making a shortcut for an email you send all the time to the same person, like “Want to get lunch?” or “Where is that TPS report?”

Dock a Quick Send Folder to the Taskbar

Since I use these shortcuts so often, and I’ve got quite a few of them, I created a folder named “Quick Send” to hold all of the shortcuts.

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Then, by right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing Toolbars \ New Toolbar and selecting that folder:

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Now I have a quick access toolbar that I can use right from my taskbar to quickly fire up an email to one of the people that I email quite often.

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Shortcut for Remember The Milk Quick Task

For extra credit: If you are a fan of the Remember the Milk online Todo list, you can look under Settings \ Info and find the Inbox Email Address, which will let you create new Todo item via a special email address.

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This is the one shortcut that I use so often that I ended up assigning a shortcut key to it as well…

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/30/08

Comments (11)

  1. Mike Dunham

    Great tip! Note I had to convert all the spaces to %20 (the hex character for space), or else the shortcut just dropped everything after the first space. I’m using Outlook 2003 in WinXP, so maybe it’s different with a Vista machine.

  2. The Geek

    @Mike

    That’s a good point, I should have included something about it… I’m sure your comment will help others =)

  3. slapout

    I do something similar, but I simply leave it set to “mailto:”. The shortcut seems to open up a blank new mail message faster than hitting the “New mail” button in Outlook does.

  4. FizzyPopMan

    I love this tip… thanks!

    I’m using Outlook 2007 on Vista Ultimate.
    I have multiple e-mail accounts, each with different signatures.
    Is there anyway, for this method to choose which account and signature to use?

  5. IHateTheo1

    First time I have ever been on this site.

    I googled a completely unrealted problem, had a small poke around on the site, found this and bingo!! The answer to a small problem I have been trying to resolve for months!!

    Thank you very much

  6. laurie

    Hi there – I NEED HELP!!! I have Vista and somehow, in the middle of composing an email, I erroneously his some key or combination of keys and my message gets sent!!! This never occured with my Windows Xp and i happens frequently (I admit i am not the best typer but I do go fast and cannot figure out what it is!!! Very Frustrating!! Can anyone enlighten me??

  7. playgtar

    Great shortcut. It does actually work faster than hitting the new button in outlook. I have the to field filled out. Now I need to work on the beginning of the body. I ran out of time Friday at work. This will save me a lot of keystrokes though. I love this site! Power to The Geeks!

  8. ben

    THANKS FOR THE TIP!!!! First time to this site, was directed from LifeHacker and creating a new email shortcut has been something i’ve always dreamed of doing… and now i can! Thank you guys very much, you’ve got a new follower now.

  9. Nadeem

    I used to use this for outlook express on XP and windows mail on vista (using Gmail POP). After I hit send using the shortcuts from quick launch the email would send right away.

    I just changed to outlook 2007 and changed the shortcut (using Gmail IMAP). But when I hit send, the email doesn’t send right away, I have to start Outlook and click on Send/Recieve for the email to be sent…

    Anybody else have this problem too? I looked through Outlook options, theres no option for send immediately? Any ideas?

  10. Andrew

    Any shortcut for checking mail in Windows live mail?

  11. Philip

    I realise that this is an old post, but….
    How do you get the short cut to open a particular template that you have created as opposed to your new email default template?

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