Keyboard Ninja: Create a Hotkey to Switch to Your Open Outlook Window

By Lowell Heddings on July 9th, 2008

Have you ever wondered how many times per day you check your email? For many of us, it’s far too often… and if every single time you have to click on a little icon in the tray, or find the Outlook button in the taskbar, it can get a little annoying. Instead of that, what I do is assign a hotkey to switch to my already open Outlook window.

This is especially helpful for those of us that have at least 37 windows open at any given point… alt-tab is just inefficient at that point.

Creating the Shortcut for the Hotkey

In order to assign the hotkey, you’ll need to first create a new shortcut in the start menu (or desktop), because the one in the Start menu doesn’t have the right options and the one in the quick launch won’t let you assign a hotkey.

To add one into the start menu, right-click on the Start button and then select “Open” from the menu:

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Browse down into the Programs folder (or further if you’d like), and then create a new shortcut to Outlook here (the easiest way is to just right-click drag the one from the quick launch)

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Now open up the properties, and make sure that the end of the Target line has the /recycle option (it should if you copied the one from the Quick Launch bar). This is the magic switch that will re-open your Outlook window, rather than opening a new instance of Outlook.

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Go ahead and assign your hotkey here in the Shortcut key box. As soon as you click the OK button the hotkey should be active. Note: You could have created this shortcut on the Desktop if you had wanted to.

Make Outlook Hide When Minimized

You can easily make Outlook 2007 minimize to the system tray by right-clicking the tray icon and choosing “Hide When Minimized”. I’m not sure if this option exists in prior versions or not.

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I find that once you get used to using a keyboard shortcut to switch to Outlook, you won’t want to live without it.

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 07/9/08
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