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Opening Outlook with a keyboard shortcut

Is there any way I can quickly open Outlook via a keyboard shortcut or jump to Outlook when it is already running?

You can assign a personal keyboard shortcut to a shortcut to Outlook. The caveat is that this shortcut to Outlook must be either on your Desktop or in your Start Menu. A personal keyboard shortcut to a Quick Launch shortcut will not work.

Using Windows Vista or Windows 7?

If you are using Windows Vista, you might not have to follow the steps below as Windows Vista and Windows 7 already have keyboard shortcuts to launch the first 10 applications which are in the Quick Launch toolbar of your Task Bar. If Outlook has already been added to the Quick Launch Toolbar (Outlook does this automatically when you start it for the first time), simply count which icon it is from the left. Then press the Windows key on your keyboard and the number, and that application will launch. Use 0 if it is the tenth application.

Windows Vista - Quick Launch icons
Pressing the Windows logo key + 3 on the keyboard will launch Outlook.

Windows XP and previous

If you are using Windows XP or previous, then you’ll have to create a custom shortcut on your Desktop or in your Start Menu (the default ones there will not allow you to assign it a keyboard shortcut).

First, determine the location of outlook.exe on your system. In general you’ll find it under;

  • 32-bit version of Windows
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office <version number>
  • 64-bit version of Windows
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office <version number>

If you can’t find it, do a search for outlook.exe or use OutlookTools (free) instead.

Once you’ve found outlook.exe we create a shortcut to it with the /recycle switch to prevent Outlook from opening an extra window each time you click the shortcut or use your keyboard shortcut.

  1. Right click on an empty space on your Desktop and choose New-> Shortcut
  2. Type the path to outlook.exe between quotes or browse to its location via the Browse… button
  3. Type a space behind that and /recycle
  4. The entire line should now look like this (example is for Outlook 2007 on a 32-bit Windows);
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE" /recycle
  5. Click Next
  6. Name your shortcut for instance: Microsoft Office Outlook
  7. Click Finish

Now assign it a keyboard shortcut;

  1. Right click the shortcut on your Desktop and choose Properties.
  2. On the Shortcut tab click in the Shortcut key field.
  3. Type a letter for the shortcut. For instance; o
  4. The keyboard shortcut will automatically be filled as CTRL+ALT+O
  5. Click OK

The keyboard shortcut should now work already. If you want to place it in your Start Menu instead of on the Desktop, right click on the Start Menu button and choose Explore. This will open your main folder of the Start Menu. You can now drag and drop the shortcut from the Desktop there or to any folder underneath it.

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