KC Lemson

By KC Lemson [MS]


Keyboard shortcuts in OWA 2003

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In OWA and Outlook, we're always interested in how people manage their inboxes - how do users handle email overload? A few main strategies came out of our usability studies - that users tended to be "Pilers or Filers". Pilers tend to let all their mail sit in their inbox, and they operate on it there. They like having it in one place for quick and easy sorting (and type-down search). Filers tend to file mail into separate folders - perhaps based on who it's from, or what action they need to take next, etc.

When OWA comes into the picture, it adds another twist - how a user manages mail in Outlook might not apply to OWA, since they might tend to use OWA for a quick scan of the inbox from home before going to work in the morning, or reading email in the evening, or a few minutes of email at a public kiosk while waiting for a meeting to start. One thing that we came across is that a lot of people wanted the ability to mark items as unread in OWA, because they used the 'unread' state as a way of tracking "the things I need to deal with once I get back to my office."

So in OWA 2003, we enabled mark as unread as well as other common tasks through keyboard shortcuts. This is one of my favorite features in OWA 2003, being the keyboard junkie that I am!

  • Ctrl+N: Create a new message/contact/appointment/etc, depending on what folder you're in. Note that the focus must be in the view (in the list of items) in order for this to work.
  • Ctrl+R: Reply to the selected message
  • Ctrl+Shift+R: Reply all to the selected message
  • Ctrl+Shift+F: Forward selected item (Note that it uses Shift so that it doesn't override Internet Explorer's "Find")
  • Ctrl+U: Mark selected item(s) as unread.
  • Ctrl+Q: Mark selected item(s) as read.
Most of the above are also accessible on the context (Right-click) menu when an item is selected.
Note: These shortcuts only work in the "uplevel" version of OWA 2003, so when using OWA with browsers such as IE4 and Netscape you won't be able to use the keyboard for these functions. http://support.microsoft.com/?id=327675 includes some more information on uplevel vs downlevel (the article is for Exchange 2000 but the gist is the same).
  • KC, any keyboard option to "select all"???

  • Kevin: Nope... I wish, though. I'd use that a lot. But in owa 2003 you can at least show 100 items in a folder.