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Free Email TutorialsHotmailHotmail Keyboard Shortcuts: Using Hotmail without the mouse

Hotmail Keyboard Shortcuts: Using Hotmail without the mouse

Keyboard shortcut Like regular email programs, any task inside Hotmail can be performed with the mouse; the only time a keyboard is really used by most users is to compose an email or type a reply. The rest of the time, they click rather than use the appropriate keyboard shortcut (as you will learn in this tutorial, Hotmail supports quite a few keyboard shortcuts for the tasks you most commonly perform when managing your emails). However, you will gain a lot of time by learning at least some of the keyboard shortcuts supported by Windows Live Mail.

Official list of Hotmail keyboard shortcuts Fortunately, these keyboard shortcuts are either exactly the same keystrokes you would use in Microsoft Outlook (2003 or otherwise), Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, or Outlook Express: this means that if you have already used keyboard shortcuts in one of these email programs, Hotmail's shortcuts will be very easy to remember - most of them are exactly the same. Conversely, learning Hotmail's keyboard shortcuts will also allow you to be more efficient when using a regular, desktop email client. Even a non-Microsoft email program like Mozilla Thunderbird uses many of these exact same keystrokes.

The last section of this tutorial shows you how to customize Hotmail's keyboard shortcuts.

General Keyboard Shortcuts

The following list of Hotmail keyboard shortcuts cover general email operations; the next section will show you the keyboard shortcuts associated with formatting your emails.

You may have noticed that some of the Hotmail keyboard shortcuts we just listed actually conflict with built-in browser functions. The Ctrl+R keyboard shortcut, for example, is the standard keystroke in Windows to refresh, or reload, a web page. But Hotmail actually "captures" the shortcut, and prevents it from bubbling up: this explains why hitting Ctrl+R will not refresh Hotmail's screen, whether an email is selected or not.

And the following keystrokes will only work when you are *not* inside a text editable field (otherwise, you will just end up typing the letters of the keyboard shortcut).

Hotmail shares it keyboard shortcut mappings with other popular applications Windows Live Hotmail also allows you to use keyboard shortcuts when you are composing an email; to make it easier to memorize, these are the same keyboard shortcuts you are probably familiar with from having used word processors like Microsoft Word. Many of Hotmail's keyboard shortcuts will also already be familiar to you if you have used email programs like Outlook or Windows Live Mail.

Email Formatting Keyboard Shortcuts

Let's start with the text formatting keyboard shortcuts available in Hotmail: each keyboard shortcut performs the same formatting task as the corresponding button in the email compose window's toolbar. All these keyboard shortcuts will not be new if you have gotten accustomed to using keyboard shortcuts in Windows word processing applications, from the almighty Microsoft Word, to the simple WordPad application that ships with Windows.

Hotmail formatting toolbar

Except for the insert link command, hitting the same keyboard shortcut will toggle the formatting option on or off. Example: hit Ctrl+B to make the selected text bold, and hit the same keystroke once more to remove the bold formatting (while having the same text selected of course).

Email Editor Keyboard Shortcuts (Compose Window)

Here are the keyboard shortcuts used for the email editor's remaining functionality:

General Text Editing Keyboard Shortcuts

And we will wrap up with an overview of the keyboard shortcuts that universally work in Windows text fields; these are not specific to Windows Live Hotmail's email compose window, but they will work in it too, since it is also a text editable field inside your web browser.

Text Navigation Keyboard Shortcuts

And the following partial list of keyboard shortcuts allow you to navigate throughout editable text, not only in Hotmail, but in any text field in Windows.

If you press the Shift key, a "modifier", while using any of the text navigation keyboard shortcuts above, it will select the text between the cursor position and the final destination of your text selection/navigation command.

Customize Hotmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Configure Hotmail's keyboard shortcuts Not only does Hotmail let you use keyboard shortcuts, it lets you customize them! To customize Hotmail's keyboard shortcuts, click on Options, and choose More Options. Once the Hotmail Options screen has loaded, click on the Change keyboard shortcuts link under Customize your mail.

Keyboard shortcut options for Hotmail users

By default, Hotmail uses the same set of keyboard shortcuts as "Outlook Web Access (OWA)" - (this is the web application people who work with an Exchange server can use to remotely access their emails without having to use Microsoft Outlook). Hotmail lets use pick keyboard shortcuts emulating those used in two other popular webmail clients, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail.

Disable Hotmail keyboard shortcuts altogether

To prevent Hotmail from recognizing keystrokes, choose the Turn off keyboard shortcuts selection and click Save.

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