A commentary about software in, from, about or somehow remotely connected to the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Find an Outlook Contact in 8 Keystrokes

Outlook 2007I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft fan, but I have to admit that several products from the Redmond folks have become ingrained in my work routine. First by professional necessity, then by force of habit I have come to rely on MS Office and Internet Explorer as well as Visual Studio when needed. I am proud to say I gave up FrontPage for Adobe Dreamweaver a while back.

As part of the Office suite, Outlook 2007 (aka Outlook 12) is one of my mainstays. I use it daily, not only for email, but also for calendaring and contact management. My productivity received a boost with the discovery that I can look up virtually any entry in my set of Outlook Contact folders in 8 or fewer keystrokes. The trick is to take advantage of a couple of Outlook 2007’s shortcut keys and the new Instant Search feature.

Outlook 2007 Instant Search

I have contacts spread over a number of folders, e.g. I’ve created a folder containing family and friends, another for recipients of a newsletter I send out, and yet another for clients of a small business that my wife runs. When looking up an address or phone number in the past, I often stumbled around looking for the right contacts folder, then clicked on the “File As” column header to sort by last name and scrolled down until I found the person I was looking for. Not quick.

Now I do this:

  1. Type Ctrl+3. This is the shortcut key for Go Contacts and brings me to a view of the Contacts root folder.

  2. Type Ctrl+Alt+A. This moves the cursor to the Instant Search box and sets the scope of the search to “All Contacts Folders.”

  3. Type the first 3 letters of the last name (or any other distinguishing field in the contact entry) of the person you are looking up. Quite rapidly Instant Search will display a list of contacts containing these 3 letters. I have several hundred contacts, but entering a search string of 3 letters usually results in no more than a screen full of results, and I can quickly locate the contact I’m after.

A similar process can be used to quickly find mail messages, calendar appointments, etc.

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