How to create and use template shortcuts

In Shared Email Templates for Outlook

This feature is inspired by our customers' requests and feedback. Template shortcuts can be interpreted as templates for templates. You can create a number of template shortcuts and then construct your templates or email messages by using them in different combinations and order.

Template shortcuts: What's this

A template shortcut is a shortened name of a template that you can use to insert the template into a message, another template, a dataset, or a profile/team property.

To insert the template into your email, simply type two hash signs and a shortcut and click the Handle Shortcuts button. The shortened name will be replaced with the full text of your template and it does not matter how big this template is: a few lines or a few pages.

For example, here is a typical salutation you begin your emails with:

Hello ~%InsertRecipientFirstName,

I’m writing regarding your request.

Instead of including this text in each template, just create a separate one and add a shortcut to it, say, "hello1". Then begin all the templates where this salutation should be used with "##hello1":

##hello1

Some text

As a result, your messages will look like this:

Hello Joe,

I’m writing regarding your request.

Some text

Feel free to create as many templates of this kind as you need. The shortcuts may be as follows: "hello1", "hello2", "hello3".

You can also create a speedy reply with a few shortcuts combining them in a message. For example, if you have shortcuts for salutations, follow-ups and reply requests, you can insert the following:

##hello1

##followup

##askreply

Then click the Handle Shortcuts button to get something like this:

Hello Joe,

I’m writing regarding your request.

Is the issue you were having sorted out?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

How to create shortcuts

You can add a shortcut to an existing template or a new one.

Add shortcuts to new template

To create a new template, select the folder and click the New button:
Create new template.

Enter the name of your template, text, and click the Edit Shortcut icon:
Edit Shortcut.

Type in a name for your template shortcut (you can use both upper and lower case) and click Save:
Name your shortcut.

You'll see the name of your shortcut in blue:
Named shortcut.

Click the Save button to save your template.

Add shortcuts to existing template

Also, you can take an existing template and add a shortcut to it. In the template tree, stand on the template of interest and right in the preview pane click on the Edit Shortcut icon:
Edit shortcut.

Type in a name for your template shortcut (you can use both upper and lower case) and click Save:
Name your shortcut.

You'll see the shortcut name of your template in blue:
Named shortcut.

How to use shortcuts

You can create a number of template shortcuts and insert them right into your message body in Outlook. Also, you can use shortcuts to design ready-made reply templates.

Use shortcuts in email messages

To use template shortcuts in your email messages, type in the shortcuts' names directly into the message body in the order you want them to appear in your letter. To turn the shortcuts' names into text, click the Handle Shortcuts button in the bottom right corner of the add-in pane:

The Handle Shortcuts button.

Voila, shortcuts are processed and your message is ready:
Shortcuts are processed.

Use shortcuts in templates

Also, you can use template shortcuts as building blocks to construct email templates.

Create a new template and enter the names of your shortcuts in the order you want them to appear in the template text:

Shortcuts in your template.

Save your template.

When you paste this template into your message, text of the shortcuts will appear:
Shortcuts in your reply message.

Note. If you've got several shortcuts with the same name (they can be both in My Templates and teams) and enter this name into the message body, you'll get pasted the text of the "oldest" shortcut—the one that was created before all the other ones.

How to find all your shortcuts

To see all your shortcuts, click on the Shortcuts icon at the top of the pane:

See all shortcuts.

Note. If you've got several shortcuts with the same name, they will be displayed in red:

See shortcuts with the same name.

How to change and remove shortcuts

Select a template and click on its shortcut name in the preview pane:

See all shortcuts.

In the Edit shortcut box, you can rename the shortcut or remove the text completely to delete it:

See all shortcuts.

More about shortcuts

There are more ways to use shortcuts, you can find them on the Tips and tricks page and our blog.

Responses

Is it possible to create a keyboard shortcut for the Handle Shortcuts button? This would be much more efficient not having to physically select it.

Reply

Hi Tiffany,

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't provide us with a handling keyboard API. But we review all Office improvements via Office Insider and will definitely add keyboard shortcuts as soon as we get the required api changes.

Reply

In my opinion, it would be a better experience if shortcuts were replaced automatically instead of requiring a press of the Process Shortcuts button. Is this possible?

Ideally it would happen as soon as a shortcut tag has been completed (e.g. space/tab/enter pressed, or mouse clicked somewhere else?

The above would likely be the nicest option, negating the need for any of the interim options below...

A slightly less user-friendly option, but still an improvement, would be a shortcut combination for running the Process Shortcuts action?

Another improvement would be to detect shortcuts on pre-send and offer to substitute them at that point. It wouldn't be necessary if they were replaced as soon as they are complete, but in the interim it would help not to send an email without the shortcuts substituted. Ideally this option would allow viewing a preview of the email that would be sent rather than just substituting and then immediately sending (in case the substitution didn't work properly).

Reply

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your idea. However, it is impossible with the modern Office Extensibility technology. We could develop this feature if the add-in supports Outlook for Windows only. But for platform independent add-ins Microsoft guys have not supplied us with an event we need to trap keyboard input in the message body.

Another con is nested shortcuts, templates and macros. You can use shortcuts inside of messages, templates, profile and team properties. Behind a single shortcut, there may be a tree of other shortcuts, properties, templates, macros, etc. As the result, your final message can be built from various blocks, one of which can be a WTE macro dependent on the user’s input. Therefore, shortcuts are processed when the user inserts a template and/or clicks the Process shortcuts button.

Reply

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