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 viewed as templates for templates. You can create a number of template shortcuts and use them in different combinations and order to construct your templates and email messages.

Click the button below to open or download a quick How to use template shortcuts cheat sheet:

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Template shortcuts: What's this

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

To insert a template that has a shortcut into your email, simply type two hash signs and the name of the shortcut in the message body, and then click the Handle Shortcuts button. The hash signs and the name of the shortcut will be replaced with the full text of the corresponding template, and it doesn't matter how big that template is (a few lines or a few pages).

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

Hello InsertRecipientFirstName,

I’m writing regarding your request.

Instead of typing this text in each and every template, create a separate template and add a shortcut to it, say, "hello1". Then begin all your templates where this salutation should be used with "##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 might be as follows: "hello1", "hello2", "hello3".

Also, you can create a speedy reply with a few shortcuts. For example, if you have shortcuts for salutations, follow-ups and reply requests, you can insert the following:




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?

I look forward to hearing from you.

How to create shortcuts

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

Add shortcuts to a new template

To start creating a template, select a folder and click the New Template button:
Create a new template.

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

Type in the name of your template shortcut (you can use both upper case and lower case) and click OK:
Name your shortcut.

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

Click the Save button to save your template.

Add shortcuts to an existing template

You can take an existing template and add a shortcut to it. Select a template and click the Edit Shortcut icon on the preview pane:
Here is the Edit Shortcut icon.

Name your template shortcut (you can use both upper case and lower case) and click Save:
Save your shortcut.

The template shortcut will be shown in blue:
Here is the template shortcut.

How to use shortcuts

You can create a number of template shortcuts and insert them right into the message body in your 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 the names of the shortcuts directly into the message body in the order you want them to appear in your email. To turn the shortcuts into text, click the Handle Shortcuts button in the lower-right corner of the add-in pane:
The Handle Shortcuts button

The shortcuts are processed, and you can enjoy the result:
Shortcuts have been processed.

Use shortcuts in templates

You can use template shortcuts as building blocks when constructing your templates.

Create a new template and enter the names of your shortcuts in the order they are supposed to appear there:
Shortcuts in your template

Save your template.

When you paste this template into your email message, the shortcuts will be replaced with text:
A resulting reply message

Note. If you've got several shortcuts with the same name and you enter this name into the message body, the text of the earliest shortcut will be pasted.

How to find all your shortcuts

To see all your shortcuts, click the Shortcuts icon at the top of the Shared Email Templates pane:
Available shortcuts

Note. Template shortcuts that have the same name are displayed in red:
Shortcuts with the same name are marked.

How to edit and remove shortcuts

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

Using the Edit shortcut dialog, you can rename your shortcut or delete it by removing the text in the Edit shortcut field.
Edit or remove a shortcut.

More about shortcuts

To learn more, visit our blog and the Tips and tricks for Shared Email Templates page.


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.

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).

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.

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