Create and use template shortcuts

In Shared Email Templates for Microsoft Outlook

To get a quick Shortcuts cheat sheet, click the button below.

Download cheat sheet

How to use nested templates as building blocks for Outlook messages

How to use nested templates as building blocks for Outlook messages

This video shows how to create shortcuts for your templates to easily nest them within other templates and use as building blocks for email messages.

Run time: 03:08

What is a template shortcut

A template shortcut is a short name of a template. It always starts with two hash signs (##). You can use template shortcuts as building blocks for email messages and other templates. You can also use them in datasets and in profile or team properties.

Suppose you often use this salutation in your emails:

Hello InsertRecipientFirstName,

I'm writing regarding your request.

Instead of typing this text in each template where it's needed, you can create a separate template that will contain only this text, add a shortcut to it, say, "##hello1", and then include "##hello1" in all the templates where you want to use this salutation.

##hello1
...

When you insert such a template into an email message, "##hello1" will be replaced with the text of the corresponding template.

Hello Joe,

I'm writing regarding your request.
...

Also, you can enter template shortcuts directly into the message body.

##hello1

##followup

##askreply

Then you'll just need to click the Handle shortcuts button, and the template shortcuts that you've entered will be replaced with the content of the corresponding templates.

Hello Joe,

I'm writing regarding your request.

Is the problem you were having already fixed?

I look forward to hearing from you.

How to create a template shortcut

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

Add a shortcut to a new template

  1. Select a folder or a team, and then click the New Template button.
    The New Template button on the add-in pane
  2. Enter the name and text of your template, and then click ##.
    Two blue hash marks above the name of a template
  3. Enter the name of the shortcut you're creating. Select OK.
    The Create shortcut dialog
  4. The name of the shortcut is above the name of the template now. Save your template.
    A shortcut created for a template

Add a shortcut to an existing template

  1. Select a template, and then click ## on the preview pane.
    Two blue hash marks on the preview pane
  2. Enter the name of the shortcut. When you're done, select Save.
    The Create shortcut dialog

The name of the template shortcut will appear on the preview pane.
A shortcut created for a template

How to use template shortcuts

You can use template shortcuts as building blocks when creating templates and email messages.

Use shortcuts directly in email messages

  1. In the message body, type the names of template shortcuts, including hash signs (##).
    Template shortcuts in the message body
  2. In the lower-right corner of the add-in pane, select the Handle shortcuts button.
    The Handle shortcuts button on the add-in pane

As soon as the shortcuts are processed, the content of the corresponding templates appears in the email message.
A notification saying that shortcuts have been processed

Note. If you have several template shortcuts with the same name, the content of the earliest shortcut will be inserted.

Use shortcuts in templates

  1. In a template that you're creating or editing, type the names of template shortcuts, including hash signs (##).
    Template shortcuts in a template
  2. Save the template.
    The Save button in a template

When such a template is inserted into an email message, the content of the corresponding templates appears there.
A template containing template shortcuts is inserted into an email message

Note. If you have several template shortcuts with the same name, the content of the earliest shortcut will be inserted.

How to find all your template shortcuts

To see all your shortcuts, go to the Shortcuts tab.
The Shortcuts tab on the add-in pane

Note. Template shortcuts that have the same name are shown in red.
Template shortcuts with the same name

How to change a template shortcut

  1. On the Shortcuts tab, right-click a template shortcut, and then select Edit Shortcut.
    The Edit Shortcut option
  2. Change the name of the shortcut. When you're done, select Save.
    The Edit shortcut dialog

How to remove a template shortcut

On the Shortcuts tab, right-click a template shortcut, and then select Remove Shortcut.
The Remove Shortcut option

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.

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.

Post a comment

Seen by everyone, do not publish license keys and sensitive personal info!

If you have any questions or issues with this add-in, please feel free to post your concerns in the comments area. As soon as we answer, a notification message will be sent to your e-mail. If you do not want to share your thoughts in public, please contact us at support@ablebits.com.