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TIP: To add accelerator keys to Outlook form controls

Professional-looking Windows dialogs have "accelerators" -- underlined letters that indicate you can go to a particular control by pressing Alt + that letter. You can add accelerators to your Outlook forms, too.

Controls with captions | Other controls | Notes | More Information

Controls with captions

These Outlook form controls include a Caption property:
  • Label
  • Check box
  • Command button
  • Option button
  • Toggle button

To set the accelerator for these controls:

  1. Right-click the control, and choose Advanced Properties.
  2. From the Properties list, select Accelerator.
  3. Type the accelerator letter you want to use in the box next to the Apply button. The letter must appear in the control's caption and is case-sensitive.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. Select another control, and repeat steps 2-4. You do not have to close the Properties list first.

You can also use the regular Properties dialog and set the accelerator by entering an ampersand & character in front of the character in the Caption that you want to use as an accelerator. I personally prefer the method above, because (a) it makes it easier to determine whether you can set an accelerator for the control at all and (b) you don't have to close the dialog first to work on another control.

If you click the Accelerator set for a label control, the focus goes to the next control in the tab order, since the label itself cannot receive the focus. (See next section.)

It is possible to set an accelerator for the individual pages of a tab strip or multi-page control. (Right-click on the control page, then choose Rename.) However, these accelerators do not seem to work in Outlook.

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Other controls

These Outlook form user input controls do not have a Caption or Accelerator property, but can use a related label control's accelerator to get the focus:
  • Text box
  • Combo box
  • List box
  • Spin button

Follow these steps:

  1. For each control, create a matching label control, and set the label's Accelerator property, as described in the previous section.
  2. Set the label's TabStop property to True.
  3. Change the label control's Name so that it matches the name of the control that you want to associate it with. For example, if the text box is named txtDepartment, call the label control lblDepartment. (This does not create any actual association between the two controls, but makes it much easier to perform step 5.)
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the other controls on the form.
  5. Choose Layout | Tab Order, and adjust the tab order so that each label you created in step 1 appears in the order immediately before the text, combo box or other control.
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The first control listed in the tab order will receive the focus when the user switches to that page.

The accelerators work with the Alt key. You cannot change this behavior to trigger then with some other key combination.

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