The story behind Microsoft Outlook's terrible CTRL + F shortcut

Wth? Ctrl + F doesn't search Outlook, it forwards an email message

In just about any program, you can hit Ctrl + F (arguably the best keyboard shortcut of them all) and easily search. Not so Microsoft Outlook: instead, Ctrl + F forwards rather than finds. The reason why is pretty amusing, maybe.

As posted on The Old New Thing MSDN blog:

Rewind to 1995.

The mail team was hard at work on their mail client, known as Exchange (code name Capone, in keeping with all the Chicago-related code names from that era). Back in those days, the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut did indeed call up the Find dialog, in accordance with convention.

And then a bug report came in from a beta tester who wanted Ctrl+F to forward rather than find, because he had become accustomed to that keyboard shortcut from the email program he used before Exchange.

That beta tester was Bill Gates.


Great, thanks Bill. Now Outlook users get tripped up when they're used to the shortcut performing a search. 

I tried to find a way to remap the keyboard shortcut in Outlook, but without luck. Instead, to do a search in Outlook, you'll have to hit F4 to search for text within a message or other item or Ctrl + E to find a message. Just don't accidentally forward messages with Ctrl + F when you mean to search instead!

Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

This story, "The story behind Microsoft Outlook's terrible CTRL + F shortcut" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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