Type down searching in Outlook Web Access


Sometimes in using your own software you take advantage of features that other people have no idea are even in there.  This morning I was talking to some people who didn’t know about our type down searching in the main viewer of OWA.  Although they use it in Outlook, it doesn’t register that they can do the same thing in a web app.


Here is the scenario: 
In OWA, you know you have a piece of mail in a folder from “Tosh Meston”, but there’s a thousand messages in there so paging is not really useful.  Most people would just bring up the Search dialog from the toolbar.  But, another possibility is to click on the From column header to sort by From, then start typing T-O-S-H.  After a pause, the viewer will seek out and position the list at the first message from Tosh.  It works for subjects too.


This also makes me wonder if people are using our handy custom context menus.  Maybe people do not think to right-click on web apps, except to do things in the default IE context menu.  Web devs, what’s your opinion?  OWA users, what’s your experience?

Comments (5)

  1. I discovered the context menus somehow and use them all the time, but I didn’t know that I could find stuff by typing – that’ll definitely come in handy! Thanks for the tip.

  2. BigJimInDC says:

    Sort of follows the whole rule of "make it obvious for the inexperienced/novice user to accomplish tasks, but also add in functionality that allows the more comfortable and advanced user to perform the same task in a more efficient manner". The problem seems more to be in the documenting the "advanced" features so that your power user base can find out about those features…

  3. Sig Weber says:

    I’m more the IT geek (hence I wrote a context menu extension recently to display the message source in OWA) but I love the right-click context menu and also the hotkeys.

    I wish there would be better documentation as BigJimInDC mentions. For example all the nice hotkeys you can use. So far, I’ve discovered now:

    Ctrl+N — New item (sensitive to the selected folder type, except public Task folders and Journal/Sticky Note folders)

    Ctrl+R — Reply

    Ctrl+Shift+R — Reply All

    Ctrl+Shift+F — Forward

    Ctrl+U — Mark selected item(s) unread

    Ctrl+Q — Mark selected item(s) read

    Ctrl+D — Soft delete selected item(s)

    Del — Soft delete selected item(s)

    Shift+Del — Hard delete selected item(s)

    Ctrl+End — Go to last in list

    End — Go to last in list

    Ctrl+Home — Go to first item in list

    Home — Go to first item in list

    Esc — Close Mail/Post/Task/Contact/Journal/StickyNote item

    Ctrl+> — Next item (mail and post item only)

    Ctrl+< — Previous item (Mail and Post item only)

    Ctrl+K/Alt+K — Check names (compose mail item only)

    Alt+S — Send message (compose mail item only)

    And did you know this neat trick to select more than one day in your OWA 2000/2003 calendar? Just hold down the Ctrl and click on the day in the date picker. You can select up to 7 IIRC.

  4. I use OWA a lot (like right now, working from home today) and I often have to remind myself to use these features you mention. For some reason, it does seem un-natural still to expect these controls in a web app. I often try to do things like drag&drop email items into my task folder which causes problems. So something inside my brain says "this isn’t a Rich Client – don’t try to be clever" and that brain program over-rides my natural inclination to use rich client features.