This post is less about the understanding of getting to inbox zero. Its about the process of optimizing Mac Outlook towards my needs after adapting the concept.

I had to switch from gmail to hosted exchange, including the use of Microsoft Outlook Mac 2011, and needed shortcuts to move Messages to specified Folders. If you are looking for an applescript to move contents from folder to another. Here you go.


For starters, i am trying to keep my inbox empty. This starts with sifting through the inbox few times a day and assigning the messages to different categories, represented by Folders. Here is a basic structure that you will probably change, adapt and extend to your needs. For every message i either delete it right away, or assign it to one of the following folders.


  • Archiv (Non actionable but important enough to keep)
  • Respond (I need to Respond later)
  • Delegate (Delegate to someone else)
  • Follow-up (Needs Action from my side, kind of todo items)

While its easy to get distracted, try to stick to the process of working through your complete inbox *before* you work on anything.

Move to Folder Shortcuts

Right away Outlook mac does not offer shortcuts to move selected messages to a specific Folder. You can build workarounds using a combination Outlook „categories“ and filters but i am covering the creation of Shortcuts using simple AppleScripts Workflows to move mails to a given folder.


– Create an AppleScript Automator Workflow for every target folder in the Scripts folder to add them to the outlook Menu bar.
– Setup Application Shortcuts using the OS X System Preferences, to trigger these Actions.
– Test and enjoy!

Move to Archiv.scpt

Copy the following File to your Scripts Folder. You should find it here:
„/Users/*yourUserName*/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Outlook Script Menu Items“.

You can also locate the folder within outlook by opening the scripts menu (icon next to the help menu). Clicking on „about this menu“ and then „Open Folder“. This will open the Scripts folder in your finder.

Script-MenuOpen Folder

To add a new action (& menu item), simply copy the following file to that directory:

If you double click it, it should open in the Apple Script Editor. You need to make one simple change, by editing the Folder name to whatever you’ve setup. Repeat the process for every Folder / Action you want to setup.

Apple Script for Outlook "Move to Folder"

Script to Move a Message to a specified folder

You can test any action directly from the AppleScript Editor. First select a message in your inbox (within outlook), second click on the „Run“ Button in the editor to see if it works. Fix spelling errors with your folder name if not.

You should end up with a few new menu items in the Scripts Menu of outlook. Next step will be to enable shortcuts for these Menu items.

Create Shortcuts.


Open System Preference -> Keyboard. Select Application Shortcuts in the list. Click on + to add a new shortcut. Now select Outlook instead of all Programs (if it does not show up in the list click „other“ at the very bottom and navigate to „Microsoft Office 2011“ -> Outlook.App.

Enter the Exact name of the menu item / Action you want to trigger (See Outlook Scripts menu to get the right spelling), and Select a shortcut you can remember. I used Ctrl+R for Respond etc.


Thats it!




6 Responses to Outlook Mac – Zero Inbox Workflow and Shortcuts

  1. Charles Houen sagt:

    I opened your script in AppleScript Editor, and the text shows all pinkish-red in colour; if I try to run it is says ‚Syntax error Expected end of line, found identifier‘ and the ‚messages‘ in ’set listMessages to current messages‘ is highlighted.

    I had the same error with other scripts. I run OS 10.9.1.

    I’d be grateful for any advice.

  2. John sagt:

    I saw a note in the script that this will not work for imap accounts. My personal email is a gmail account I’m accessing in outlook. Is there not a way to set up hot key for moving those? Sure wish outlook mac matched outlook for windows :)

  3. Great little script – could you help me with a tweak to it that would allow me to set a subfolder as a destination?

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