Does anyone using Outlook web ever use alt-left arrow & alt-right arrow to move a word at a time? What about the same with the shift key down to select a word at a time? Apparently not since shift-alt-right/left arrow is instead the shortcuts for indenting/un-indenting.

About 3 times per email I compose in Outlook web, by muscle memory I try to extend the selection word by word and end up indenting instead. I wonder, how do other people not fall into this, either they:

  • never the arrow keys for all navigation & selections, only use the mouse?
  • use the arrow keys for navigation, but never shift-arrow keys, rather only the mouse making & extending selections?
  • use the arrow keys for navigation & include the shift key for making selections, but just always character by character and never word by word?
  • do like I do and indent by accident all the time, just never complain

I'm guessing if shift-alt-arrows weren't co-opted as indenting shortcuts, that key combination would fall to text system which would use it for extending the selection.

Does anyone know how to disable shortcuts for indenting?

I'm using Safari on latest OSX (El Cap) if that matters (so yes, I had to struggle not to call it the "option key").


2 Answers 2


In diving through the settings again looking for "keyboard shortcuts" options mentioned by w3dk, I found in "options > settings > message format" the option "Compose message in this format: HTML / Plain text" which was set to what seemed to be the default, "HTML".

Changing it to "Plain text" removes many text formatting features including indent & un-indent and along with them, their keyboard shortcut that overrides the default behavior for shift-option-left/right arrow. I'm not terribly sad about losing those formatting features, so I'll call this win.


This is answered with respect to Outlook.com, not Outlook Web Access - sorry, my mistake!

This would seem to be a conflict on Mac OS X only.

On Windows, Ctrl+Left Arrow and Ctrl+Right Arrow are the standard keyboard shortcuts for moving forward/back one word (not Alt). And consequently hold together with Shift to make a selection. These work the same at Outlook.com, so there is no conflict with the indentation shortcuts.

Whilst you don't seem to be able to customise (or turn off) individual keyboard shortcuts, you can turn them all off or switch to an alternative mapping (Yahoo! Mail or Gmail) instead:

Cog menu > Options > Keyboard shortcuts

  • Turn off keyboard shortcuts
  • Outlook.com (default)
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Gmail

Gmail certainly doesn't use Alt for indentation. On Windows it is Ctrl + [ and ] for less and more indentation respectively.

  • I accepted this because it contained a good explanation for why this was not a more prevalent problem, and the solution sounded likely :^) but looking at my Outlook Web options page, there's no "options > keyboard shortcuts" area. I'm not sure if we're talking about different things. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 20:04
  • Sorry, yes you are right - I've answered with respect to Outlook.com, not Outlook Web! Ooops.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 0:27

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