Setting Up a Global Hotkey to Add Tasks to Outlook

One thing I missed since I moved from a Mac (using The Hit List for GTD) to Outlook (using Jello Dashboard for GTD) was the availability of a global hot key that I could use to bring up a text entry box which I could use to quickly add things into my electronic Inbox, for later processing.

I have found a way to achieve this, and here is the setup I am using now:

The first component is this PowerShell script written by Lee Holmes, which takes as arguments the title of the task to add, and adds it to Outlook. I saved it as Documents/Add-OutlookTask.ps1 in my home directory.

The second component is the ever-useful and amazing AutoHotkey. I added the following lines to my Documents/AutoHotKey.ahk file:

This snippet assigns Win-space to open an input box, and uses whatever is typed in it as the task title to the Add-OutlookTask script. The task will be placed without any categories in the task list, so it appears automatically the next time I open my Jello Dashboard inbox. Here it is in action:


I find this extremely useful, since I can press Win-space to add new tasks from any application, without having to switch to Outlook first. At some point I would like to explore the idea of making it smarter, like the quick-add keys in Things or THL for the Mac. This would include, for example, using some information from the currently-active application to prefill the task information. Examples would include using the subject line if an Outlook email is selected or the title of the current web page if a browser is open. Also nice would be to include any selected text automatically in the notes for the task, and maybe a link to the original item.