As you may know (especially if you read this previous tip of mine), you can configure custom text replacements on the Mac. For example, if you type the phrase “let me know if you have any questions” often, you can use a shortcut like “lmk” to drop in that text without you having to type the whole thing. I’ve personally set up a ton of these shortcuts, as I need to send the same instructions over and over again to different people. This saves me a ton of time! And these shortcuts work all around the Mac: in Mail, in Pages, in Outlook…
…wait, actually they no longer work in Outlook. Thanks to a relatively recent update to Microsoft Office, the programs in that suite (like Outlook, Word, and Excel) no longer respect the shortcuts you’ve added in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text, which is kind of a bummer if you depend on those for emailing folks quickly.
The somewhat good news is that the Office apps themselves have their own text replacement database as part of the AutoCorrect feature. If you’ve already added text replacement shortcuts to macOS in System Preferences, you’ll need to re-enter them for Office, but since all of the Office apps share a unified text replacement database, you’ll only need to do it once. So let’s go over how to use text replacements in Office for Mac! We’re using Outlook for our example screenshots but the steps are the same in other Office apps like Word.
Text Replacement in Office for Mac
- Open Outlook or your Office for Mac application of choice. You’ll find the apps in your Dock by default, or you can check the Applications folder by selecting Finder and using the keyboard shortcut Shift-Command-A, or the menu bar option Go > Applications.
- When Outlook (or your Office app) launches, choose Outlook > Preferences from its menus at the top.
- From the Preferences window that appears, select AutoCorrect.
- In the AutoCorrect window, click the plus icon in the lower-left corner to add a new item. Then type in both the shortcut you’d like to use (like “lmk”) and the text you want to replace that shortcut (like “Let me know if you have any questions!”).
- Once you’re done adding your text replacement shortcuts, close the AutoCorrect window and test out your AutoCorrect shortcuts by typing one of them in an email or document. After typing the shortcut and pressing the spacebar, your replacement text should be automatically displayed.
As I noted, this change will then propagate to the other Office programs, so once you’ve configured text replacement in Outlook, it’ll work in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I mean, I don’t know why I’d ever need to autofill “Let me know if you have any questions” into a PowerPoint presentation. But at least I have the option to do so!
Finally, remember that once you set an AutoCorrect text replacement shortcut, your Office apps will automatically replace those characters with your designated phrase in almost any context. Therefore, be careful when creating these shortcuts so that you don’t use a common set of letters (such as FYI, LLC, etc.) unless, of course, you actually want those abbreviations expanded or replaced.