How to Create or Reassign Keyboard Shortcuts in Microsoft Office

Make commonly used tasks easier with custom hotkeys

If you spend a lot of time in Microsoft Office or Microsoft 365, you can save time by customizing your own keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts are just one way to streamline how you work, but they can make a big difference, especially for tasks you use often. 

Shortcut assignments might vary depending on the operating system you're on and the software version you have installed.

How to Customize Keyboard Shortcuts

Before looking at how to actually change a keyboard shortcut, let's open the appropriate window:

  1. Open a Microsoft program, such as Word.

  2. Navigate to File > Options to open that program's options window, such as Word Options in MS Word.

  3. Open the Customize Ribbon option from the left.

  4. Choose the Customize... button on the bottom of that screen, next to Keyboard shortcuts:.

Creating 'Hotkeys'

The Customize Keyboard window is how you can control the hotkeys used in Microsoft Word (or whatever other program you've opened). Choose an option from the Categories: section and then pick an action for the hotkey in the Commands: area.

For example, maybe you want to change the shortcut key used to open a new document in Microsoft Word. Here's how:

  1. Choose File Tab from the Categories: section.

  2. Select FileOpen from the right pane, in the Commands: section.

    One of the default shortcut keys (Ctrl+F12) is shown here in the Current key: box, but next to it, in the Press new shortcut key: text box, is where you can define a new hotkey for this particular command.

  3. Select that text box and then enter the shortcut you want to use. Instead of typing letters like Ctrl, just strike that key on your keyboard. In other words, hit the shortcut keys as if you were actually using them, and the program will auto-detect them and enter the appropriate text.

    For example, hit the Ctrl+Alt+Shift+O keys if you want to use that new shortcut to open documents in Word.

  4. You'll see a Currently assigned to: sentence show up under the Current keys: area after hitting the keys. If it says [unassigned], then you're good to move on to the next step.

    Otherwise, the shortcut key you entered is already assigned to a different command, which means that if you assign that same hotkey to this new command, the original command will no longer work with this shortcut. 

  5. Choose Assign to make the new keyboard shortcut apply to the command you selected.

  6. You can now close any open windows relating to the settings and options.

Additional Tips

  • You can remove custom and built-in keyboard shortcuts by returning to Step 4 in the first set of instructions above. In that Customize Keyboard window, just select a hotkey from the Current keys: box, and use the Remove button to delete it.
  • Setting too many custom keyboard shortcuts can get confusing. Create them sparingly for those functions that do not already have a shortcut assigned to them. Reserve this method of reassigning or creating keyboard shortcuts for tasks that you use often.
  • The quickest way to restore all the original shortcut keys is to return to the Customize Keyboard screen mentioned above. Use the Reset All... button to reset all the hotkeys to their default, original settings.
  • To view the program's default keyboard shortcuts in one simple place, select Help in the upper-right corner, and then select it again if you're using the Ribbon menu. Search for Shortcuts and find the program you're interested in, like Word, to see Microsoft's list of keyboard shortcuts.
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