Super-Fast Way to Compose a New Email

Did you know that if you type mailto: in your browser’s address bar and press enter, your default email program will give you a compose screen? [Thanks to a LifeHacker reader for this tip!]

Want to do it even faster?

With your browser screen open, CTRL-L will take your cursor to the address line, and highlight it. Just type mailto: and press enter.

Even faster?

Using (see this blog post), create a new Shortmark with ‘m’ (or whatever you’ll remember as the keyword. For the direct link, type ‘mailto:’. Then save.

Now, just typing m in the address bar and pressing enter is enough to launch a new compose message.

Or if you use a text expander like PhraseExpress (for Windows – see this blog post; Mac users try TextExpander or TypeIt4Me), you can create a keyboard shortcut. You could, for example, make ‘m’ be the hotkey for ‘mailto:’.


CTRL-L highlights the URL in my browser’s address bar. I type m, then hit enter, and Outlook (my default email client) opens a new compose message.

When the blank message opens, the cursor will be in the To: line. I’ll TAB to navigate from field to field. When I’m ready to send, in Outlook, CTRL-ENTER will do it. In Gmail, if I’m writing the body of the message, tabbing one more time takes me to the send button, then I hit enter to send.

Autofill ‘To:’ field

If you know the person’s email address, you can enter it directly in your browser’s address bar this way to automatically put the address in the email’s ‘To:’ field.

Or create a Shortmark for that person specifically. In this case, typing ms would open a new compose message with automatically entered in the ‘To:’ line.

Or create a keyboard shortcut using a text expander program.

Want to add more people? Separate multiple email addresses using whatever punctuation your email program uses. Outlook uses semicolons. I created a Shortmark with mpsych as the keyword, and the direct link box included everyone’s email address separated by semicolons. Now I just need to type mpsych in my browser’s address bar to start an email message to everyone in my department. How slick is that?

Autofill ‘Subject:’ field

Want to enter the subject line from your browser’s address bar?

mailto:?subject=Your Subject Line Content Here

If you use it frequently, you can create a Shortmark for it or a text expander keyboard shortcut.

Try it out

Practice using CTRL-L to highlight the URL in the address bar, typing mailto:, and pressing enter to create a new email message. If you’re really liking it, consider using Shortmarks or a text expander program to make you even more efficient.

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