In Reader to Reader: "Outlook New Mail Message Shortcut" (September 15, 2001, InstantDoc ID 21941), Erasmo J. Medina offered a tip for creating an email shortcut by using a batch file to start Microsoft Outlook. I have a better method that doesn't require extra files. Create a new shortcut, and in the command-line field, enter

mailto:

Give the shortcut a useful name such as New Email, and put the shortcut wherever you want.

My method has several advantages. It doesn't require Outlook—Windows will use your default email program. You can add predefined addresses (e.g.,mailto:billg@microsoft.com;steveb@microsoft.com) to personalize the link. In addition, you can add subject lines (e.g., mailto:billg@microsoft.com?subject=Thanks for dinner last night) if you have standard email messages to send. You can also add people to the Cc list. Finally, you can add a hot key to the shortcut's properties for opening a new email message (my hot key is Ctrl+Alt+M).

—Steve Hiner
stevehiner@netscape.net