One of the benefits of being a geek is knowing which keyboard shortcuts I can press in my favourite apps to get work done more efficiently than the average “muggles” who use computers. Whether you full under the category of a geek or a muggle, there are some great tools you can use to become more efficient. Let’s have a look at what’s available.
The website shortcutFoo is what initially inspired me to write this post. It’s a site with a very specific purpose — it’s the place where keyboard shortcut drills are. ShortcutFoo will shoot scenarios at you and you’ll have to figure out which keyboard shortcut is the one to use and press it. Simple, yet effective.
ShortcutFoo was created by a programmer for programmers in an attempt to make learning your editor fun, easy, and effective. Akin to the days of first learning how to type on a keyboard, shortcutFoo aims to help programmers accomplish more in less time and with fewer keystrokes.
During my time using shortcutFoo, I felt impressed at how many keyboard shortcuts I’d already learnt without realising it. Each time the site asked me to enter the shortcut for a popular Photoshop command and I knew what to do, shortcutFoo gave me increased confidence in my abilities. ShortcutFoo is a great place to brush and fine-tune your keyboard abilities, but where can you discover them to start with?
CheatSheet for Mac
Whilst shortcutFoo is great for realising just how many shortcuts and time savers you’ve learnt without noticing, CheatSheet for Mac is the app which lets you learn by doing. Ben Brooks believes this app is “pretty clever” and will help him our when using a new app for the first time. I’ve found that to be the case, as well as learning some great time savers from an app I use every day.
The premise of CheatSheet is extremely simple: keep the app running, and hold the Command key to activate. Once activated, so long as Command is held down, a gorgeous overlay will show up, showing you all the useful keyboard commands for the app you’re currently in. If you press another key whilst command is held down, CheatSheet disappears and the keyboard shortcut is activated. Simply release Command and the overlay will hide.
I launched the CheatSheet overlay whilst writing this article in Safari — I’ve just discovered with a cursory glance that Command+D is the shortcut to add a new bookmark. This is truly useful stuff, yet available for free in the Mac App Store.
Don’t be a slave to tools
I find it difficult to take productivity advice from most people. Merlin Mann is one of the few exceptions to this rule. A philosophy which Merlin has enforced is not being a slave to your tools. Just like the excessive amount of to-do apps on the iOS App Stores — and the consequential purchasing of them all by folks who should just be working — it can be easy to get dragged into reading a post like this very one, thinking your productivity will suddenly skyrocket because you’ve read some words and seen a new service or app.
That isn’t the case.
Remember that shortcutFoo and CheatSheet are just tools to help you get stuff done. My favourite feature of a tool is how it disappears when you don’t need to see it. CheatSheet does exactly that. ShortcutFoo doesn’t need to be constantly open, either. Use these tools and let us know in the comments if your work has increased because of them — share any other great keyboard shortcut tips you might have there, too!