Stepping Away from Keyboard Shortcuts for the Day

Shortcuts make life so much easier. Try not using them for a day and you’ll see what I mean.

Whoever said you don’t get anywhere in life taking shortcuts obviously never worked at a computer. Shortcuts, particularly keyboard shortcuts, are a way of life for computer users. A keyboard shortcut is defined as a combination of two or more keys that you can use to perform a task that would typically require a mouse or other pointing device. It’s a tool that is meant to save you precious time while you are working away at your workstation.

Not too long ago, I decided to spend a single work day not using any sort of keyboard shortcuts to see how much time I really saved by using them. This idea came about one day after I watched someone ‘hunt and peck’ at a keyboard. It was painful. I watched in horror as they slowly typed my order into their computer and remembered a time I used to repair computers at customers houses. They would want to show something to me and they would select a file, then go to the Finder menu or right-click to choose the copy option. Then, they would move to another application and do the same painful process to paste. After shivering at the past memory, I decided it would be an interesting experiment to see how much longer I would have to work in a day if I used no keyboard shortcuts or text expansions.

For the purposes of this post, I will specifically calling out shortcuts on an Apple computer. Within the Apple OS ecosystem, there are built-in keyboard shortcuts and apps in the App Store — both for Mac and iOS — that allow users to expand text. Text Expander is one example. I use the default in OS X and iOS to quickly enter blocks of text. You can find it under System Preferences > Keyboard > Text.

Basically you enter a few letters — like ‘omw’ — then, the phrase you wish to use — ‘on my way.’ When the shortcut you type is entered, the phrase will expand thus making long blocks of text much quicker to type out. I use these a lot when texting and even for some emails. By ‘taking the day off’ from shortcuts, I found myself typing a lot more letters during my experiment.

The next thing that I really took notice of was the most common keyboard shortcuts — copy, cut, and paste. On an Apple computer, these shortcuts are completed by pressing command + C, command + X, or command + V. The alternative is, of course, using the mouse and opening the Edit menu on any given application. During my shortcut fast, I could no long use the shortcut keys for copy, cut, or paste. I also found myself missing the shortcut for adding a link (command + K) in Mail and opening a new location (command + L) in Safari.

In just a few short hours, I could already feel the tension beginning. By the time lunch rolled around, I was no where near a stopping point in my work. This was a problem and if I worked for anyone besides myself and I’m sure I would be reprimanded for wasting so much time.

When I first had this bright idea, I thought doing this for a week would be an awesome test. It only took me a few minutes into my work day to realize that it was a sad mistake. By the time I was ready to take a lunch on the first day of the experiment, I was ready to pull my hair out. I never knew just how keyboard shortcuts made my life easier.

Want to learn more about Keyboard shortcuts checkout this Mac App and remember lots of shortcuts can be found by viewing the menu bar because they are listed next to each of the actions provided under drop downs.


Originally published at macsources.com on March 3, 2016.

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