Life Hack #293: Vimium

A colleague once remarked: “This guy! Lives in the browser.”

Guilty as charged. I spend a lot of time in the Chrome Developer Tools debugging scripts, looking at why resources aren’t loading fast, and getting pixel perfection for UI components. While I know all the shortcuts for the dev tools, one thing I felt lacking from my routine was a good way to utilize the keyboard more when I was not doing these sort of inspection actions.

OMG. I have to move my mouse.

There has to be a better way.

Some sites are nice in that they provide a list of all keybindings for keyboard shortcuts by pressing ‘?’ while not focused on an input element. Some sites go further, publicizing their keyboard-oriented interfaces where there is a lot of repetitive action that users may want to avoid. The best web applications I’ve seen utilize this are Gmail, JIRA, and Twitter. However, what to do for the rest of the web?

Enter Vimium. If you use Vim, you can imagine how this is going to work.

I can press ‘j’ and ‘k’ to move up and down, but the real magic comes in two keys — the first is ‘f’ — this displays a nice marker next to the link I want to click. I then type those two letters to open the page.

Here, I’ve used search and visual mode. I’m interested in searching “Tropical Storm Allison”, but I’m too lazy to Ctrl+Tab Tropical Storm Allison<Enter>. What to do?

/Tro<esc> v w w y P

(I started a search, switched to visual mode, highlighted two words, then yanked the text and pasted it into a new tab)

Magic. Saved myself 12 keystrokes. I’ve already saved myself in aggregate — hours with Vimium by using these few functions. I hope you do too.

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