So everyone in your block tells you that hotkeys are all the rage when it comes to real productivity, since your fingers are already on the keyboard… but then, if you are very uncomfortable pressing alt-command-X and then remembering the difference from alt-command-Y or alt-shift-X or…. Quite obviously, the idea of shortcutting certain tasks that […]
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Productivity Tools I Can't Live Without: KeyCue and Menu Master

So everyone in your block tells you that hotkeys are all the rage when it comes to real productivity, since your fingers are already on the keyboard… but then, if you are very uncomfortable pressing alt-command-X and then remembering the difference from alt-command-Y or alt-shift-X or….

Quite obviously, the idea of shortcutting certain tasks that are usually hidden in menus is a brilliant idea, but I guess no one would ever call this intuitive or easy to adapt to. Another problem: in a perfect world you have one hotkey for a certain task – and this is true for all other apps. So, no perfect world yet. Until you install the two software gems I am presenting here, that is.

Menu Master for Mac OS X1. Assigning custom shortcuts the Mac way: The first solution coming in mind is that you can define your individual shortcuts in the most intuitive way possible – and the app to this feature goes by the name Menu Master. Let me give you some examples how to use it:

– imagine your software has a fullscreen option (like a DVD player or a word processor, i.e. Word 2004) but no (or a weird) shortcut assigned to it. With Menu Master installed this is as easy as you could think: highlight the field in the menu you want to assign the shortcut for with your mouse and press the shortcut you define “fullscreen” in other apps – that’s it, the shortcut will work now in this app as well!

– Another example maybe most of you know: with command-delete you usually delete things in the finder, but for instance iCal has no preassigned shortcut for deleting entries. In my opinion deleting something should always be performed by the same shortcut, so highlight, pressing command-delete and that’s it… of course in iCal entries you can delete by simply pressing delete, but tell me how often did You try command-delete just because You’re used to it? I stopped counting šŸ™‚

For more info on Menu Master (you can buy it for $10) click here.

2. What was that shortcut again? The second solution helps you stay on track with your shortcuts – is called KeyCue: this is how it looks like when it is switched on by the shortcut (default is pressing command for a while). This screen shows you, depending on the app you are using the shortcuts available – if you start pressing the shift or option key now the highlighting would change to the shortcuts in the list activated by command-option or command-shift, respectively. By finally pressing the activating key the window would disappear, having fulfilled its duty. What I am using many words for turns into seconds of your workflow assuring you to do precisely what you wanted to do.

Just let me finally comment on the congeniality of letting this window appear when you press the command key for a longer time: this actually should be the moment when you hark your brain for that darn shortcut to do this and that elegantly and fast. By displaying the reminder just moments after you started wondering, waiting might still be faster than fumbling with the trackpad, finding your cursor, pulling down the menu etc, etc…

To purchase or download a free trial of KeyCue, click here.

KeyCue for Mac OS X

In installing the two aforementioned apps you should be able to adapt your intuitive idea of a shortcut into reality while, if your intuition changes, or you bluntly forget, there’s the time-saving reminder. One last comment: these apps are not freeware, I know, but as far as I overlook it, there is no cheaper alternative either and once having integrated these you’ll soon find them as indispensable and worth the money!

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