Shortcuts for efficiency

Back to April 2013 ITS Newsletter

By Nikki Reynolds

It is "that time of year" again: Spring! The time when the air warms (it will, really!) and the plant life long dormant begins to quicken. It is also that time, post Spring Break, when faculty and students begin scrambling to see how much they can cram into the few remaining weeks of the semester, and all the rest of us just try to keep up. So what better time for tips on working more efficiently on your computer? This month's tips and apps come courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education's ProfHacker blog. I've included links to the appropriate posts, in case you'd like to get more details on the shortcuts below.

Sending email without opening email


The rationale behind this one is simple: if you can't see it (your inbox that is) then it can't distract you. But sometimes you really do need to send someone an email if you are going to complete the project that is your current focus. How to do this, but not get drawn into responding to those important emails in your inbox? By creating a bookmark in your web browser for this link: 


If you have not logged into your HillConnect account in your browser, you will see a generic "Gmail" login screen. Enter your full email address somewhat like: username@hamilton.edu where username is really your Hamilton email ID, then enter your email password. You'll be rewarded with an email "compose" window, and can send off your message without getting sidetracked.

Taking advantage of keyboard shortcuts


Have you ever watched those hotrod computer jockeys who seem to do screensful of work in just a few deft keystrokes? Those are the few who have found the time and memory space to learn the special keyboard shortcuts that invoke all sorts of menu options in a split second. Don't have time for that? Well, there is help available. You can choose from applications that offer handy ready references or those that offer to teach you as you work. We offer the following for your consideration:

For Macintosh users:

A reference app (FREE, no less): CheatSheet Once installed, enable access for assistive devices in the Accessibility control panel. Then open or activate the app. After that, any time you press and hold the command key  for 2 seconds, and the full list of possible shortcuts for the current "focused" application will pop up.

A tutorial app ($2.50): Eve You need to start this application running in the background, but after that, if you use your mouse to do something that can be done with a hotkey, or command key, sequence, Eve will pop-up to let you know about the keyboard shortcut. 

For Windows 8 users:

You may not have Windows 8 on your office computer yet, but there is a good chance many of you have Windows 8 at home. Also, the odds are high that you will find Windows 8 in the labs and classrooms in the fall. One of the best aspects of this latest Microsoft operating system is that they actually make use of the "Windows" key nearly as effectively as Macs make use of the "Apple" or "Command" key. The catch, of course, is learning its uses.

A reference app (FREE, no less): Ultimate Windows 8 Shortcuts Once installed, you can popup the app from one of the tiles on the "modern" desktop. It will give you lots of hints of things you can do with the "Windows" key. 

A tutorial app ($29 annually): KeyRocket Currently this app only supports the Windows OS and Office. There's a free download you can try to see whether you think the app is worth the cost, before you buy.

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