Friday, June 29, 2012

Efficiency though Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the things I learned from the discussion of my recent Lisp posting was the value of delegating work to a good editor and the possible speed gain of good keyboard shortcuts. While I did not agree that the best path to these goals was necessarily through Emacs, I did decide to try to use my keyboard a bit more efficiently than I have been.

First, I reviewed the various keybindings already used by my OS, Windows 7. Hey, that Windows Logo key actually does have a few valuable uses! I also realized that I never use my function keys very much.

I also installed AutoHotKey and tried a few simple useful bindings, including:

  • Capslock is now Ctrl. (Shift+Capslock acts as normal Capslock)
  • Right Alt and Right Ctrl are now equal to Shift+Alt and Shift+Ctrl.
  • Win+q quits a program (like Alt+F4) and Win+c opens a command prompt.
  • The right-click menu button (AppsKey) is now a special function key. For example, I use it with various letters as shortcuts to certain directories when I'm in Windows Explorer.

I'm still working on actually using some of these on a regular basis, though. (Old habits die hard.) I'm also trying to use my alt keys with my thumbs without taking my fingers off the home keys, and using tab (replaced appropriately with spaces) more often when coding.

Anyway, it's all rather nerdy, but the possibilities are exciting. If you work on Windows, check out AutoHotKey. You may want to customize your system across all your different applications--especially if you start thinking about all the hundreds of possible key combos currently going unused on your keyboard!

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