Maximize Keyboard

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					Maximize Keyboard, Minimize Mouse (And Some
Keyboard Shortcuts)
One of the most useful productivity enhancements I've implemented in
the last year has been a shift to use the keyboard as much as
possible, and the mouse as little as possible. You might think,
"Really? How does that provide a significant productivity
enhancement?" Well, how long do you think you spend moving your
right/left hand from the keyboard to the mouse each time you switch
between them? Maybe a second? That's not very long, what's the big
deal? It's only a big deal because you do it so many times. If you do
that switch on average about once per minute for an eight-hour work
day, that is 60 * 8 = 480 seconds = 8 minutes wasted just going back
and forth. That is 40 minutes each week, and 40 * 48 weeks = 1920
minutes = 32 hours each year! I know this sounds kind of ridiculous
initially, but if you make a concerted effort to use the keyboard more,
you will immediately start to notice how much faster you can do things
on the computer, even over the period of just a few minutes.

It is definitely true that you can get really quick with a mouse, but you
will never match the speed of someone who knows what they are
doing with a keyboard. With a keyboard, a whole universe of shortcuts
are available to you, and in many programs you can create your own.
This includes all Microsoft Office programs, which most people use at
least a small amount each day. I have included some of my favorites
below, with an emphasis on those that I had to do some research to
figure out.

One aspect of using only the keyboard that bugged me for a while
was not having the ability to scroll through a Microsoft Word document
without also moving the cursor. This is an action you would normally
do with the middle scroll button on a mouse, or by clicking the up and
down arrows on the far right side of the window. But I found a
Microsoft macro that you can implement to do the same thing, which
happens to be a feature that most other modern text editors like
Notepad++ have. A macro is a bit of code that allows the user to
specify automated behavior. In Word 2010 and 2007, you can access
and add your Macros in the "Developer" Tab, in the "Code" section,
with the "Macros" button. That will bring up a menu, and you can
specify the name of a new macro or edit a macro you already have.
When you specify the name of a new macro and create it, it will bring
up a Visual studio type interface where you can type the macro into
the macro function (between the Sub commands). For the scroll up
command, use this macro:

Sub ScrollUp()
ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.SmallScroll Up:=1
End Sub

For the scroll down command, use this macro:

Sub ScrollDown()
ActiveDocument.ActiveWindow.SmallScroll Down:=1
End Sub

You can then assign these macros keyboard shortcuts, so that you
can scroll with your keyboard instead of your mouse! In Word 2010
and 2007, you access the keyboard shortcuts by selecting "File" at the
top, "Options," "Customize Ribbon," then the "Customize" button at
the bottom left next to the "Keyboard Shortcuts". When a new window
pops up, find the "Macros" category at the bottom of the "Categories"
listing. Then select the ScrollDown macro, and assign it the shortcut
of Ctrl-Down. Then select the ScrollUp macro, and assign it the
shortcut of Ctrl-Up. I set these macros to have keyboard shortcuts of
Ctrl-Up and Ctrl-Down because that is what most other modern text
editors use for this feature by default, and it just works well. Now
you're done! Just click close or OK until you're back to your document,
and try your new shortcuts! If you need more detailed directions,
see this website, which is where I found these macros.

I also found a macro for Microsoft Word that allows you to paste text
into Word documents without any formatting, which I assigned the
keyboard shortcut of Ctrl-D using the same method (I never used the
shortcut that Ctrl-D was previously assigned to):

Sub NoFormatPaste()
Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
End Sub
This is a very convenient shortcut that allows you to easily paste text
from different programs into Word without worrying about crazy
formatting messing things up, and allows you to bypass the long route
going through "Paste Special" in Word. If you need more detailed
directions, try this site.

Another important shortcut that you may already know about but don't
use is the Menu button close to the lower right corner of your
keyboard (though this is only applicable to Windows machines). This
has the same functionality as the right-click button. However, this
button has the advantage of being on the keyboard instead of way
over there on the mouse! If you don't have this button on your
keyboard, Shift-F10 has the same functionality most of the time.

Some other cool keyboard shortcuts:

    Ctrl-PageUp and Ctrl-PageDown to switch between tabs in
     browsers like Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome. This is one
     of my biggest time savers because I find the tabs I'm looking for
     so much faster.
  Ctrl-W to quickly close tabs.
  Ctrl-Shift-T to re-open a tab exactly as it was after you closed it in
     Chrome. This is REALLY handy in Chrome, which does not make
     it easy to re-open previously closed tabs with the mouse. And
     when you think about it, it makes intuitive sense: Ctrl-T opens a
     new blank tab, so it makes sense that hitting SHIFT (which often
     makes other keyboard actions move backwards rather than
     forwards) brings up a window that was previously closed. You will
     often find that as you learn more shortcuts, they will feel
     increasingly intuitive, especially in the better made programs.
  Shift-Space to select a whole row in excel. After selecting the row,
     you can easily hit the menu button to insert or delete rows.
  Alt-space, and then M to move, N to minimize, X to maximize, S to
     size, and R to restore a window using only the keyboard.
  Spacebar to pause and un-pause (i.e. play) songs in Pandora.
  Ctrl-Plus (the plus on the numeric keypad on the far right side) to
     resize all columns in windows explorer to the perfect width.
I also highly recommend turning on and using keyboard shortcuts in
Gmail. I resisted doing this for a long time because I was under the
mistaken impression that activating them would lead to a lot of
mistakes as I tried to compose emails. Now I can crank through my
Gmail in far less time than it used to take me. It's easy to get started
on this: just activate them in your Gmail settings, and then to look up
what the shortcuts are, hit Shift-?. Unfortunately Google calendar is
sorely lacking in keyboard shortcuts at this point in time.

Once you start learning all these keyboard shortcuts, you become
more and more eager to learn new ones. It is very easy to find listings
of shortcuts online for almost any program. I also like to save all the
best keyboard shortcuts I find into a document like a Google Docs
document. And if you want a particular keyboard shortcut, just try a
search and the odds are good you will find someone who has come
up with a solution.

I strongly recommend getting a high quality keyboard as well. You can
get keyboards relatively cheaply these days, and you can get external
keyboards that have soft keys like most laptops have. This makes it
even more pleasant to use your keyboard, to the point where it can
feel really good just tapping the keys. I also like gel wristpads, but
that's just a nice perk.

Another strong advantage of knowing how to do everything with the
keyboard is that using laptops becomes much more pleasant. You
can get pretty good at using the track-pads on laptops, but they are
still pretty inefficient.

Overall, it is going to take you some time to learn keyboard shortcuts,
but the time savings in the long run far outweighs this small initial
investment.

				
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posted:7/4/2012
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