Shortcuts Day 3: Active Learning

By now, you’re able to perform complicated, multi-step actions all without taking your hands from the keyboard. You should have built up some muscular memory by now and no longer have to think about what you’re doing.

There’s a wide world of gains to be had through keyboard short cuts and you’ve set yourself up to fully explore that world. It’s time to take off the training wheels and begin truly being active in your journey as an Empowered User.

Analyze Your Workflow and Find New Shortcuts

As you go about your work, keep your mind open. Ask yourself, “Am I using a particular action a lot?” Maybe you’re duplicating slides a lot in PowerPoint or selecting the row you’re on in Excel all the time. Then you tell yourself, “Self, it’s time to see if there’s a keyboard shortcut for this thing I do all the time.”

Here are three ways you may go about finding a keyboard shortcut.

Method 1: Google It

Nine times out of ten, you’ll see the answer immediately if you just ask what you’re looking for.

Let’s imagine you want to move focus to your address bar in Safari (something I do all the time) without having to move your hand off the keyboard, move the cursor and click on the address bar.

So let’s try searching “safari keyboard shortcut to go to the address bar” and see what we get.

Results of shortcut google search

Well isn’t that nice? We’ve got our answer without even needing to open the webpage. Using ⌘ + L will get you take you to the address bar in Safari. It looks like there’s a lot of other great stuff in there. Why not take a look and see if you can learn something new?

Method 2: Explore the Menu

This may get you the answer a little bit slower depending on the app. Simply click on the menu and start looking for the thing you want. This is one of the best ways to stumble upon new and useful app commands that could save you time or open up features you never knew existed.

In this particular instance, you may have to revert to Googling it because the action is officially called “Open Location…”. which is a weird thing to call it in my opinion…

a

Open Location file menu action

Because of course “Open Location” would focus on the address bar.

Method 3: Help > Search

Every app has a menu search function. Take a look at your menu right now. It’s all the way on the right. The very first item will be a search box.

Keyboard Shortcut: Command + Shift + /

If you don’t know what you need, your best bet is to search for a word you’re pretty sure is part of the command.

Matches will display immediately. You can cycle through them with the arrow keys and even activate them with Return.

Example: Safari Sidebar

If you want to know how to summon the sidebar in Safari, you could use the Help Search and type “sidebar”.

Example: Titles in Scrivenings

I use Scrivener.app to draft everything for this blog. The “scrivening mode” let’s you choose multiple documents at once and display them as a single long document which is super useful for editing.

You can set titles to display at the beginning of each document, but I cannot for the life of me remember where the option is to turn it on! Luckily, I can just bring up the help search and type “scrivening” to find it.

Conclusion

No matter how you go about learning new shortcuts, just remember that Level 3 of your shortcutting journey is about establishing a desire and willingness to seek out new shortcuts.

Find it and make it your own. Absorb it into your repertoire and know that you are forever more capable thanks to your own curiosity.

Pro Tip: Start small. Everyone who’s ever tried to learn more shortcuts has a one point tried to learn and use 40 new keyboard short cuts at once and remembered exactly zero of them.

Tomorrow You Start Hacking

As you get better and better at finding and using shortcuts, you’ll inevitably butt up against a simple limitation: Not every action has a shortcut.

That’s not a problem.

You can create your own shortcut for any menu action you wish, and you’ll learn to do it like a boss tomorrow.

Until then, keep shortcutting.

<< Day 2: Switching Apps, Cycling Windows | Day 4: Custom Shortcuts >>