Prepping For Mouse Freedom

Rob Conery | Opinion

I'm working on my keyboard-fu a little bit more today, making sure I know my shortcuts and how to get around. A lot of "oh... yeah!" and "oh wow!" as I'm discovering ways to turn my mouse off. You'll know some of these... some you won't. Either way I thought I'd share what I'm putting together.

Know Your System Commands

You're going to need a launcher. If you're on a Mac that would be Quicksilver or Alfred. I really like Alfred - it's fast and readable. Google also has a launcher but it's sort of annoying. I've keyed Alfred to pop up when I hit Command twice (my thumb).

On windows you'll want to, at the very least, get to know the Windows key. It's the thing with the Windows logo on your keyboard - hit it and your start menu pops with the cursor in the search box. From here you can find documents and apps - it's really quite good.

Every system has "system-preferred" commands that every app usually adopts. Things like Ctrl-C/V for cut and paste. Others are (if you're on a Mac replace with Command):*Ctrl-Z for Undo - Shift Ctrl-Z for redo

*Alt brings up the menu (on Windows)

*Ctrl-T for open new tab

*Ctrl-Q for quitting an app.

*Alt-Tab for switching between windows, Command-Tab for same on a MacThere are more, to be sure, and if you're on Windows

Jeff Atwood has a great writeup here. Many of those commands transcend the browser. So spend some time with them today.

Know Your Tricks

Probably best to pick a single browser and stick with it for the day. I'm using Chrome and there's a great add-on that many commenters talked about yesterday:

gleeBox. Firefox has

a great addon as well.

Knowing your browser's key commands is paramount to not imploding altogether. They're right up there in the menu - and they will show you the key command right next to it. The big one's (if you're on a Mac)*Cmd-T opens a Tab, Cmd-W closes a tab

*Cmd-L pops your cursor in the address bar. You can search from here or open old URLs

*Shift-Cmd-T opens things in a new window

*If you have gleeBox installed, TAB will move your cursor around to each link. You can also use search syntax to find what you need, a la Vim.Gmail has a full set of keyboard shortcuts. This is one of the major happy-happy surprises I've found - they're wonderful and simple.

Have a look at the list. You will probably need to go into your settings and enable the keyboard shortcuts if you haven't - it's in the very first tab.

Writing Code

This is, hopefully, where the big payoff is going to come. Prep yourself today (and tonight) by getting to know your keyboard shortcuts. Visual Studio 2010 has a whole new set of them - as well as some great nav tools for finding what you need.

Here's a great list to get you started. ScottGu also has a

nice looking set of posters on his blog.

From experience I can tell you that Ctrl-period is a life-saver. If you don't use this on a regular basis, consider it paramount that you use it a lot. It's an amazing time-saver and can single-handedly make up for all the time Visual Studio takes to start and load.

Another nice addition is "Navigate To" - with the wrist-pretzeling "Ctrl+," - it will pop a box that you can do some great fuzzy searches with. If you use TextMate, this is your Command-T. You can probably remap the key if you need to.

If you're a ReSharper user - this is your chance to get a lot more cuddly with it. If you're a ninja already... well move along...

If you're a Rails person, consider this a chance to try out Vim. There are many things to say about Vim - but it was built without a mouse in mind. Investing a little time in it will yield results immediately - but I won't lie. It's hard to get used to. If you're a visual person it will be almost impossible.

Hopefully, however, rails.vim will be addicting (as it was for me) - using ":Rcontroller" to quickly move to a controller, or ":Rmodel" and ":Rview". "gf" is a mind-blower, and the Speccy plugin make Vim one of the most powerful code editors I've ever seen.

TextMate is really easy to use with keyboard commands - you likely already know many of them.

Consoles and Terminals

If you're on a Mac, this is where things can be tremendously simple for you. Need to copy a file? Pop the terminal and send the command "cp file1 /place/file3". Moving, deleting - all of this is so much easier through the terminal. And if one thing makes using the terminal easy - it's the abysmal Finder... I loathe thee with the heat of ... well at least a sun or two.

Console2 on Windows is wonderful. You can do many of the same things you do with Unix using the Command Line. I'm sure this is where I'll lose many of you - just give it a shot.

Have your own shortcuts you like? Did I forget something? Lemme know about it!