Setting up custom keyboard shortcuts in OS X

Keyboard shortcuts are useful options for quickly accessing specific program commands or system services, such holding the Command key and pressing C, X, or V, for copy, cut, and paste.

While common and useful commands are usually assigned a hot-key shortcut, you can also set up custom hot-key assignments in an application to give unassigned commands a hot key to invoke that command.

To do this, simply go to the "Shortcuts" tab in the Keyboard pane of System Preferences, and choose "App Shortcuts" in the categories list, where you can click the plus button to add … Read more

How to use hot keys to launch applications in OS X

If you need to quickly launch a program or two in OS X, you can use the Launchpad interface, or, perhaps more quickly, find it in Spotlight, or use a link in the Dock. However, a third option that might be particularly useful for some utilities is to bind them to a hot key shortcut.

For instance, common utilities you may access when troubleshooting problems in OS X include Activity Monitor, Disk Utility, Console, and perhaps Terminal. If you regularly access these or other programs, then you might wish to have them available at your fingertips, so binding each to … Read more

Review: Text Expander replaces repetitive or clumsy keystrokes with abbreviations

A handy, little utility, Text Expander for Mac lets you configure keyboard shortcuts that automatically expand into larger snippets of text as you type.

We installed the program without hassle, and when we ran it for the first time were presented with a basic tutorial, which got us working with the app quickly. Text Expander for Mac comes with several built-in "snippets," as they are called, for frequently typed bits of text, like e-mail and snail mail addresses, phone numbers, or the time and date. Snippets are highly configurable. We created a form letter that, when activated, launches … Read more

Quickly navigate OS X menu extras with arrow keys

Menu extras are the small utility menus at the top-right of your screen that give you quick access to some of the system preferences and other central options in OS X, such as options to select Wi-Fi networks, change system volume, and access Time Machine backups. Third-party developers may also include menu extras to give quick-access to their program's settings and features.

While you can access these menus by clicking them, at times this may be a touch cumbersome, especially if you are actively using the keyboard and not a mouse or trackpad.

For standard system menus (those to … Read more

Access menus via the keyboard in OS X

Even though contextual menus are largely useful when using a mouse or trackpad, sometimes they can be convenient to activate when navigating or managing your computer with the keyboard. For some operating systems like Microsoft Windows, you can press a contextual menu keyboard button to activate the system's contextual menu on a selection of items and copy them, send them via e-mail, or otherwise manipulate them.

Unfortunately, OS X does not support an option to activate the contextual menu without using the pointer. The menu in this operating system is linked directly to pointer's location, so even if … Read more

How to manage services in OS X

One of the relatively hidden but often invaluable features of OS X is its support for services, which is when one application can provide a function or capability to another, and accept some input such as text, files, or images, and perform a separate task with this data.

For instance, if you are in Safari and wish to send a selection of text to a friend in an e-mail, you can click and drag to highlight it, and then use a service to create a new e-mail that contains this text. Likewise, you can select text in Word, Pages, TextEdit, … Read more

Quicksilver for Mac 1.0.0 Review

Launching applications via keyboard shortcuts can increase your productivity. Quicksilver for Mac studies your habits and helps you achieve better control over your Mac. It functions very similarly to the Mac address/search bar, but with extra functions and even quicker launch options.

Quicksilver for Mac comes packed with its own installer, which makes the installation quick and easy. Once the free app has been installed, you can access it by pressing the Quicksilver hot key. To extend the functions of this app you can download some additional plug-ins available from the developer's Web site. There are default preset … Read more

The Top Essential Hotkeys for Windows 8

Whether you're new to Windows 8 or a seasoned veteran, it's always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Let's face it: without a touch screen, Windows 8 can get a tad tedious to use. Here are the most essential Windows 8 shortcuts for accessing and working with the Charms menu, and system-wide. You can thank us later.

Useful keys to access Charms in a touchless world

Windows Key + C: Opens Charms Bar Windows Key + I: Access the settings or control panel for active app Windows Key + Q: Search your applications Windows Key + Z: Open … Read more

Learn keyboard shortcuts with KeyCue for Mac

Research has shown that frequent use of a computer mouse may contribute to repetitive motion injuries. KeyCue for Mac claims to teach users how to replace the mouse with keyboard shortcuts, but its limited functionality and its price make it less useful than it could have been.

A 30-day free trial version of KeyCue for Mac is available, but it costs $29.99 for the full version. The program downloads quickly but despite having its own installer, proved difficult to set up. We had to try the installation several times due to the program claiming it could not install while … Read more

How to create a hot key to switch users in OS X

OS X is a multiuser operating system so each user can tailor the system for his or her own needs without interfering with another user's workflow. With this setup, not only can multiple people use a system, but an individual can also configure it to have multiple work environments.

For example, if you use your computer for two jobs and would like to keep all work for one completely separate from another, then one option is to use multiple user accounts for this. Alternatively you might like to have a separate user account for testing purposes if you've … Read more