Today, I don’t use that mouse anymore. I live by the keyboard and I find myself much more efficient with it. Here are some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.When I switched to MacBook Pro laptop from a Windows desktop earlier this year, I bought a wireless mouse. The MacBook Pro trackpad is nice but using it is like playing a bad version of Whac-A-Mole: move mouse, aim at tiny area, hit target. The mouse on the other hand, allowed for better control and accuracy; however it was cumbersome to carry around and didn’t allow all the trackpad gestures.
1. Learn OSX keyboard shortcuts (the easy way)
1.1. Hot Key Eve
Eve is a free OSX app that teaches you keyboard shortcuts as you go. Simply install it, then use your apps as you normally would: move the mouse and click. Whenever you click, Eve will send you a growl (popup message) with the associated keyboard shortcut.
Here is a typical scenario of how Eve can help:
2. Learn basic shortcuts for Google Search and GMail
If you are like me, you spend a lot of time on Google Search and GMail. According to timeStats, I
spend 15% of my internet time on those two sites alone. Here are 3 tips to drive them with your keyboard.
2.1. Basic Google Search navigation shortcuts
The beauty here is that there are only 3 shortcuts to learn to use Google Search more efficiently and they are quite simple.
Assume you searched on Google and have reached the results page:
- Hit [Tab] to enter list of search results
- Hit [Up/Down arrow] to navigate through the list of results
- Type anything to adjust your search query
2.2. KeyRocket for GMail
Other Google sites (GMail, Google Calendar and Google Drive) offer a cheat sheet via keyboard shortcut [Shift + /]. This is helpful to get familiar with the keyboard shortcuts you want to learn most within those web apps.2.3. Keyboard shortcuts for other Google Websites
3. Use Alfred App
Alfred is free a replacement for Spotlight (you can actually use both). Alfred uses simple keyword driven commands to do almost anything you want on your Mac.
When I first read about Alfred, it wasn’t clear to me why and how it was better than Spotlight. Alfred had a similar interface and used the same data as Spotlight. I used both side by side for a while until I completely got rid of Spotlight.
- Alfred is faster than Spotlight. No more waiting for indexing.
- Alfred offers better (more relevant) results than Spotlight.
That’s because Alfred learns and adapts itself (quickly) to how you use it. For example, items you use most, will show first. Moreover, Alfred has narrower search scopes than Spotlight: it won’t overwhelm you with irrelevant search results like Spotlight does.
- Alfred can launch anything you want from its bar. Some of those features are built in, others require the paid version of Alfred. Here is a list of features I use most.
- Search Google, Amazon, GMail, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, IMDb (built in)
- Google suggest
- Calculator (built in)
- Weather forecast
- Hours in different timezones
- Screenshots — simpler than OSX’s keyboard shortcut
- Navigate file system (built in)
- Run terminal commands (built in)
- Evernote actions
- Alfred can launch your specific apps and websites and it’s easy to setup. One of my basic use case is to setup my coding workspace. For this, I launch coding apps (Code editor, Web server, DB server) and coding websites (Github, JIRA). With Alfred, I open all of those by typing one simple keyword.
4. Window Resizing for OSX
One of the major issue with using a trackpad over a mouse is resizing and moving around windows. On top of this, OSX makes it challenging to maximize windows with a keyboard shortcut.
Moom makes it easy for you to arrange your windows and maximize your screen real estate. Moom has support for keyboard shortcuts and never fails at moving, maximizing any OSX window. Thanks to +Nicolas Embleton for this tip.
With the help of the apps above, it becomes very easy to drive OSX with your keyboard. Once keyboard shortcuts become a second nature to you, you will feel much more productive at your laptop or desktop. Then, just like I did, you can put away the mouse or sell it on eBay!