Why I love keyboard shortcuts

WARNING: Learning and using keyboard shortcuts will drastically impact your relationship with your mouse and greatly improve your experience on a computer. Proceed with caution. : )

Some look at me strange when I get excited about learning a new keyboard shortcut but there is a reason for my crazed excitement.

I love keyboard shortcuts for several reasons.

  • I can get work done faster
  • Faster than just using a mouse
  • More efficient than using a mouse in most cases
  • Easier on my hands
  • Don’t have to find home row again after task like with mouse
  • Cool Geek factor
  • Did I mention it’s faster than just using a mouse?

Proof of benefits

To illustrate the benefits of learning and using keyboard shortcuts I present to you 2 images with lines representing mouse movement over a period of time.

Mouse usage illustrated by Anatoly Zenkov over a 3 hour period of programming using Eclipse.

3 hours programming on Eclipse<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">3 hours programming on Eclipse</figcaption></figure>

Mouse usage illustrated by myself over a 7 hour work day of programming using TextMate.

7 hours of programming using TextMate<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">7 hours of programming using TextMate</figcaption></figure>

There are keyboard shortcuts for Eclipse, but I feel that it is very mouse centric in its layout and functionality.

Eclipse IDE<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Eclipse IDE</figcaption></figure>

Contrast that with TextMate that has a very simple and plain interface that relies on many shortcuts for its functionality.

TextMate<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">TextMate</figcaption></figure>

TextMate does have a tray for a project file structures but I have not needed it since I now use keyboard shortcuts to navigate to different files and sections within each file. That rocks!

TextMate Project File Tray<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">TextMate Project File Tray</figcaption></figure>

I show and hide this as I need it with a keyboard shortcut.

TextMate Go To File Shortcut Window<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">TextMate Go To File Shortcut Window</figcaption></figure>

I use this keyboard shortcut to navigate to and pull up the files that I want ALL the time. HUGE time saver!

TextMate Go To Symbol Shortcut Window<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">TextMate Go To Symbol Shortcut Window</figcaption></figure>

This lets me jump to specific sections of a document. Use it all the time now that I know about it. : )

Keyboard shortcuts are EVERYWHERE! I’ll even be soo bold as to say that applications that don’t have good keyboard shortcuts are not well thought out or well designed. (one of my biggest pet peves with Adobe Air applications!) So how do you learn them all? You don’t! You don’t really need to know them all. You should know and use the ones that will give you the most benefit.

How can I become a keyboard shortcut master?

Learn as you go. I try as best as I can to only use menu items or buttons once or twice if there is an associated keyboard shortcut. If I go to a menu or a button and it shows that there is a keyboard shortcut to do the same thing, I don’t use the menu or the button and use the keyboard shortcut right then and there and try to remember it the next time. It only takes a few times of doing this and the keyboard shortcut will start to become habit. I also learn a lot from others. Many people post their favorite keyboard shortcuts on blogs for the applications they use and watching and asking pros how they do it is great and they love being asked about what keyboard shortcuts they are using.

Read the users manual on the software or read the help. No kidding! I have found some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts by finding the section on keyboard shortcuts in the help menu or in the online how to manual.

Give your mouse the cold shoulder. If you decide you are going to use the mouse as little as possible, you are going to start making a bigger effort to learn keyboard shortcuts. Use them for everything you can and even make a little cheat sheet of your favorite shortcuts to make it easy to remember… even the pros do it.


I have benefited greatly from learning keyboard shortcuts and I think you would also. I encourage everyone to learn more keyboard shortcuts to increase the effectiveness and productivity on the computer. I also recognize that the keyboard is not a replacement for the mouse. The mouse is a great tool for interfacing with computers but only reaches its full potential when coupled with great keyboard shortcuts and good interface design.

If you are interested in the software that I used to track my mouse usage, it is called IOGraph and can be found at http://iographica.com/