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Shortcut Week: Ana Drake on Macros and Hotkeys

My name is Ana Drake and I love macros! Most of my work involves sitting at a computer for one reason or another – doing data analyses, conducting research, or writing correspondence. Macros are basically one instruction that expands to do many things on your computer. In their simplest form, macros allow you to click one key sequence and trigger a whole series of actions and for the desk jockey they can transform how you work.

Rad Resource – Hot Keyboard http://www.hot-keyboard.com/: This pc software program is free to try and $30 to buy and it has saved me ten times that in time saved each month. Hot keyboard creates hotkeys – key sequences that run macros (basically that trigger a series of actions). Using Hot Keyboard, it was easy to create hotkeys without any programming experience – it was easier and cheaper than other options I tried, and ultimately worked better. Here are three examples:

Lesson Learned – Hotkey to send email reminders: I have my keyboard set up so that when I am in any Microsoft Office application, holding down the “ctrl” key and clicking the space bar will open up a new email for me, already addressed to myself, with a subject line of “Don’t forget.” I use this all the time to send myself reminders. I’ll then quickly type in the reminder and send it off to me. I have another hotkey set up just to open a new email.

Lesson Learned – Hotkey to pretype text: When I write emails, I often include the line “It was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to working together!” I have set up a hotkey to so that with two keystrokes the full line of text is entered. I have hotkeys set up for about 10 lines (a couple are even short paragraphs) that I use regularly.

Lesson Learned – Hotkey to open webpages: Each morning, and occasionally on a break, I check out a few select websites including great blogs (aea365!), google news, and information about my passion for Thai cooking. I’ve set up a single keystroke to queue up all of these at once.

Rad Resource – X-keys http://www.piengineering.com/xkeys.php: I got so obsessed with hotkeys that I ended up buying an X-key keyboard extender that sits along the top of my computer with extra dedicated buttons that I can program with macros to do anything I want. These supplementary keyboards come in a bunch of shapes with from a few keys (mine just adds 16 extra function keys) to up to 84 keys!

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