Until Next Year

International Keyboard Shortcut Day was a huge success. I expected that I would be the only one participating and I have pretty good evidence that a few other did. Therefore, we blew right through expectations and set the bar high in Year 1.

I put my mouse away at 2:30 and worked pretty much nonstop for an hour. At 3:30, I hadn’t touched my mouse once. I had actually opened a text file to record all the times that I was tempted to use my mouse and the keyboard method I used instead. But there weren’t any. I’m sure I go an hour without reaching for my mouse all the time, so it’s not so surprising that this hour was without temptation. I was really hoping to have some seemingly intractable problem so I could post my crazy keyboard gyrations, but alas.

I tweeted that I had completed my observance of the day and Twitter’s web client presented a big obstacle. I couldn’t compose and send a tweet without using the mouse. Normally I would ‘Find’ the text on the page and hit enter to activate the hyperlink, but it didn’t work in this case. The web is surely the worst for keyboard accessibility, but it was ironic that my IKSD tweet required using the mouse.

I think the benefit of going cold turkey for 1 hour once a year is that you’ll discover a keyboard method for accomplishing some task that you’ll continue to use beyond the day.

Please share your IKSD experience in the comments below. If you used your mouse at all, tell me what the situation was. If you discovered any shortcuts or other keyboard methods that were new to you, share those too. Not all keyboarding is shortcuts – nearly everything on the Ribbon is keyboard accessible, although sometimes it takes more keys than a guy likes.

Until next year, keep those fingers on home row.

8 thoughts on “Until Next Year

  1. I also jumped at the chance to participate (posted a photo of my hanged mouse to Facebook :-) ).
    My only glitch was with Novell GroupWise, our work e-mail program, which is extremely keyboard-unfriendly. to move a mail to a folder takes about ten times as long with the keyboard than what it would with the mouse. Of course, with the keyboard, I don’t run the risk of inadvertently dropping a mail in the wrong folder (hate when that happens!). Oh, and I was developing a VBA user form, and had to grab the mouse to position some buttons!

    Here is something for IKSD 2015: I use a little program called WorkRave (www.workrave.org) to help me avoid overuse stress. One of the nice things it does is keep statistics on your usage. I didn’t grab the data and analyse it in Excel, but looking at my stats for the 5th, there was a big drop in my mouse usage for the day, and an increase in my keyboard usage. And I am already heavily invested in keyboard shortcuts! It would be interesting to see what stats other users generate next year…

  2. One of the biggest challenges I found was moving columns in Excel with a table. I don’t mean the cut/insert cut cells method that moves the entire column, I mean the drag & drop capability within a table to move columns around (much like you can when manually sorting a pivot table). I never came up with a solution for that one, and as I had a pretty tight deadline yesterday, couldn’t spend a whole lot of time investigating. Be interesting to see if anybody has a keyboard shortcut for that.

  3. The one thing I’ve still not figured out is how to rename a sheet in Excel, without using the mouse. Anyone? Anyone? Other than that, I frequently spend hours a day not using the mouse, so IKSD was a walk in the park.

  4. I rename sheets by using Alt-H-O-R. One of my favorites is filtering using the Alt+Down Arrow.

  5. That’s funny, I use Alt+O+H+R to rename sheets. The 2003 and Ribbon shortcuts are so close. I wonder how many times I mishit the keys and still get where I want.

    Moving columns in a table is definitely easier with a mouse. So is moving sheets in a workbook, which can be done with the keyboard it’s just not as easy. But moving columns – I don’t think that’s even possible with the keyboard.

    I’ll check out WorkRave. That would be fun to see the stats.

  6. Despite Excel having had an Auto Save feature for about 2 decades, I still press Ctrl+S regularly throughout a work session.
    Old habits die hard.

  7. Regarding moving column(s) in a table:

    1. Press Ctrl-Space twice (selects the table column and the header). Alternatively, you only need to press Ctrl-Space once if you’re already in the header row.
    2. (optional) expand selection to additional columns with Shift-Arrows
    3. Press Ctrl-X
    4. Move to the target column with the arrow keys
    5. Press Ctrl-+

    IMHO even faster than by mouse… :-)

    The same approach also works for entire worksheet columns – where it is definitely faster than using the mouse as the worksheet doesn’t offer the nice drag&drop of columns as the table.

    Last but not least: Instead of Ctrl-Space use Shift-Space to shift rows – in tables or worksheets!

  8. Great idea Dick, thanks for kicking it off! =D

    Actually the Twitter web client is one of the most keyboard-friendly sites out there, there’s a shortcut for pretty much everything but stupidly enough, only if you know it’s there. Press ‘?’ for the comprehensive list of shortcuts, for example ‘N’ for a new tweet, ‘.’ to load new tweets.

    And as for Excel shortcuts, there are only two which I’ve decided to create my own shortcuts for: Renaming a worksheet and Autosizing columns.

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