Home Office: People Who Type Too Much

The key to success? Watch your keystrokes, note the ones you repeat, and turn them into macros.

Memo to readers of Home Office: You're typing too much. I know because I used to. I'd key in the same passwords, e-mail responses--even whole paragraphs--over and over. (Hi, my name's Steve and I'm a typaholic.)Luckily, with the help of a good rehab program (a super utility, a handful of freebies, and a few nifty tricks), I recovered. And you can, too. This month I'll share the tricks and tools that'll help you reduce the number of keystrokes you make while streamlining virtually all of your computing chores.

Wholly Macro

A macro is a collection of keystrokes, mouse movements, or clicks assigned to a keystroke combination (such as -). For example, in my e-mail program, a macro automatically replies to messages, types my name and address, and inserts a smiley-face icon (which I delete when sending mail to my editor).

Tons of free macro programs are available; nearly all of them are more than adequate for most people. But try TypeItIn first. Installation is quick, the program's a snap to use, and it's available free at FileWorld. The program displays a small box that sits on top of your applications. You right-click it to create a new macro button and left-click to insert text into your document.

You can create up to 50 macro buttons, which is plenty.

If you have a keyboard with a Windows key, grab WinKey. It lets you combine the Win Key (get it?) with other keys and create macros. For example, you can assign combos for your favorite Web sites, specific apps, or Dialup Networking.

The program's also free on FileWorld, and you won't burn many brain cells using it.

For $50 you can have QuicKeys, a macro program that really shines (download price is $40). Once installed, it scans your drive to find which programs are stored there, then creates macros to run them.

Using QuicKeys, I designed a sequential macro to open an e-mail in Eudora, add specific text to the reply, and send the message. And I did it in less than 15 minutes. You can design macros that work in specific programs or in all apps, with either toolbar icons or hot keys. Plus, you get toll-free tech support for 30 days.

Fair warning: Because these tools seem to perform miracles, you may be tempted to create elaborate macros. Don't. Start slow, then work your way up to more sophisticated creations. Another tip: Record keystrokes rather than mouse clicks and movements--it's harder to screw things up that way.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: Make sure you back up your drive before installing any new utility. (Sorry, I'm required by contract to say that.)More Quick TricksFeeling some resistance to using a macro program? Not to worry. Here are some tantalizing, macro-free tricks.

If you're using Internet Explorer 5.0 (I am, despite its Evil Empire lineage), you must try the AutoComplete feature. IE 5 keeps a history of every e-mail address, name, or other text you've typed into your browser or on a Web page.

Just put the mouse cursor in the field and click the left mouse button, then pick the appropriate text from a drop-down list. And voila, your saved keystrokes appear.

Eventually, however, the AutoComplete collection will get too big. To trim the list to a more manageable size, float your mouse cursor over an unwanted entry in the drop-down list and press .

If you use Word 2000, I have another neat feat for you. Go to Tools*AutoCorrect and click the AutoText tab. Type a short phrase into the field and click Add. The next time you start entering the phrase, a pop-up box containing part of the phrase will appear. Hit the Tab key, and the saved text will appear on screen.

The key to typing success? Watch your keystrokes, note the ones you repeat, and turn them into macros. After you've used macros for a while, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Find files from this article at www.fileworld.com/magazine. Contributing Editor Steve Bass is president of the Pasadena IBM Users Group. You can reach him at steve_bass@pcworld.com.

QuicKeys

$50 list; CE Software Inc.; 800/523-7638;www.quickeys.comProduct Info No. 627

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