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Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts, part 1

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 3, 2010 - 12:29am

Yeah, I can hear it now… “Customize the shortcuts? But I barely use them as it is!”

And that’s the point! Keyboard shortcuts in any application are the key (pun intended) to navigating quickly. You ever watched someone work on a computer and thought “damn they’re fast!”? You can be that fast too; all it takes is keyboard shortcuts.

In one of my eBooks, I gave the following tip on just how to remember those keyboard shortcuts:

Want to learn the keyboard shortcuts for a command? Every time you go to the menu bar to select a command, look at what the keyboard shortcut is. Then do NOT use the mouse to complete the command, but instead, use the keyboard shortcut. Yes, even though you were just a wrist-flick away from that command, step away from the mouse, and use that keyboard. Next time you need the command, if you don’t remember the shortcut, repeat the look-but-don’t-touch menu bar steps. You’ll have that command committed to memory faster than you think. And before you know it, you’ll be flying through the app!

Why then would you want to customize a keyboard shortcut? Here’s a few real-world examples (from my world, at least)!

Perhaps you got accustomed to hitting Command-R to Reveal in Finder (or Show Original, or Show in Finder, depending on the app you’re in), which is a pretty standard shortcut in the Finder, in iTunes, and undoubtedly many more apps, to take you to the original file. But in Aperture, Command-R is Invert Selection. Which can be handy, no doubt, but personally my brain and fingers are programmed that Command-R will show me the original file in the Finder.

Maybe the existing keyboard shortcut is too tedious, and you find yourself using it a lot. In Aperture, the keyboard shortcut for Highlight Hot & Cold Areas is Option-Shift-H. That’s a lotta keys that are pretty far apart, even for nimble fingers. And that’s something that I toggle on and off constantly. So that could definitely use some improvement.

Or finally, maybe the command you want to use simply doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. There are dozens (hundreds?) of commands in Aperture, and they don’t all get shortcuts out of the box. But that’s no excuse for reaching for the menu bar! If you use a command often, such as Show on Map, then just make up your own keyboard shortcut for it.

So on my customized keyboard, Command-R now triggers Show in Finder.

I set Highlight Hot & Cold Areas to simply “Q”. No modifiers, just Q. (By default, Q takes you to the Project pane, no matter what pane is in front. However you can toggle through the three panes, Project, Metadata and Adjustments by tapping W. That’s good enough for me.)

And I set Show on Map to be Command-M. Yes that’s normally Minimize, but I really don’t use that very often. I Hide (Command-H) much more than I Minimize.

Tomorrow, I’ll go through the steps of customizing your own keyboard!

Apple Aperture

I have a wacom Intuos4, a real dream, just put some shortcuts assigned to the hotkeys on the wacom and your good to go, improved my speed bij 200%. Pricy solution but together with the tablet functionality, I love it!

Oh yeah, the Wacom is great for that sort of thing. In fact I mentioned using the Wacom in a recent post, Cropping & Exporting Multiple Versions Workflow Tip. Just saw the new wireless one… only 10 years late, but hey it’s here!!

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