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October 27, 2013

Homebrew Tips & Tricks: Typing Faster


A quick search on the web will tell you that you'd need to sit in a good posture, memorize the keyboard layout, go for classes, play "typing games" and learn to touch-type. Keyword here is simply "Practice". The benefit? more time to do other things (including coffee breaks).

But what about people who just don't spend as much time in front of the PC? Nowadays most of us will only need to type two or three lines to reply emails, update the Facebook status, Tweet etc.... But when it comes to a need to typing a letter or an essay or the annual budget report, I'd like to get it over with A.S.A.P but I don't see myself training to type that much to achieve this. So here are some of my methods that I use to complete my assignments without spending too much time on the keyboard.

Drafts & templates, keep them!!

More often than not, you're likely to be typing a report that contains the same formatting to the previous week, month or even year. Saving those documents in soft-copies will actually help to lessen the work as you could reuse the same formatting. 

This is especially when you're working with spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel as we tend to type in numbers and figures that need to be added, subtracted, multiplied and divided. Keeping the privoius template allows you to store the formula(s) used in it so all that's left is to enter the new information or data. No longer do you need to re-create the same tables, charts.

This not only saves you time, but will keep the report looking uniform and professional as well.

Software Short-cuts

Aside from saving drafts, software like Microsoft Words and Excel have some nifty tricks embedded into them to allow for improved speed. For example, most of us will know the "cut, copy  & paste" combinations with the use of the 'ctrl' key with either 'x' , 'c'' and 'v' keys. the full list can be found on Microsoft's support page (Microsoft Office Support Page).

The key is to only memorise those that are useful to you. For myself, I found that I normally use ctrl+b (bold) ctrl+shift+, or . (to resize text) and ctrl+shift+directional leys (text selection); just having these three functions alone lets me complete a page in no time at all. By doing this, you do not have to hunt for the specific functions in the tool bar or even reaching for the mouse. Some of these short-cuts will actually work on other applications as well such as blogs and forum posts as well.

Use specialized keyboards

A typical computer store will normally have different types of keyboards. From the cheapest to the most extravagant of keyboard, you'd be surprised how a good keyboard can aid in improving your typing speed.

Mechanical keyboards - This type of keyboard is so named for it's mechanical keys, at first glance, most of them would look like a normal keyboard, to understand what  makes them different have a read in Wikipedia. We also did quite a few reviews of mechanical keyboards such as the Filco Majectouch NinjaArmaggeddon Black Hornet MKA-3 and the Armaggeddon Stealth Raptor MKA-7.

These provide feedback to your fingers as you type, particularly true to the blue and brown version of the switches, which tells you that the key is registered even without pressing the keys all the way to the down. Theoretically, once you get used to it, you would then move on to type the next key(s) in sequence a little faster. The only thing stopping everyone from owning such keyboards are it's cost with the cheapest retailing at RM250.

Ergonomic keyboards - This breed of keyboards may look strange to most people. Far different from a typical keyboard, they break away from the traditional rectangular design and is shaped to suit the natural position of the human arm and wrists.

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (pictured above) is one such where the curves and raised parts as well as the position of the keys are placed in such a way to allow a more comfortable typing experience. Speed then comes in as second nature as you wouldn't need to reach as far or shift your wrist position as much compared to using a typical keyboard. It will take some time to get used to though as the majority of us are used to the squarish layout of the typical keyboards.

Gaming keyboard - Yes gaming keyboard for typing may not be it's intended target of use but the additional functions on these keyboards are actually quite useful. I'm of course referring specifically to the programmable buttons that gives me the ability to bind multiple keystrokes to a single button.


As you might have known, I've been using the Logitech G510 as my primary keyboard, with the extra 18 keys (G1 to G18) at the side, I've actually registered all of the most common word(s) that I would type. For example, my multiple email address and web-address is bound to a different key; so instead of typing "www.tech-critter.com" all the time, all I have to do is press on G4 and instead of typing "Th1s-Is_mY+passwOrd" (note the caps and symbols) as a password for my email, I just hit G17.

So if you use the word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" most of the time, the macro button just became your best friend hasn't it?

Conclusion

Though these tips might not turn you into a speed demon on the keyboard, but it will mean spending less time at the keyboard while completing more. Proves that, with a little creativity, you could be a little more productive without much effort. Do leave a comment to the article if you have any other methods.

Now, since I just made some time, who has time for Coffee?

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