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Review: ShortcutFoo turns you into a keyboard hotkey ninja

Erez Zukerman | Feb. 26, 2015
When watching a seasoned pro use their favorite application to get stuff done, you'll notice something within the first minute: They know their keyboard shortcuts cold. Where most of us reach for the mouse or rummage through the menus, the pro user knows all of their favorite key combos by heart, and doesn't hesitate to use them. Knowing your hotkeys saves time and frees you to think about what you're trying to do, rather than how to get it done. And the best part? With ShortcutFoo, mastering keyboard shortcuts doesn't have to take years.

Finally comes the Test part of each lesson: Here, the time pressure is off, only to be replaced by a different kind of stress. You get a prompt for each hotkey you've learned so far, not just in the current lesson, but throughout the course. Take as long as you want to think about it, because you only get a single chance to get it right.

Once the test is over, you'll see how well you did. If you got more than 70% of the hotkeys right, you can move on to the next lesson. In my experience, if you take the Fight stage seriously enough and practice until you win, you'll get far better scores. After doing that, I routinely scored in the 95%-100% range, even for dozens of hotkeys.

One area where ShortcutFoo could do better is customization. You can create your own Dojo from scratch, and you can also flag hotkeys in your current Dojo to suspend them if they're not useful to you. But there's no way to add hotkeys to an existing Dojo, and you can't edit the hotkey descriptions for the pre-made Dojos.

Compared to the version I reviewed in 2012, today's ShortcutFoo is a richer experience that supports more applications. The biggest change, though, is the addition of Fight mode.

At the end of the day, ShortcutFoo works. I've been using it for several weeks to improve my Vim skills, and the effect has been noticeable. Thanks to Fight mode, I know my hotkeys so well, I don't have to think about them before I use them — so I use them far more than before. It's the difference between reading about a hotkey in a book or manual, and actually using it dozens or hundreds of times in a controlled environment until you have it down cold.

If you've ever wanted to improve your hotkey proficiency, ShortcutFoo is one great way to do it.


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