If you find yourself reaching for the mouse to do the same task over and over, it’s probably worth spending a few minutes to see if you can figure out a better way to get the same task done using the keyboard.
I recently started using TextEdit for all of my basic writing tasks. TextEdit is a great little app that comes bundled with OS X. But, one of the things that driving me nuts was having to take my hands off the keyboard, grab the mouse, and hit that tiny little menu in the top bar to insert a bulleted list. I use lists a lot, so this was becoming kind of a pain.
Luckily, OS X has a great way to add shortcuts to menu items that don’t otherwise have them. Go into System Preferences, select Keyboard, and then select Shortcuts. From here, you can set hot keys for a bunch of system functions, but if you click on App Shortcuts, you can define custom shortcuts for apps you use often.
^. (that’s control-period) to insert a bulleted list in TextEdit and
^-1 to insert a ordered list. You can set the shortcuts to anything that pleases you. The trick here is that in the left column, you have to set to the name of the shortcut to the exact text of the menu. In the case of the ordered list, the shortcut didn’t work until I added two spaces between each number and used and ellipsis (
option-;) at the end.
Now, I’ve got an easy way to add lists in my TextEdit documents. If you take a look at the screen shot above though, you can see I have a few others defined as well.
First, I’ve got a way to add a bulleted list in Mail. (I told you I use lists a lot.) Notice that I had to use the name of the menu item in Mail, which is different than the menu item in TextEdit.
I also have a shortcut for tagging documents in Finder. Again, this required the ellipsis at the end in order to work.