I’m a very frequent computer user and I’m pretty good with the ole’ shortcut keys, on both Mac and Windows (I’m bi-lingual).
I remember when I’ve had hospital teams as clients, I’d often show them how to do basic things in Excel and they’d always say “Wait, how did you do that?” I’d forget (not notice) that I was using the keyboard shortcuts instead of mousing up to the top menu.
I try to Command-S (“save”) a few minutes every day by Control-X-ing (“cutting”) the mouse movement — using key combinations where I can, instead. OK, I’ll Command-Q (“quit”) the awful jokes here. But I won’t quit (can’t quit?) using my shortcut keys. I even know that Alt-F4 is “quit program” in Windows. I don’t know all of them, but I use them more than the average bear.
This saves me time, but it also causes problems…
The article, quoting Charles Best, the founder and CEO of a nonprofit called DonorsChoose, says that using Command-Enter to send an email saves a person 7 minutes a day, or the equivalent of 50 days over a 40-year career (assuming we’ll still be typing in 30 years!).
By using other keystrokes, you can save almost 2x as much additional time. I believe it, without doing a time-motion study on my own computer use (I’m sure there’s software that can do that for you).
Of course, reducing keystrokes means nothing if the work you’re doing isn’t “value” (if it’s “waste,” such as unnecessary emails!). You could ask why he’s having to send 200 emails a day, I guess.
So there’s time savings from using short cuts, but there’s also waste. In the web browsers I use, mainly Firefox and Chrome, Command-W is used for “close current tab” (and it’s Control-W in Windows).
If you make an error and accidentally close a tab, you can “undo” that by hitting Command-Shift-T (or Control-Shift-T). I told ya, I know a few obscure ones. That reopens the last tab that you closed.
Now the problem is that Command-Q, right next to the W, of course, doesn’t just close the one tab, it kills the entire browser — all tabs and all windows. Neither browser gives an “are you sure” warning… it’s too prone to error. It’s far too easy to hit Command-Q instead of Command-W.
Why can’t “close tab” be Command-K (for “klose”)? Or why not even Command-E (a little further than the Q)? I guess I could start a massive online petition drive and pester Apple and Microsoft… or I can take actions that would be quick and effective (the heart of error proofing or “poka yoke”, I think).
So how could I error-proof this?
- I could re-train myself to NOT use the keyboard shortcuts for that, force myself to use the toolbar.
- I could define my own macro to make Command-K be the close tab (I’d have to research this, but seems like it would be doable)
Either way, to really prevent this user error (human error), I’d have to do something other than putting signs on my computer that say “Be Careful!!!!” This is often the ineffective strategy taken in many hospitals, unfortunately, to try to prevent errors, as somewhat illustrated below. Well intended, but ineffective.
Thankfully, if you *do* close the whole program, the next time you open the browser (Firefox or Chrome), you get the
open option of re-opening the tabs and windows you closed last time. So there’s *some* error proofing in the sense that the software has somewhat mitigated the effect of hitting the wrong key. You just waste time (waiting) and bandwidth (downloading a page you’ve previously downloaded).
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