Keyboard shortcut

DIY Shortcut Keyboard

Working with CAD programs involves focusing on the task at hand and keyboard shortcuts can be very handy. Most software packages allow the user to customize these shortcuts but eventually, certain complex key combination can become a distraction.

[awende] over at Sparkfun has created a Cherry MX Keyboard which incorporates all of the Autodesk Eagle Shortcuts to a single 4×4 matrix. The project exploits the Arduino Pro Mini’s ability to mimic an HID device over USB thereby enabling the DIY keyboard. Pushbuttons connected to the GPIOs are read by the Arduino…

Use a Gaming Mouse and Browse the Web Like a King

I’ve been a Mac user for a decade, but I’ve always hated Apple’s default one-button mouse, and I’ve never gotten comfortable with trackpad gestures. I grew up using a three-button mouse on the family Amiga. Years later, I loved scroll wheels, trackballs, and mice with thumb buttons, but I wanted more.

For the past six years I’ve used a 12-button gaming mouse. Not for gaming, and not for bizarre 3D applications, but so I can browse the web.

The default keyboard shortcuts for web browsing are anti-ergonomic. I spend most of my day in Chrome, using shortcuts like ctrl-shift-tab and option-command-left, a tabletop game of Twister that leaves me with a sore left thumb. I’ve tried custom keyboard shortcuts with Shortkeys, but every key combo still feels like a Rube Goldberg machine compared to the instant gratification of a dedicated mouse button.

This works outside a browser. Whether you spend your day in Word, Photoshop, PowerPoint, or Excel, you have a set of functions you use all the time, functions that deserve their own button. Follow me into the future of work.

Choose your mouse

Get the mouse that matches your comfort level. If you’re used to a simple two-button mouse, you might want to start out by just adding two thumb buttons. If you’re already adept with gestures, you’re ready for more. Here are the best options at each level.

Beginner mice

A lot of mice now come with two extra buttons above the thumb, for going back and forward in history. Even the $10 VicTsing MM057, Amazon’s top-selling mouse, has a pair. It’s a nice start, but it’s just that—the start of a mouse’s potential. Plus the thin, flimsy thumb buttons on many of these budget mice are easy to accidentally click.

Intermediate mice

Mice with more than two extra buttons are usually marketed to gamers. So they cost more, they include complex sensitivity settings that you won’t use, and they tend to look like Decepticons with tribal tattoos. If you can live with all that, $40-70 will get you a reliable mouse that will save your aching fingers for years.

The optimal arrangement spreads the extra buttons out among different fingers, so no one finger has to “remember” more than a couple movements. Logitech dominates this space with several moderately priced gaming mice.

My favorite is the Logitech G700s ($68), which adds eight extra buttons: four above the thumb, three by the forefinger, and two behind the scroll wheel. Most of the buttons are heavily contoured to suggest rocking back and forth…

How to Take a Screenshot of Your MacBook’s Touch Bar

You know how to take screenshots on a Mac, but not how to take screenshots of the second display on your new MacBook Pro: the Touch Bar. What if you want to share how you’ve customized the Touch Bar, or the dumb Touch Bar apps you’ve found?

It turns out the keyboard shortcut for taking a screenshot of the Touch Bar is related to the other keyboard shortcuts for taking a screenshot: Command+Shift+6. Press these keys and a screenshot of your Touch Bar will appear on your desktop (or somewhere else, if you’ve changed where your Mac saves screenshots.)

The screenshot itself is going to be unwieldy: the Touch Bar’s resolution is 2170 by 60 pixels, meaning the results are going to be…

How to Make Your RGB Gaming Gear Actually Useful

RGB lighting in computer hardware, especially gaming-branded gear, is a divisive subject. Either you think it’s really cool and you want it in all your stuff, or you have good taste. (I kid, I kid.) But despite the rather flashy nature of LED-soaked “battlestation” gaming setups, there’s actually a surprising amount of utility to be found deep in all that rainbow-colored extravagance. Even if you aren’t a fan of the aesthetic, it’s worth considering the next time you’re assembling a gaming PC.

Here are a few of the useful things you can do with those flashy lights.

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Create Game-Specific Keyboard Layouts

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but creating a lighting layout for specific games can help you remember the key bindings for various titles. It’s especially helpful if you often play different types of games, going from a WASD-heavy shooter to a hotkey-laden MOBA game to a custom-bound setup for a deep strategy or simulation game.

Using color groups for different kinds of actions is generally the best way to go here. Setups typically break colors into movement, basic attacks, special attacks, healing and other modifiers, and custom macros (see the title photo of this piece). More robust programs offer pre-made RGB themes for popular games, which can be downloaded and installed.

Display System Information

There are plenty of ways to show your system’s operating information, like current CPU temperature or fan speed. But…

The History of CTRL + ALT + DELETE

By Virginia Hughes

In 2013, Bill Gates admitted ctrl+alt+del was a mistake and blamed IBM. Here’s the story of how the key combination became famous in the first place.

In the spring of 1981, David Bradley was part of a select team working from a nondescript office building in Boca Raton, Fla. His task: to help build IBM’s new personal computer. Because Apple and RadioShack were already selling small stand-alone computers, the project (code name: Acorn) was a rush job. Instead of the typical three- to five-year turnaround, Acorn had to be completed in a single year.

One of the programmers’ pet peeves was that whenever the computer encountered a coding glitch, they had to manually restart the entire system. Turning the machine back on automatically initiated a series of memory tests, which stole valuable time. “Some days, you’d be rebooting every five minutes as you searched for the problem,” Bradley says. The tedious tests made the coders want to pull their hair out.

So Bradley created a keyboard shortcut that triggered a system reset without the memory tests. He never dreamed that the simple fix would make him a programming hero, someone who’d someday be hounded to autograph keyboards at conferences. And he didn’t foresee the command becoming such an integral part of the user experience.

Bradley joined IBM as a programmer in 1975. By 1978, he was working on the Datamaster, the company’s early, flawed attempt at a PC. It was an exciting time—computers were starting to become more accessible, and Bradley had a chance to help popularize them.

In September 1980, he became the 12th of 12 engineers picked to work on Acorn. The close-knit team was whisked away from IBM’s New York headquarters. “We had very little interference,” Bradley…

Magnet for Mac Is the Window Management Tool I’ve Desperately Needed

We’ve seen a few different tools for Windows-esque window management on Mac over the years, but none of those ever fit well with my workflow. Magnet is an app that’s been around for a while, but a few recent updates have finally made it the app I need.

At a glance, Magnet ($4.99, but it’s on sale right now for 99¢) is like any window snapping tool. You can organize windows neatly side-by-side, in fullscreen, quarters, thirds, or any combination of those you want. You can manage windows by dragging them, setting up keyboard shortcuts, or by using the menu bar. This alone is helpful for someone like me, who typically has dozens of windows open of varying sizes all stacked in a disorganized way that makes me spend more time in the app switcher than I’d like. If I do ever bother to manually resize a window, it’s usually just to make it large enough to peak out from another stack of apps.

What sets Magnet apart from other options is the sheer amount of polish. It doesn’t get confused by multiple displays (and in fact supports up to six external displays) and you can customize the keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs. It also supports any combination of window areas. For example, you can cram one window in the top right, another in the bottom right, then expand one window to take up the other half of the screen. Magnet also just added options for left/center/right thirds, which turns out to be the feature I was truly waiting for.

What’s especially nice about Magnet is that it doesn’t force any specific move set on you. Whether you’re a keyboard shortcut type of person, a menu person, or a mouse person, you can make user of Magnet. Let’s take a look at how all of these different options look in action.

Organize Windows…

How to Add a Drop-Down Calendar to the macOS Menu Bar Clock

Windows users can click the clock on the taskbar to see a calendar, which is perfect if you need to know what day of the week June 17th is. Macs don’t offer this feature, at least not out-of-the-box. But there are programs that can add one.

Our favorite free option is a program called Itsycal. It’s lightweight, shows your Calendar appointments, and even supports keyboard shortcuts for quick browsing. Here’s how to set it up, and even customize it to replace the clock on your menu bar.

Getting Started With Itsycal

Head to the itsycal homepage and download the application. It comes in a ZIP file which you can unarchive by clicking. Drag the application to your Applications folder.

Launch the application and you’ll see a calendar icon in your menu bar. Click this to bring up a tiny calendar popup.

Appointments are shown below the calendar, and you can click any day to see its appointments. Don’t like using the mouse? You can browse using the keyboard: “J” and “K” browse up and down, while “H” and “L” browse left and right. You can also use the arrow keys: Left and Right jump forward a month, while Up and Down jump between years.

At the bottom of the pop-up window is an icon that looks like a gear. Click to to access the preferences.

From here you can decide…

The Best Keyboard Shortcuts for Bash (aka the Linux and macOS Terminal)

Bash is the default command-line shell on most Linux distributions, from Ubuntu and Debian to Red Hat and Fedora. Bash is also the default shell included with macOS, and you can install a Linux-based bash environment on Windows 10.

The bash shell features a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts you can use. These will work in bash on any operating system. Some of them may not work if you’re accessing bash remotely through an SSH or telnet session, depending on how you have your keys mapped.

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Working With Processes

Use the following shortcuts to manage running processes.

  • Ctrl+C: Interrupt (kill) the current foreground process running in in the terminal. This sends the SIGINT signal to the process, which is technically just a request—most processes will honor it, but some may ignore it.
  • Ctrl+Z: Suspend the current foreground process running in bash. This sends the SIGTSTP signal to the process. To return the process to the foreground later, use the fg process_name command.
  • Ctrl+D: Close the bash shell. This sends an EOF (End-of-file) marker to bash, and bash exits when it receives this marker. This is similar to running the exit command.

Controlling the Screen

The following shortcuts allow you to control what appears on the screen.

  • Ctrl+L: Clear the screen. This is similar to running the “clear” command.
  • Ctrl+S: Stop all output to the screen. This is particularly useful when running commands with a lot of long, verbose output, but you don’t want to stop the command itself with Ctrl+C.
  • Ctrl+Q: Resume output to the screen after stopping it with Ctrl+S.

Moving the Cursor

Use the following shortcuts to quickly move the cursor around the current line while typing a command.

  • Ctrl+A or Home: Go to the beginning of the line.
  • Ctrl+E or End: Go to the end of the line.
  • Alt+B: Go left (back) one word.
  • Ctrl+B: Go left (back) one character.
  • Alt+F: Go right (forward) one word.
  • Ctrl+F: Go right (forward) one character.
  • Ctrl+XX: Move between the beginning of the line and the current…

How to Use Your Command History in the Windows Command Prompt

The Windows Command Prompt has a built-in history feature, allowing you to quickly view commands you’ve run in the current session. Even better, the Command Prompt offers quite a few keyboard shortcuts and other tricks for working with your command history.

How to View Your Command History

To scroll through your command history, you can use these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Up Arrow: Recall the previous command you typed. Press the key repeatedly to walk through your command history.
  • Down Arrow: Recall the next command you typed. Press the key repeatedly to walk through your command history.
  • Page Up: Recall the first command you ran in the current Command Prompt session.
  • Page Down: Recall the most recent command you ran in the current Command Prompt session.
  • Esc: Clear the command line.

Use these F keys to interact with your command history:

  • F7: View your command history as an overlay. Use the up and down arrow keys to select a command and run it. Press Esc to close the overlay without running a command.
  • F8: Search your command history for a command matching the text on the current command line. So, if you wanted to search for a command that began with “p”, you’d type “p” on the command line and then repeatedly tap F8 to cycle through commands in your history that begin with “p”.
  • F9: Recall a command from your command history by specifying its number in the history buffer. These numbers are display in the F7 overlay window, and begin at 0. So, if you wanted to quickly re-run the first command you ran in the current session, you’d press “F9”, type “0”, and press “Enter”. The command would appear filled in at the prompt and you could press “Enter” once again to run it.

To print a list of your command history in the terminal, run the following command:

doskey /history

You’ll see the commands you’ve typed in your current session. This is the same list…

How to Maximize Your Linux Laptop’s Battery Life

Laptop manufacturers spend a lot of time tuning their device drivers for Windows battery life. Linux usually doesn’t get the same attention. Linux may perform just as well as Windows on the same hardware, but it won’t necessarily have as much battery life.

Linux’s battery usage has improved dramatically over the years. The Linux kernel has gotten better, and Linux distributions automatically adjust many settings when you’re using a laptop. But you can still do some things to improve your battery life.

Basic Battery-Saving Tips

Before you do anything too complex, adjust the same settings you would on a Windows laptop or MacBook to maximize battery life.

For example, tell your Linux laptop to suspend—this is what Linux calls sleep mode—more quickly when you’re not using it. You’ll find this option in your Linux desktop’s settings. For example, head to System Settings > Power on an Ubuntu desktop.

Screen brightness can affect battery life dramatically. The brighter your display backlight, the worse your battery life will be. If your laptop has hotkeys to change screen brightness, try them—they’ll hopefully work on Linux, too. If not, you’ll find this option somewhere in your Linux desktop’s settings. It’s available at System Settings > Brightness & Lock on Ubuntu.

You can also tell your Linux desktop to turn off the screen more quickly when it’s inactive. The laptop will use less power when its screen is off. Don’t use a screensaver, as those just waste power by making your computer do more work and leaving the display on.

You can also disable hardware radios you don’t use. For example, if you don’t use Bluetooth, you can disable it to gain some more battery life. Head to System Settings > Bluetooth to disable Bluetooth on an Ubuntu desktop.

If you’re not using Wi-Fi, you can save a bit of power by disabling that, too. On Ubuntu, head to System Settings > Network and enable “Airplane Mode” to disable Wi-Fi and other wireless radios.

Remember that what you do with the laptop is also important. Running heavier software and using more CPU resources will cause your laptop to use more battery power. For this reason, you may want to look at a more lightweight desktop environment, such as the Lxde-based Lubuntu instead of the Unity-based main Ubuntu desktop.

Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers (If You Need Them)

If your laptop has integrated Intel graphics, congratulations. You shouldn’t need to worry about power management issues with your graphics drivers. Intel graphics aren’t the fastest, but they have excellent open-source driver support and “just work” out of the box.

If your laptop has NVIDIA or AMD graphics, however, you may need to do some work to decrease power consumption.

The worst case scenario is a laptop with NVIDIA Optimus or AMD’s switchable graphics. Such laptops have two different GPUs. For example, an NVIDIA Optimus laptop will have both a more powerful, battery-draining NVIDIA GPU and a less powerful, battery-friendly Intel GPU. On…