May 2, 2013, 11:00 am
Text expansion generally refers to the way a few typed letters can expand into entire words, sentences, or even paragraphs. It’s a simple idea but an incredible time-saver.
We’ve talked about text expansion tools before on ProfHacker, but we’ve tended to focus on the Mac. What about text expansion for Windows? I’d like to recommend AutoHotkey, a powerful, open-source and free scripting tool that handles text expansion but also so much more. I’ve been using AutoHotkey for years, and it’s become such an integral part of my workflow that I often forget I’m even using it.
AutoHotkey runs in the Windows system tray whenever you load a *.ahk file. (Pro Tip: I placed a shortcut to my hotkeys.ahk file into my Startup folder, so my hotkeys load whenever I boot my computer). The .ahk file is simply a plain text file that contains your hotkey and macro scripts. You can edit the …
March 19, 2013, 8:00 am
If you’ve been reading my last several posts, you might have figured out that I’m kind of fanatical about keyboard shortcuts. That’s why I recently showed you how to learn your keyboard shortcuts, brainstormed new and simple twists on text expansion, and covered how to create keyboard shortcuts for ANYTHING! It turns out that my love of shortcuts isn’t restricted to the keyboard, however. Launch Center Pro is my most used app on my phone, because it lets me do everything on my iOS device with a single touch. So when I heard about a new iPad app that would let me fire off shortcuts to the computer, I was more than a little curious.
Actions bills itself as the One App to Rule Them All. But that title is a bit misleading, as it might make you think that it will control the apps on the iPad itself. Instead, Actions controls the applications on your computer. (Apple fanboy status be damned, …
September 13, 2012, 8:00 am
One of the fundamental design features of the Windows operating system is to provide multiple ways of accomplishing an action. Thus, many actions can be triggered from menu commands, icons or buttons, or by keyboard shortcuts. Users can thus choose the interface options they are most comfortable with. Because there are many paths to the same action built into the operating system, there are a lot of shortcuts or alternative ways of doing a task that many users might not be aware of.
I’ve been using Windows machines ever since my MS-DOS computer gave up the ghost back in the day. I’m not a Windows expert, but I consider myself to be pretty familiar with the operating system. If I don’t know how to do something, I can generally figure it out. But there’s still lots of shortcuts that I don’t know.
I was delighted to discover Shift-Right-Click a few weeks ago. On a Windows machine,…
May 29, 2012, 11:00 am
The code-sharing site GitHub has been on our mind lately at ProfHacker. After Brian inspired a productive conversation with his idea of forking one’s syllabus, Lincoln demonstrated how it might be done on GitHub.
Lincoln mentioned using GitHub for Mac (which he had previously written about on ProfHacker) as a way to work offline and sync changes to your code repositories without having to use command line prompts. But what about Windows users? Up until a few days ago, people who developed software (or other GitHub-ready documents) on Windows had to rely on the command line or third-party tools that involved complicated configurations (like setting up private and public SSH keys on your computer).
This all changed on May 21st, when GitHub released GitHub for Windows, a visual interface for GitHub that allows you to sync, clone, and branch your repositories with a few clicks. GitHub…
May 1, 2012, 8:00 am
Last month I reviewed Divvy, an application for resizing, rearranging, and repositioning the windows on your Mac or Windows desktop. As I said then, Divvy is a great tool for quickly managing the different applications I have running on my desktop, and I find myself using it daily. It elicits “oohs” and “ahhs” when I’ve used it in during workshops. The only downside of Divvy (as I noted then) is that it costs $14. That might be more than you want to spend for what boils down to something you could accomplish by clicking and dragging.
I positioned the post about Divvy against George’s earlier review of BetterSnapTool. This $2, Mac-only app allows you to drag windows to the edges of the screen where they are automatically resized to take up a quarter, half, or whole of your screen. Pulling the window out of this location returns it to its original size. It performs perfectly well, …
March 16, 2012, 3:00 pm
It should come as no surprise that we here at ProfHacker use GoogleDocs for a great many tasks: see, for example, Jason’s “E-mail is Not a Tool For Revision,” Mark’s “Editing GoogleDocs On The Go,” Heather’s “Writing Equations in GoogleDocs,” Ryan on running a writing workshop, Amy on creating writing portfolios, and my own post describing real-time crowd sourced notes.
Many campuses make use of the “Google Apps for Education” program to give faculty, students, and staff access to Google’s suite of online apps, and on such campuses GoogleDocs makes for a semi-official solution to the challenge of online collaboration.
Other campuses, including my own, might use Microsoft’s competing platform Windows Live (which I first wrote about almost two years ago). Recently, Microsoft began promoting Windows Live by specifically taking aim at GoogleDocs with a rather strange television…
March 8, 2012, 11:00 am
Since moving to a Mac about four years ago, I’ve often thought about the differences between the interface on it and a Windows machine. Perhaps the most telling difference was the way I viewed different applications. In Windows, I tended to maximize every application, viewing it on a full screen. On a Mac, however, it’s actually quite difficult to maximize a single window, leading to a proliferation of overlapping windows on a desktop. I don’t actually mind that, but what I do mind is the difficulty in arranging all of these windows to get them positioned optimally for me to do my work. (It’s not all that hard to do this in Windows 7 with its Snap feature.)
Last spring, George covered BetterSnapTool, a way for Mac users to manage their different windows. In a comment to George’s post, “bdesham” suggested another option for accomplishing the same thing: Divvy. As I read about…
January 27, 2012, 8:00 am
Anyone who’s spent some time working on a typewriter can tell you that one of the great things about a computer is how easy it is to type special characters. By “special characters,” I mean those symbols or accented letters that aren’t part of regular use in English but that come up plenty often in your scholarship. Instead of typing an “e” and then trying to position the paper so you can strike an apostrophe on top of it, you can just use a combination of keys to generate the perfect “é.” Much, much easier. Of course, the ease of creating these special characters is entirely dependent upon your ability to remember what the key combination is.
I recently discovered a handy widget for the Mac OS Dashboard that fixes this problem. CharacterPal, designed by tacowidgets.com, provides a small reference for typing the character you want. Once you download and install the widget, you…
November 7, 2011, 8:00 am
Those of us around ProfHacker headquarters who use the Windows operating system (and we are in a clear minority) have been waiting well over a year for the official release of Scrivener for Windows. Scrivener is an enhanced word processor from the folks at Literature and Latte that, until today, has been a MAC program. But today, Scrivener is available to both MAC and PC users, and this is an opportunity to cheer. Scrivener for Windows is finally here.
Scrivener for the MAC has been available since 2007, and it’s been met with rave reviews from users engaged in many kinds of writing tasks. In fact, Ryan has written extensively about the MAC version of Scrivener for ProfHacker. In March 2010, Ryan penned, “Scrivener, Scrivening, Scrivertastic!” and in October of 2010, he followed up with “Scrivener 2.0 Released for Mac and (gasp) Windows.” Additionally, in…
July 5, 2011, 11:00 am
I’ve spent a lot of time making my physical desk fit my work. I flip through new office supply catalogs with anticipation. That doesn’t mean my office isn’t a mess at the end of the semester, but I usually have a number of tools to get it in order. On the other hand, my Windows desktop is–well, out of control. Whenever I’m in a hurry, I fall into the habit of saving almost all files to my desktop for quick uploading or email. This week, I set out to excavate it out from under a mass of rarely-used icons and half-remembered files and found myself faced with the ongoing challenges of virtual organization. Here are a few steps that helped me along the way.
- Treat your desktop like your closet. The finite nature of physical space makes it easier to let things go. When cleaning out a closet, for instance, the standards are easy: does something fit? Do you need it? Will you ever use it…