I will quickly describe the most important tools I use when using a computer. I use MacOS (Sierra, right now), but the lessons apply to all operating systems.
Never Use The Mouse
Most of the tools I use assist me in the furtherance of the goal of never using The Mouse. I will eventually write a lengthy blog post about this subject. I believe that The Mouse has caused an epochal negative feedback cycle in software design. The Mouse reduces productivity. This post is, in a way, an attempt to undo some of that damage.
Vimium is a tool that gives you vim-like commands for the browser. One of its best features is that it makes all links selectable with keystrokes, rather than with mouseclicks. It lets you do a lot of other stuff too.
Apple has decided that they would like their users to tediously resize windows by pointing and clicking at them. ShiftIt is a tool that gives MacOS functionality that was introduced in Windows 7 in 2009 - allowing you to move windows around your monitor with keystrokes.
Spotlight Search and CMD+Tab
I am not sure why the Dock even exists. It’s another tool built because users have been trained to tediously switch applications with a mouse. I use CMD+Space to open applications, and CMD+Tab to switch between them. If there were a way to turn off the dock (I’ve tried, it messes things up) and all the weird MacOS workspace/animation/fullscreen junk, I would turn it all off.
I use Chrome because it was the best browser 4 years ago when I was learning to become a good software writer. Things may have changed since then (I have heard good stuff about Firefox’s latest offerings), but I am familiar with Chrome.
Here are some extensions you should use with Chrome:
- AdBlock Plus
- Smile Always (give to Wikimedia)
- Keyboard Shortcuts to Close Other/Right Tabs (note - I have configured this plugin to give Chrome a feature it badly needs - ‘Close all other tabs but this one’, with the keystrokes ALT + SHIFT + O)
Familiarize yourself with Chrome keyboard shortcuts. CMD + F, CMD + ~, CMD + SHIFT + ] (and its sibling CMD + SHIFT + [), CMD + L, CMD + T, CMD + SHIFT + T (opens a closed tab), CMD + ALT + i (open/close developer tools), and as mentioned above, the useful Vimium shortcuts.
The ESC key
This key will close nearly every dialog you see when using software. It’s criminal that Apple removed it (the hardware version, at least) from the MacOS keyboard. Use this key! Stop using the mouse to close stuff!
I use iTerm2 as my Terminal of choice. I have a .bash_profile with a ton of aliases that have probably saved me days of typing in my life. Anything you find yourself typing constantly should become an alias! For example, one of my best aliases is
alias mbp="mate ~/.bash_profile" - this alias opens a text file of my aliases!
Familiarity with your IDE/text editor
I use RubyMine but I do not claim it is necessarily the best tool for editing text. It works for me. Sometimes I use TextMate, and sometimes I am FORCED to use Vim. The most important thing with these tools is (are you sensing a pattern?) that you become familiar with the keyboard shortcuts.