I’ve spent a large amount of time lately writing about tools like Keyboard Maestro and TextExpander which allow you to take keyboard shortcuts and transform them into a macro or expand them into a block of text. After publishing these reviews, a common question I’m asked is: how do I remember all these keyboard shortcuts?
It’s a valid question – and the answer is I don’t.
I’ve memorized most of the basic keyboard shortcuts, but for the complicated shortcuts, I rely on BetterTouchTool (or BTT as it’s often referred to). BTT doesn’t make it easier for you to memorize these shortcuts, but instead allows you to replace them with gestures on your Magic Trackpad – which are easier to both use and remember.
Upon opening BTT, you’re presented with a view where you can create system-wide gestures capable of simulating everything from keyboard shortcuts to system actions. These gestures range from: taps, swipes, clicks, press and hold, force clicks, and much more. You can also create gestures which only work in specific applications, adding another layer of flexibility.
Without diving too far into the capabilities of BTT, let me tell you a few ways I use it.
Mark As Read In Reeder
In Reeder, my RSS reader app of choice, you can trigger the ‘Mark All As Read’ feature with a simple keyboard shortcut. The issue is, when you activate this feature with the keyboard shortcut, it creates a confirmation prompt which requires a press of the ‘return’ key to proceed. Simply put, it’s annoying.
I managed to get around this with a simple Keyboard Maestro macro which triggers the ‘Mark All As Read’ feature and automatically simulates a press of the return key. This shortcut isn’t as easy to remember though – that’s where BTT comes in.
I enabled a three finger swipe up gesture in BTT which – whenever I have Reeder open – triggers my Keyboard Maestro macro, automatically marking all my articles as read.
Mark As To-Do In Airmail
Airmail, which I recently reviewed, has a handy function for marking emails as to-do’s. The keyboard shortcut for this command is three keys, which makes it hard to remember. Instead, using BTT, I’ve linked a three finger double tap to this keyboard shortcut.
All I need to do is hover over an email I’d like to mark as to-do, and double tap with three fingers. Incredibly simple.
Besides Keyboard shortcuts, I also use BTT for window management:
- three finger swipe down to minimize the active window
- force touch top left corner of trackpad to go fullscreen
- force touch top right corner of trackpad to minimize all windows
- force touch bottom left corner of trackpad to snap window to left half of the screen
- force touch bottom right corner of trackpad to snap window to the right half of the screen
These shortcuts make it incredibly easy to manage my active windows. It’s a surprise Apple hasn’t already made these specific gestures default on the Mac.
Magic Trackpad, Improved
I’ve always preferred using a mouse on my Mac, that is, until I started using BetterTouchTool. BTT gives your trackpad limitless potential through a multitude of customizable gestures. This prevents against having to remember all the elaborate keyboard shortcuts I’ve created in other programs and allows me to keep one hand on my trackpad.
BetterTouchTool is an app I’d struggle to effectively use a Mac without. You can buy BTT here, and the best part is, the developer allows you to set the price. That’s right, you pay how much you think BTT is worth. There’s also a free trial for BTT available if you’d like to try it first.