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  8-08-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


QuicKeys X2 is Better than Ever


By Bob LeVitus

Much about the Mac experience has changed since I wrote Dr. Macintosh, way back in 1989. But there are some things about using a Mac that never change.

Here’s an example: In the first chapter that book (which was my very first, by the way), I provided this sage advice:

Another way to get things done faster is to reduce your dependence on the mouse. Use Command-key equivalents instead of reaching for the mouse. Unfortunately, many programs don’t offer Command-key equivalents for frequently performed actions. The way around this is to purchase a keyboard enhancer or macro program such as QuicKeys or Tempo II.

Tempo II bit the dust years ago; QuicKeys, on the other hand, just keeps going and going … In fact, the recently-released QuicKeys X2—which is the second major release of the program written exclusively for OS X—is probably the best version of QuicKeys ever.

QuicKeys is a macro maker that makes using your Mac easier. You use QuicKeys to create “shortcuts” to automate almost any repetitive task, then you play back the shortcuts with a single keystroke (or menu selection or click on a QuicKeys-made toolbar).

Here are just a few of the things I use QuicKeys for every day:

I have all those otherwise useless F-keys assigned to my frequently used programs. Word, Photoshop, Mail, Safari, Quicken, Address Book, and System Preferences each have their own F-key. The keys launch the program if it's not already running, or switch to it if it is. Better still, if I press Option and an F-key, the program launches or becomes active, and all other open programs are hidden.

I use QuicKeys shortcuts to type boilerplate text, too. When I need to type my name, address, phone number, email address, etc., I trigger a shortcut with a hot key and QuicKeys types it for me. (In all fairness, Riccardo Ettore's excellent shareware program TypeIt4Me X can do this, too. It may even do it better.)

I use shortcuts to open my most-used folders in the Finder. But by using QuicKeys I make them open just the way I like them—QuicKeys makes the Finder active, hides all other running applications, opens the folder, then switches it to Column view if it’s not in Column view already.

I use shortcuts to reprogram keyboard shortcuts in menus. If I prefer a different keyboard shortcut than the one provided by the program, QuicKeys lets me override it in a flash. I also use it to add keyboard shortcuts to menu items that don't have keyboard shortcuts.
Finally, shortcuts let me click on buttons in dialog boxes without touching the mouse.

QuicKeys shortcuts can be made available in all applications or they can be application-specific, so they only work when a particular program is active. Furthermore, you can trigger any shortcut automatically at a designated time and/or date.
Shortcuts are a snap to create—either build them in the easy-to-use editor, or turn on the recorder and have QuicKeys record your keystrokes and mouse clicks for you.

The bottom line is that QuicKeys may be the most useful utility I own. But don't take my word for it. You can download a working 30-day demo and experience the power of QuicKeys for yourself at:

By the way, I realize that QuicKeys costs $100. And while I feel it’s worth every penny, you may not. If so, check out Script Software’s iKey ( or Michael F. Kamprath’s Keyboard Maestro ( Both of these excellent shareware offerings can do much of what QuicKeys does, but for $20 instead of $100.

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus



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