CE Software's QuicKeys has been around for some time, I've been using it for quite a few years with Mac OS 9.x and now I've upgraded to the X2 version for OSX. It is one of those utilities I just couldn't live without.
What is it? Well, if you don't know already, it allows you to program keystrokes on your keyboard to do all kinds of things.
At its simplest, I use it to launch programs. I use the Control key plus the first letter of the program name - Control-p opens Photoshop, Control-w opens Word. If there are two programs that share the same first letter, then I throw in a Shift or Alt key too. I know that some people like to keep shortcuts or aliases on their desktop but I don't like that, I can't stand clutter on my desktop.
Email address and Web site URLs can be chosen from a favourites menu but it is even faster to hit Control-Alt-w to go straight to wpdfd.com, Control-Alt-g for Google, Control-Alt-a for Amazon, etc.
If you have ever used the Actions palette in Photoshop to automate a sequence of operation, QuicKeys can do that too, but in any program, or even between multiple programs. To make it easy, you just switch it to 'record', go through the sequence of events – selecting, copying, pasting, making menu choices, clicking on dialog buttons and so on, the program remembers all the actions and you can assign an f-key, or key combination to carry out the same operations again and again. You can also build sequences manually and instead of using keystrokes as triggers for a sequence of events, you can set a date and time – at midnight on the 31st, for instance, it will log-into your server, upload a bunch of new files and send you an email to tell you it has done it.
You can set up repeat loops which makes easy work of those repetitive tasks. You can either tell it how many times you want the task done or get the program to prompt you if you are likely to want a different number every time. Time delays can be set, so if you go away for a few days, you can get it to download your email so that your mailbox doesn't exceed quotas.
If you are running the Mac version, you can increase the power of QuicKeys even further by using it with AppleScript. This works in both directions, Applescript can tell QuicKeys what to do and you can run AppleScripts from QuicKeys. Not every Mac program responds to AppleScripts (or Apple Events at a lower level) but QuicKeys can 'remote control' just about any action in any program so you can send it an AppleScript telling it to launch a program, do some work with it, save the results and shut it down again – whether you are there or not.
The Mac Classic version has had quite few years more development time behind it than those for OSX or Windows, so it is the most fully featured and there is an additional Plug-in suite available for $14.95 that does spell checking, file compression and gives a degree of conditional branching for more complex sequences. The differences in platforms dictate what niceties are or are not possible but I can say without hesitation that any version will boost your productivity enormously.
If I could have only one utility program on my computer, this would be my first choice!
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|Ease of Use||85%|
|Value for Money||85%|
|'Must Have' Factor||95%|
|Price||$99.95 - Mac OSX, Mac Classic, Windows|
|Summary||Invaluable productivity booster.|