Shake up your computer input habits

Today’s blog continues the theme of this month’s newsletter – your relationship with your computer. In this post, I look at what you can do to make it easier for you to communicate with your computer. By communicate I mean how you input your instructions to your computer. Some simple changes can greatly enhance your work flows and efficiency.

Here are three things to try to explore other ways to communicate with your computer.


Early voice interfaces were terrible – particularly with the kiwi accent. They also focused on word processing – large bodies of text. However it is worth trying the recent voice recognition devices as accent recognition is getting better. There are also virtual assistants –  voice recognition linked with artificial intelligence – the computer not only understands the voice command, but it links it to doing a simple task e.g. ‘send an email’ or ‘find me the closest service station’.

Quick Tip – next time you are using Google on your phone or tablet, don’t tediously type up your query – click the microphone icon and tell google what you want to search. At the right hand side of the search box there should be an icon Capture, click this, state your query and see how it goes. If it doesn’t understand your accent, check your language settings.

Keyboard Shortcuts

If you use a keyboard and mouse for word processing, you can waste a lot of time moving your hand from the mouse to the keyboard. Using a mouse is also a hazard for getting back, neck and shoulder problems.

Keyboard shortcuts can be really valuable. Check out some common ones on this Pinterest board. Alternatively, search for keyboard shortcuts for your software e.g. ‘Microsoft 20xx’.

Quick Tip – my best keyboard shortcut is using the spacebar to scroll down a webpage – taught to me by my eldest daughter when she was a baby sitting on my lap tapping the keyboard.

Another really simple interface to master is the volume. Many keyboards have ‘mute’ ‘increase volume’ and ‘decrease volume’ keys right at the top above the F keys. No more using the mouse to navigate to the volume button on your screen every time the phone rings. If your keyboard doesn’t have this, you can set up a keyboard shortcut for it.


Touch screen

Copying and pasting on your touch screen device can be tricky – it took me ages to figure this one out.  Sometimes you get an email on your phone and you need to copy and paste the text somewhere. This is easy back at the office, but it is not so easy on a mobile device f you are not a native touch screen user.

Quck Tip -What you need to do is tap and hold at the start of the text you want to copy, then wait. After a second when you drag your finger over the text it will select the text. When you let go with your finger, a pop up box will let you copy or share the text. Another good hint if you just want to remember it later is to email it to yourself so you don’t forget about it when back at the office – it will be there in your inbox.


It takes a while to form new habits, but the first step is exploring some different ways to interface with the computer to see if other options may work better for you. Don’t be stuck in a specific time period just because of what you first learnt about computers.

The good news is that for those that never really got up to speed with keyboard skills, the touch and voice interfaces offer the ability to work productively without having to learn keyboard skills.

Happy typing and swiping. Please try one of the tips above and let me know how it goes in the comments below or via email.

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