Getting people to use keyboard shortcuts


When I use a program a lot, I usually end up learning a few keyboard shortcuts to save time. I would like to learn more of them, but it’s hard to find the ones that will actually be useful to me. Sure, there are some shortcuts listed in the menus, but the best ones are usually tucked away in help files or other obscure places.

I propose a better way of teaching users about time-saving keyboard shortcuts. First, provide a menu option along the lines of “Show me the shortcuts for each task I perform”. After selecting this, the program would watch the user’s actions and display a dialog box with the corresponding keyboard shortcut, if any. Second, provide an option for the program to analyze your past usage and show you the shortcuts that match up with the functions you perform the most.

While creating this type of assisted learning tool would require some programming, it would greatly increase the number of users who actually take advantage of keyboard shortcuts. In turn, these users would get more value from the program, use it more often, and be more likely to recommend it to their friends and colleagues. Plus, it’s pretty unusual for software to proactively teach you how to use it more effectively, so the learning feature would be novel in itself — further increasing the word-of-mouth benefits.