Sometimes they are not as helpful shortcuts

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/07/18 13:42 -04:00, original URI:

I was at the Pacific NW Access Developers Group meeting last night and was talking to one of the testers on the Access team before the meeting.

I was mentioning that Word "Helpful shortcut" issue that I like to complain about, when suddenly something occurred to me. 

Looking specifically at the shortcut I talk about in Get off my freaking key!, the use of CTRL+ALT+V to launch the Paste Special... dialog, I realized that the old shortcut to Paste Special... was (and still is!) <ALT>+E+S (that is the Edit menu item's Paste Special item.

So how much of a time saver is CTRL+ALT+V where you have to hold down all three keys simultaneously versus <ALT>+E+S where you either hold down all three keys st the same time or you can just hit them sequentially?

The old shortcut was  bit more versatile!

Seems like it does not save very much time even before you take into account the problems with so many language keyboard layouts like Czech, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Syriac, or Divehi. And then multiply the problem by every layout in every language.

Suddenly, they seem more like not as helpful shortcuts in a whole bunch of cases. :-(

I really have to take some time and write that add-in....


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Dean Harding on 18 Jul 2007 7:37 PM:

In Office 2007, that's changed to Alt, H, V, S though Alt, E, S still works (when you press Alt, E it comes up with a little "Office 2003 shortcut" window -- pretty cool :-) The whole shortcut stuff in Office 2007 is a lot better (though Alt+Ctrl+V is still there).

I love how, when you press "Alt" the letters pop up next to what you're going to access (so "H" next to the "Home" tab, "P" next to "Page layout" etc) then you press "H" and "V" pops up next to Paste, "FP" next to "format painter" etc. Then you press "V" and the menu pops up with "P" next to "Paste", "S" next to special, etc.

It's hard to describe, but when you use it, it's just awesome. And once you learn the ones you use the most, it's really quick, too. If there was a way to remove all the "Ctrl+X" shortcuts, I could get used to use just Alt, X, Y for everything :-)

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jul 2007 7:43 PM:

Unless one or more of the shortcuts were also needed for letters you were typing.... :-)

Dean Harding on 18 Jul 2007 8:45 PM:

Well, I mean all the Word-specific Ctrl+X shortcuts. So if you could turn them all off, all your word-specific shortcuts would be accessed by the Alt, X, Y ones (where you press Alt THEN X THEN Y)

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jul 2007 8:47 PM:

To which I should probably add that the main point of keyboard shortcuts for most people is not the visible cues but instead remembering the keystrokes. Whether one is in the old world watching menus open or the new one watching the ribbon unravel (or whatever the ribbon does), the fewest number of keystrokes is what is coolest for the shorcuts you care the most about....

Office 2007 in general and the ribbon/new shortcuts in particular seem optimized for the new user, not the experienced one. Which is certainly an acceptable business choice, but it is not a choice that favors me!

Dean Harding on 18 Jul 2007 9:03 PM:

Maybe it's just personal choice, but I've always found the Alt,X,Y ones to be faster anyway than trying munge my hand around Ctrl+something. Even if it's 3 or 4 letters long, I can usually do that quicker than pressing two keys at the same time.

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jul 2007 9:08 PM:

Totally makes sense to me. :-)

It is why I was using ALT+E+S for Paste Special back in Word 97 and found the new shortcut they added to be worse rather than better.

I think we are almost agreeing here. Almost....

Michael Entin on 19 Jul 2007 2:18 AM:

Not about shortcuts, but specifically regarding Paste Special: I find a new Word copy/paste options very convenient. Word can be configured so that when "pasting from other programs" it "keeps text only", which is what I need 90% of the time. Saves the key strokes, Ctrl-V is much simpler to use.

Andrew West on 19 Jul 2007 4:45 AM:

"So how much of a time saver is CTRL+ALT+V where you have to hold down all three keys simultaneously"

Well on my keyboard I can just use AltGr-V which is only two keys, and very convenient as I use Paste Special a lot (if only there was shortcut directly for Paste as Unformatted Unicode Text).

But I agree entirely with you that it is extremely evil to use Ctrl/Alt (AltGr) combinations for shortcuts.

Cristian Secară on 19 Jul 2007 12:43 PM:

I never tried to learn any Alt-based shortcut, because it can be different from one application to other, or from one language to other. The particular situation in my country forces me to use both English and Romanian language for applications interface, sometimes for same application if I switch the computer or the user. And to look each time for all those little underlines ... no, too annoying for me.

Perhaps the only Alt-based shortcut I am using is Alt+F4 :)


Mikkin on 20 Jul 2007 5:07 PM:

"watching the ribbon unravel" Ha ha ha ha ha

Thank you Michael.

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