Text replacement tool aka autotext aka text expansion tool for Microsoft Windows

The Hotstrings Newsletter

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Today, a few words about working with an office computer keyboard (🖮 + 🖥).

Chances are, like me, you work with a computer keyboard every day. I work in a team that produces technical documentation. This is one of the reasons why I type about 10,000 characters into the computer occasionally. When someone wants to join my team as a technical editor / proofreader, I am reminded of the story described in William Wharton's book Birdy. The main character's grandfather ran a small construction company specialising in roofing. He had a good reputation in the market for the quality and speed of his work. After the onset of the Great Depression, the number of people seeking employment with his company increased significantly. He had a simple way of checking that applicants could actually work as roofers. He didn't need a resume. If a person worked a lot with a hammer, he would develop a distinctive thickening on the skin of his hand. This was the result of a repeatedly formed and healed imprint where the hammer handle was held and struck while driving nails every day for a long time. Anyone who had such a mark on their hand was accepted for work.

A man who works a lot on a computer should be able to type efficiently. The keyboard is his tool. What does this mean? He should be able to type at a speed of 80-100 words per minute (400-500 characters per minute) without looking at the keyboard. How do I test this? I have a prepared keyboard where basically all the keys, except the modal keys, are in random places. This should not be a problem for someone who can type non-visually. To check typing speed in a few minutes I use the website https://monkeytype.com/. You can also try it yourself.

I distinguish between the following levels of keyboard typing ability:

- Beginner: you type with two fingers, you alternate between looking at the keyboard and the screen, you use the mouse a lot, you type terribly slowly and you don't even know it.

- Beginner plus: you type with up to 8-9 fingers; you alternate between the keyboard and the screen; you use the mouse a lot; you work slowly, with great concentration; you already know that you could type faster.

- Intermediate: you type non-visually, you focus your eyes on the screen while typing, you use the mouse occasionally; you know how fast you can type.

- Advanced: You use your own keyboard layout (you have moved the positions of selected characters), you use applications that make it easier to enter frequently repeated words (e.g. Hotstrings) and know computer shortcuts; you use the mouse only when you have to.

- Advanced plus: you use a keyboard that you have built yourself; you have ideas on how to improve your daily work and you spend a significant part of your working time on it....

Did you know that it takes about 16-20 hours of study to learn to type non-visually on a standard office computer keyboard? This is approximately how long it takes to master one subject during any studies.

Wait, what about smartphones? After all, typing on them is at the beginner's level of two fingers. And yet you can type on them reasonably efficiently, provided you have a trick that I will write about next time. That trick is predictive text input software, which can also be used successfully on an office PC, I hope.