HotKey Everything for 10X Dev Productivity

Published about 1 month ago • 3 min read

Happy Friday!

Today I want to talk about something that pretty much transformed the way I work.

Stenography is a shorthand writing method allowing users to transcribe text at speeds exceeding 200 words per minute, using abbreviated symbols for real-time speech transcription. It is mandated in all courtes of law as a method for recording the protocols simply because of the speed in which they’re processes and the reduced number of mistakes that can be made.

While I’m not a Stenographer, and I don’t have intentions of becoming one, I figured the same priciples can be applied to my daily workflow.

I started with figuring out my dictionary

Apple fanboy here (sorry, but don’t worry Android does the same) - there’s a text replacement feature in MacOS / iPhone that’s configurable with shortcuts. If you have iCloud turned on, it’ll even sync across all your Apple devices. Android has a similar feature: a “Personal Dictionary” can be found under your keyboard settings.

Once set, you can configure it to pop a text replacement suggestion for your full email address when you type something like :email, or :workmail for, well, your work email.

Imagine not having to ever type again your:

  • Email
  • Work Email
  • Home Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Greetings

Going all the way with “Text Expansion”

Having my own shortcuts dictionary is cool but it can get WAY better: I discovered Espanso and the world of Text Expansion. This little CLI helper, figures out shortcuts, keywords and other input you type and replaces it for you as you type. It comes with a YAML configuration for you to manage your personal dictionary, and, it’s open source.

The cool thing about it is that it can expand just standard text like :date will become the actual today’s date, but, it can also shoot snippets like the infamous Go if err := nil {}… or Javascript's console.log() etc. Just set a trigger and match it with a replace value in the config file, and let it work for you.

Now that my text and code are figured out, I needed a system to “summon” applications on demand

Command+Tab (Alt+Tab for you Windowsers..), don’t cut it. It’s slow, it adds friction, and sometimes I’d miss a selection and would either go full cycle or back. I don’t want that. In comes SKHD ; an open source hotkey launcher for MacOs. While there are other launchers for other platforms, SKHD’s concept is flipping amazing: with a set of simple configuration rules I can call / switch / summon applications with one tap. Regardless of whether they’re already open or not, SKHD will launch them immediately.
* The same developer created "yabai" for tilling management which I don't use because I couldn't figure out an acceptable setup for an ultrawide monitor. That said, Yabai is amazing and it integrates perfectly with skhd.

The terminal, is the world of aliases

In the terminal the key for reducing friction is managing a set of memorable easy aliases. If you’re a “oh-my-zsh” or other similar shells user, you probably know the git status alias gst or .. as cd .. etc.

I’ve built a set of these for everything I do. Whether this is kubectl for Kubernetes where I have kgpo to get pods (and roughly 30 other aliases to describe other objects), or Git, where I push, pull, amend a commit or even reset with a set of shortcut made for that. Everything, Is, an Alias.

If you don't have a list yet, here's something to get you started.

Lastly, there are certain things that can only be done with key combos

Since I’m now a proud user of a ZSA Moonlander (not sponsored 😢), like many other configureable boards, the ML lets you have a set of keystrokes mapped as combos. For example, when I want to transmit Ctrl+a+] for Tmux to switch on history mode, I can now tap the adjacent keys ert to send the combo without having to think about it. I do the same with splitting windows, switch sessions and everything else that requires multiple key combination and where I make enough mistakes to justify it.

Before letting you go, try configuring a Hyper Key

Yet again a MacOS option, but plenty of alternatives out there for other platforms: HyperKey is a “cheap” version of the above, It’ll map your under-utilized CapsLock or any other key to the combo of alt,control,shift and the os command key, which can all then be mapped for various tasks. Launching programs, changing layouts and more.

RayCast is a Mega Tool

RayCast Is the better (and free-er) version of Alfred (IMO) and offers key re-mappings, window control and a huge set of plugins to make your environment more usable, and friction-less. I litreraly hooked anything there, from OS window management, through ChatGPT sessions to an emoji keyboard. If you need it, raycast got it. Highly recommended.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have comments, questions, anything you’d like to share, feel free to reply to this email directly and let me know!

You can find me on other channels as well​:

📺: DevOps Toolbox on YouTube​
🎤: ​DevOps Topeaks Podcast​
✍️: ​Past newsletter issues
🗓️: Book a 1:1 session with me


Every once in a while I send hand picked things I've learned. Kind of like your filter to the tech internet. No spam, I promise!


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