I am in love with ActiveWords

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Tue, Jan 25 - 12:35 pm EDT | 10 years ago by
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I’ve been using ActiveWords for a couple of weeks now and I don’t think I can overstate how valuable this little program is.  It should come bundled with all new enterprise PC’s, if you ask me.  I say enterprise PC’s because the productivity gains that are possible with ActiveWords are something to which all organizations should pay attention.  I know the application has huge productivity potential for individuals as well, but it boggles the mind when you consider what is possible across an organization.

The best thing, in my view, about ActiveWords is that the initial learning curve is so short.  If you do nothing but install the program and one add-in (misspellings), you’ll reap some benefit immediately as ActiveWords corrects common misspellings on the fly, no matter what the context.  You could be in a word processing program or in a text field on the web–doesn’t matter.  ActiveWords will correct a misspelling immediately after you type it.  I’m still startled by it when I mistype something and the word disappears then quickly reappears, corrected.

That’s just one facet of the program.  If you spend a little more time learning the ins and outs, you can do remarkable things.  I’m sure I’ve got more to learn (since Buzz, the king of all things ActiveWords, offered me a demo and I haven’t taken him up on it yet), but here are some quick examples…

No matter what application I’m in, or even if I don’t have any applications open at all, I can type the letter "e" (without the quotes), followed by a quick punch of the F12 key, and I’ll have a new email message open.  I can type "matt" then F12 and I’ll have an email message addressed to Matt open and the cursor in the subject field.  No need to bring my email program to the front before initiating a message.

In my email program, I have a couple different signature files defined.  One is the default and the other is used less often.  With ActiveWords, I’ve set up two new signature files, so that if I type "sig" plus F12, I get my personal sig file.  If I type "gfu" plus F12, I get my work sig file.  This saves a lot of keystrokes during the course of a day.

Right now, I’ve got a crisis at work which requires some boilerplate text to be sent to anyone who writes to me.  Rather than copy/paste from an earlier email or from a text file, I just set up ActiveWords to insert the text plus my signature when I type "sch" and hit the F12 key.

I have pretty much all my regularly used applications set up to launch with an activeword, plus several regularly used network directories which are a pain to navigate to…just a couple of keystrokes and the F12 key and it’s open.  Nice.

You might be wondering whether I couldn’t just do all this with my mouse and some desktop shortcuts.  Of course.  But if I’ve got seven windows open, then the shortest path to the shortcuts on my desktop is either putting my hand on the mouse and clicking the desktop icon to minimize all the windows, or typing the Windows key, plus the "m" key to minimize all the windows.  Then I’d have to put my hand on the mouse, find the correct icon, and double click it.  With ActiveWords, I just type the word and hit F12.  Boom, it’s open.  Doesn’t matter what application I’m in, doesn’t matter if windows are maximized or minimized.

One last cool thing…in addition to creating whole sections of text, like my sig files, ActiveWords can help in finding the more unusual text characters.  For instance, typing the word "yen" (again, without quotes) and hitting F12 gets me this: ¥.  Typing "copyright" and F12 gets me this: ©.  "Pound": £, "rtm": ®, "trademark": ™, etc…  I don’t use those very often, but I definitely remember having to spend time looking for them when I need them.  Now it’s super easy.

There is more to ActiveWords that what I’ve outlined here, and I’m just scratching the surface.  I’m sure I’ll be mentioning it again as I continue to plumb it’s depths…

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  • http://office.weblogsinc.com Marc Orchant


    You’ve got the ActiveWords flu Bren and there’s no cure ;^)

  • http://www.davehyndman.com Dave Hyndman

    Hey Brendon. One nice AW tip: I use double-space instead of F12 as the trigger. I find this flows more with the typing of the command. Of course it wouldn’t work if you’re an habitual double-spacer.

  • http://slackermanager.com Bren

    Nice tip, thanks Dave…I’ll try it. I switched from the default F8 to F12 because some of our software uses F8 pretty regularly. Double spaces would be less of a reach…

  • http://www.cameronreilly.com Cameron Reilly

    yeah after using AW for a year or more, and trying various configs, I now use CTRL-CTRL to open the action pad and SPACE-SPACE to action it. I find this is really natural. My hand can reach those keys without thinking, whereas F12 or F8 is a little less natural. Good post Bren!

  • http://www.activewords.com Peter J. Weldon

    It is great to see more and more people realizing the power of ActiveWords.

    One point about the ActiveWords Key…. you can always script an ActiveWord to trigger the function key you have assigned as the ActiveWords Key. That is, if F8 performs a function you need in a particular program and you are using F8 as the ActiveWords Key, the ActiveWord script will execute the function when its associated ActiveWord is triggered.

  • Mark Howard

    Regarding the spell checking and typing boilerplate texts, a much better solution might be As-U-Type. I tried both As-U-Type and ActiveWords and ended up using As-U-Type, not only because As-U-Type can do everything ActiveWords can, but also because As-U-Type does lots of things AW can’t. For example, As-U-Type highlights spelling errors as you type, learns and adapts to my bad typing habits and works in ALL my software (ActiveWords doesn’t work with my 602Text editor and a few other home-grown applications). As-U-Type is here http://www.asutype.com/