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…