If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time hunched over the keyboard. Anything that makes me more productive is well received. That’s why I am happy to do this review of a nifty tool called Direct Access.
In a nutshell
Direct Access integrates two basic functions into a slick package. First, it’s a text expander. Enter a pre-defined abbreviation and Direct Access will replace that abbreviation with a chunk of text. Second, it’s an application launcher. Enter an abbreviation (such as “goo” for Google), and Direct Access will launch the app.
The software comes with a number of applications pre-configured. And it also has some commonly entered text already set up for you. Everything is easy to customize, and you can add your own text and applications in a flash.
The reason why this works so good is that Direct Access confirms your selections before acting. Whenever the program sees that you’ve entered a recognized abbreviation, it displays the action name. If you press the “confirmation key” (F12 by default), Direct Access will take action.
As you can see at right, the software recognizes “br” as a shortcut for “Best regards,”. But the program won’t automatically insert the text. You have to press F12 first. This prevents “break” from being converted to jibberish.
There are so many cool features in Direct Access that I’m not going to detail them all. But I do want to point out a couple that stand out to me.
First, adding new commands is a piece of cake. The main way is to use this handy menu (through Commands > New Command). Just select the type of command you want to create, then follow the simple prompts. You can also create a new text command at any time with the hotkey CTRL + SHIFT + W. Just select some text, press the hotkey, and fill out the dialog box. Easy as pie!
Direct Access also has the powerful ability to customize commands at run-time. A great example is a canned response you use when replying to emails or support requests. You can use variables for something like the recipient’s name. Simply execute the command (by typing the abbreviation), then tell Direct Access the recipient’s name in the pop-up dialog. Now you’ll have something like “Dear Bob, Thanks for the email.” Your canned response looks personal!
As regular readers know, I’ve written a bit about AutoHotkey. I love the idea of text expanders. But AutoHotkey is complicated to setup. Direct Access has the ease of use and customization that many of you need. In fact, AutoHotkey might get un-installed on my machine before long. That’s saying a lot.
[tags]direct access, nagarsoft, autohotkey, text expander, application launcher[/tags]
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