Desktop computers need two essential input devices; a mouse and a keyboard. If you use a desktop computer, you’ve subconsciously developed a system that tells you when to switch between a mouse and keyboard. You hardly think twice about which input device you’re going to use, and unless you’re using complex software, you will never have to rethink how you interact with your system. Generally speaking, the mouse is used to scroll and click buttons i.e. perform GUI actions and the keyboard is used to mainly input text and occasionally execute certain commands. Shortcat is an app that aims to end or minimize your usage of the mouse by making your keyboard smarter. It is activated via a keyboard shortcut and works with any selected app. The app lets you hit buttons without having to switch to the mouse; you just need to type in the action text on a button and hit enter. Shortcat adds an icon to the menu bar and is activated when you press Command+Shift+Spacebar. A black bar appears over and a blue outline around the window of whichever app is active. Type in the text on the button you want to ‘Click’ and it will be highlighted in green. For recurring buttons that you will find on all apps like the Close button, there are shortcuts like CL that you can use instead of typing the text.
You will learn these shortcuts as you use Shortcat more and more for different apps. According to the developer, Shortcat will work on any app that implements accessibility; this includes the majority of apps. There are some known issues with it in Chrome and iTunes but you should have smooth experience for the most part. The app works by matching text on a button to identify which one you want to press/click. It’s something similar to the Find function you would find in a text editor allowing you to search for text which is then highlighted. Shortcat does something similar only, instead of the text being selected, the button is selected and it is executable.
Shortcat is still in beta so you can expect more features in next iterations. It isn’t ready to completely replace your mouse since scrolling functions are still accessed through the page up/down keys on your keyboard, but it’s an excellent start. The app can even select extensions next to the URL bar in Chrome though it is, as yet, unable to do more than just click them. The app is free for now and is likely to carry a price tag once it’s out of beta.