I've spent a lot of time reading blogs, following users, watching videos, &c online, and have really come to appreciate the encouraging and collaborative atmosphere of the software world. As part of my ever-ongoing goal of improving my skills and understanding, and of finding ways to participate in and contribute back to the online community, I'm going to start with something I know and have a lot of interest in: productivity and workflow tools!
A common situation while working on a computer is having to manage content and information on the screen. This can quickly become tedious and time-consuming, especially as the number of active windows increases or as a task spreads across multiple windows. Furthermore, minimizing repetitive actions and making a workspace more keyboard-friendly can be helpful in cases of injury or mobility limitations. Thankfully, there’s an excellent tool for this need.
Spectacle is a free, open-source MacOS app that offers excellent window management features. This tool allows one to position and resize windows, as well as to change displays and undo or redo actions. What makes this really convenient is that each action is controlled by a customizable shortcut, allowing Spectacle to disappear into one’s workflow and offer simple and intuitive functionality.
My Spectacle config offers a natural and comfortable way to move windows around, without conflicting with shortcuts defined by other applications I use. All action shortcuts are based on the
CTRL+OPT+CMD key combo, which is easy to remember and requires little strain on the left hand by using the 3 strongest fingers in an ergonomic position. For window positioning, I use a grid of keys based around the home row keys and the 3 strongest fingers, again in the interests of ergonomics and reducing strain. With the base key combo, the keys
u o m . move the window to the top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right respectively; the keys
i , j l move the window to the top half, bottom half, left half, and right half respectively; finally, the keys
k h respectively move the window to the center of the screen and maximize the window.
My less common shortcuts wander outside of the home row setup, but follow the same idea of the base combo with an intuitive key.
] perform next third and previous third, respectively;
p perform next and previous display respectively; arrow up and arrow down perform size up and size down respectively; and
y perform undo and redo respectively.
After 8 months of using Spectacle, I’ve come to really appreciate its consistency and effective simplicity, especially as a free and open-source application. Since figuring out a config that works for me, I’ve been able to manage windows quickly and effectively, saving a hefty amount of time and tedium that would’ve added up over almost a year. Not only that, but Spectacle even comes in handy during niche issues, such as if a mouse is momentarily unavailable.
I’ve heard of other similar tools such as Moom, so I’m interested in trying them out and seeing how they compare to Spectacle. If you have any favorite productivity tools or recommendations, please feel free to share! In the meantime, I'll be prepping for my next installment of Workflow Wednesday.
- Spectacle website: https://www.spectacleapp.com/
- Spectacle source code: https://github.com/eczarny/spectacle
(Originally published on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 to Github)