The Macintosh interface, although easy to use, is sometimes frustrating for control freakser, we mean power users. Apple provides few tools for automating repetitive tasks, giving many users wrist-lash. CE Software's QuicKeys has always been the king of Macintosh automation, and the 4.0 release secures that crown even more tightly. A slew of enhancements joins a new Setup Assistant to make power users more powerful while getting novice users into the program more gently.
QuicKeys runs as a system extension, intercepting keystrokes and performing prearranged actions, such as launching an application or typing stock text. The program comes with some basic shortcuts, such as cut, copy, and paste, prewired to standard Mac keyboard function keys. Using the convenient QuicKeys editor, easily accessible from the menu bar, you can make more shortcuts, or macros. You can also assign any combination of keyboard typing, menu selections, mouse clicks, system functions, and dialog-box interactions to a single keystroke.
Quick Help The Setup Assistant walks you through the process of creating a QuicKeys macro, and new tool bars let you access macros without memorizing their keystrokes.
QuicKeys has taken some flak in the past for an unwieldy interface that new users found difficult. This release sports a Setup Assistant that walks you through the process of creating a macro, so novice users can avoid the complex QuicKeys editor. Also new is the ability to create floating tool bars that let you access macros with a single click. You can make tool bars universalalways floating above any application windowor set them to appear only in a specific program. With tool bars, you can access macros easily without assigning or remembering keystrokes.
Version 4.0 also adds a host of new plug-ins. Advanced Text Tools automates such operations as excerpting text, adding and removing quotation marks, and changing case. New File Tools includes a batch processor for automating work on a group of files, as well as tools for changing file contents and location. The E-mail Tool lets you reply to routine e-mail with a single keystroke, adding predefined attachments and boilerplate text. The Web Tool links Web URLs to a keystroke or tool-bar icon, giving you one-click access to any Web site or online resource. Password Vault safely stores passwords in macros, and Project Saver captures your current application environment.
With cunning combinations, you can construct QuicKeys macros to do just about anything. And because macros are portable from one machine to another, users can share them to spread the time savings around.
There's much to like in QuicKeys 4.0. Its interface improvements show that the company is responsive to usability complaints, and the new features make this a must-have tool, even if you're not a control freak.
RATING: PROS: Inexpensive; Setup Assistant; tool bars; powerful plug-ins. CONS: None. COMPANY: CE Software (515/221-1801, http://www.cesoft.com ). COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $100.
April 2000 page: 58