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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > Reviews > CE Software QuicKeys

CE Software QuicKeys

Manufacturer: CE Software
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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"One-touch control of your PC" is the slogan that CE Software uses to describe their QuicKeys product. I'd have to say that pretty accurately fits the bill. QuicKeys lets you automate almost any boring, redundant, or time-consuming computer task that you might perform during a session. This includes things like navigating menus, opening and closing programs, typing often used text such as your name and address, and much more. QuicKeys can record your keystrokes and mouse-movements, and then play them back in the exact same manner. This means that just about anything you do on your computer can be automated using QuicKeys.

A recorded task in QuicKeys is called an Action. After installation (which went very smoothly for me), QuicKeys sets up a number of initial Actions for you via the QuickStart Wizard. The Wizard asks you about your most frequently used programs, what you like to use as a signature line in letters and e-mail messages, your preferred date and time display format, what printer(s) you use most often, and more. The Wizard then automatically creates a dockable toolbar that appears by default at the top of the screen containing a button for each of the Actions created. So for example, to quickly run one of your favorite applications, you can just click on the appropriate toolbar button. You no longer have to wade through a series of submenus via the Start button. QuicKeys allows you to create your own custom toolbars as well, so you can consolidate your Actions into meaningful groups.

Of course, if that's all the program did, it wouldn't be very impressive but in addition to Actions, QuicKeys allows you to create Sequences. While Actions are simple one-step tasks, Sequences are multi-step tasks that can automate any series of events such as starting a database program, searching for a specific item , and then printing out the selected records. If this sounds a bit complex, don't worry. QuicKeys makes it very easy to create your own Actions and Sequences via Setup Wizards. You simply select one of the Setup Wizards - Advanced Text Tools, Dial-Up Networking, Screen Settings, File Handler, Select Menu, Type Keystroke, etc. - and the Wizard will take you step-by-step through creating an Action for the appropriate task. You can also create any type of Sequence by recording the keyboard and mouse-movements that you perform while you're completing a task. Any Action or Sequence can then be given a name, description, a Hot key (for quick launching via the keyboard), and a button on an already existing or newly created toolbar. Actions and Sequences can also be triggered on a specific date and time so that your tasks are automated even while you're not at the computer, and the scope of each Action and Sequence can be limited to a specific application if you'd like.

The properties of an Action or Sequence are changed via the QuicKeys Editor. With the Editor you can alter any of the properties mentioned earlier, and you can also modified each of the Actions that are recorded into a Sequence. For instance, while you're recording the moves for a certain task, you may inadvertently click on the wrong menu selection with your mouse. Instead of stopping and re-recording the whole Sequence again, you can open the QuicKeys Editor and delete the Actions that perform the wrong menu selection. It's very powerful. Also worth mentioning is the QuicKeys Clipbook. This is like the Windows Clipboard on steroids. With the Clipbook you can store any item you want - a file, a block of text, or a graphic - for as long as you want. And you can access each item individually. The Clipbook displays a list of each item being stored. You can name each item and preview them too.

The only problem I came across with the program while testing the Windows version is the fact that it won't record your Actions if you use the Start menu to launch a program. This is a known issue and only occurs in Windows 98 or Windows 95 with Internet Explorer 4 or above installed. Hopefully CE Software will have a fix for this in the near future because it's a bit of a nuisance. Luckily, you can get around the problem by simply inserting an Open Action into your Sequence with the name of the program that you want to launch.

QuicKeys is one of the most powerful utilities I've had the pleasure to work with. Personally, I use it to save time with a variety of tasks including keeping the NewTechReview Web site up to date. The best thing about QuicKeys is that it already works with any application on your computer system. And of equal importance is that there is no scripting or programming necessary to create your own Actions or Sequences. Anyone can automate their everyday computer tasks.
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