Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably wasting a lot of time at your keyboard. According to Brainscape, you can save eight days a year if you use keyboard shortcuts instead of your mouse the entire time. They say that “learn your keyboard shortcuts” is the new “eat your vegetables.”
The problem is that a lot of us don’t like to eat our veggies. It’s painful to remember keyboard shortcuts, which scares us from even trying to learn them. In fact, not too long ago, 90% of people didn’t even know how to use CTRL + F to search for words on a page!
Similar to keyboard shortcuts, there are tools that let you define your own typing shortcuts to save time while typing, like when you’re writing emails. For example, TextExpander lets you define shortcuts to convert an abbreviation into a full snippet of text; you can set the abbreviation “xhey” to turn into the snippet “Hey, how are you doing today buddy?”
The tool works like a charm!
So why isn’t everybody using it?
Snippets take too much time to create. They’re annoying to maintain and keep up-to-date. And most importantly, you don’t always realize what you repeat over and over again when you’re writing.
As a TextExpander user, you would need to spend a lot of time to make the shortcuts yourself and then learn to use them in your everyday workflow. It’s already hard enough to remember pre-existing keyboard shortcuts — imagine having to memorize AND come up with them yourself. It’s really hard to get into a good habit of doing both things, which can be a huge barrier to entry for new users.
Tearing down the barrier
Point has been building autocomplete and reply suggestions for email users, and our team has noticed the very same barrier to entry for our product. Users don’t realize what sentences they repeat and rarely create custom snippets for themselves. On average, our top user selects as many as 63 of our personalized, auto-generated suggestions each day but uses just 1 self-written, custom suggestion. We learned something important from our users — a product that works immediately out-of-the-box gains more traction than a product that has to be customized from scratch.
After we learned this, we set out on a new mission: tear down the barrier to entry and get everyone into the habit of using typing shortcuts. Our first job is to study your behavior, find out how you’re wasting time, and create shortcuts for you automatically. This is obviously a big tech challenge, but the results are surprisingly good when we combine our AI with our users’ feedback.
We save snippets that you can use right away, but you’re free to edit or delete them entirely. You can think of Point as an AI that recommends some personalized shortcuts for you to use, saving you from coming up with all of the shortcuts yourself.
Old habits die hard
Are you going to start using snippets all the time after we automatically make some for you? Not quite yet, probably. Only part of the barrier has been taken down.
Getting a list of auto-generated snippets helps a lot, but you still need to remember to actually use them! Existing tools like TextExpander rely on the user to memorize their snippet shortcuts and know exactly WHEN and HOW to use them. In other words, you need to put in a lot of effort to get into the habit of using snippets. If you don’t, you might go back to typing everything out from scratch… because it’s what you’re accustomed to doing.
We built two features to make it as easy as possible for users to get into a good habit of using their snippets: an intelligent autocomplete dropdown and a search menu.
If you’re typing something in a message and it resembles one of your snippets, Point automatically displays it in an autocomplete dropdown. You can simply hit tab or click the suggestion to insert it into your message. The autocomplete dropdown lets you type freely and only appears when Point thinks it’s time to use a snippet, so you don’t have to rack your brain every time to remember a shortcut or snippet that you saved.
Do you forget what snippets you saved already? You can use Point’s search menu to see all of your available snippets and quickly find the right one to use. You can open the search menu on any website by clicking the Point icon or using the “CTRL + .” keyboard shortcut.
Ready to get started?
So many people are repetitive in their emails and online messages, whether they realize it or not. There are existing tools that can help tackle this problem, but for the most part, people have been typing the same exact way for decades. It’s time to make typing shortcuts a mainstream process, and the best way to do it is through some automation — and getting accustomed to using them right away. If you’re on board, install our Chrome extension and sign up for Point for free! Our AI will take some time to learn how you write — but keep an eye out for some sweet snippets once it’s ready.
Got any feedback? Know something about typing shortcuts or AI that we don’t? Hit us up on Twitter (@pointapi) to start a conversation with us!