How to “hack” your computer with custom hotkeys for folders, text, apps, and more

I’m always interested in hearing about long-term sustainable ways to increase my productivity and work more efficiently. The faster and easier you can make your work tasks, the more free time you have for friends, family, hobbies, and whatever else you enjoy.

A while back I was turned onto the idea of hotkeys, or keyboard shortcuts, in a course I was reviewing as a way to make basic tasks you often repeat flow faster and more seamlessly.

Basically, the way hotkeys work is you take a computer function you often perform or a piece of text you often type and assign a keyboard shortcut to it.

Then, instead of going through a range of more complicated motions to complete the function, you just type a series of 1-3 keys and POOF, it’s done!

Hotkeys have the potential to be big time-savers. And so, I really wanted to share this post with you.

First, I go over some of my favorite practical uses for hotkeys. Then, I cover how to set up hotkeys on a PC and on a Mac.

Let’s take a look…

Practical uses for hotkeys

Below, I share a list of the hotkey functions I recently learned how to create that I think are pretty useful.

Set up hotkeys to…

Autocorrect text language (for example if you make the same typos often)
Insert your email address
(since it’s something you type a lot)
Insert your website
Create an email signature
Create text templates for emails, documents, social media, etc.
(this is the major one!)
Open folders
Open apps

There are tons of other functions you can set up hotkeys for. But I think these are some of the most practical.

And below, I’ll show you how you can set up these hotkeys using either a PC or a Mac.

How to set up hotkeys using a PC

The easiest way to set up hotkeys for Windows is to use the AutoHotkey application (it’s free). AutoHotkey can help you set up hotkeys to do just about anything.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Go to AutoHotkey.com.
  • Click the green download button.
  • Click download AutoHotkey Installer.
  • Click to open the installer and leave all values as their defaults.
  • Continue through the installation process until it’s complete.
  • Click finish and return to your desktop.

Now, you have to set up an AutoHotkey script for whatever action you want the hotkey to perform.

  • Right-click anywhere on your desktop.
  • Choose New, then AutoHotkey Script.
  • Give the script a name related to the action it’s going to perform and hit enter.
  • Right-click the script and choose Edit Script.
  • You’ll then be able to add in your script for a specific action.
  • Click File and select Save As.
  • Choose All Files as the Save as type.
  • Save the file by its script name and add .ahk as the extension.

To enable your script, double-click it on your desktop.

NOTE: Each time you restart your computer, you’ll need to re-enable the script by double-clicking the script file on your desktop.

If you want to get around this, you can set up the script to automatically start when Windows starts.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Right-click your script on your desktop.
  • Choose Copy.
  • From the Startup Menu, choose All Programs.
  • Scroll down to Startup and right-click the Startup Folder.
  • Choose Explore.
  • In the folder that pops up, right-click and choose Paste Shortcut.
  • A shortcut file will appear with your script’s name plus “shortcut.”

Your script will now be able to start and load the next time to restart your computer.

AutoHotkey basics

1. When creating scripts, there are specific symbols that represent certain keys:

^ = Control
! = Alt
+ = Shift
# = Windows logo key
& = You can use the ampersand key in between any two keys or mouse movements to combine them into a hotkey.

To view an all-encompassing list of keys, go here.

2. After creating a command for a specific action, you need to add two colons.

[command]::

For example, ^h::

3. When you create text templates, if you want to add text to a new line, you need to add the command SendInput {Return}.

For example…

[command]::
Send, Your text goes here
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your next line of text goes here
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your third line of text goes here
Return

4. At the end every script, you need to type ‘Return’ on a separate line as an indication that the script is complete.

5. You can add multiple hotkeys to script. Just separate them with the Return function.

6. After trying to activate a hotkey, you may get an error message about something you need to go back and edit. Everything needs to be entered in exactly right in order for your hotkey to work.

To learn more about setting up hotkey scripts with AutoHotkey.com, go here.

How to set up hotkeys using a Mac

Getting started setting up hotkeys on a Mac is a bit simpler than on a PC.

Just…

  • Go to the Apple icon in the top left-hand corner of your Mac.
  • Select System Preferences.
  • Next, choose Keyboard.
  • Then, choose Text in the second tab.
  • You’ll then see a few built-in shortcuts, but you can delete those or add more of your own at any time.

(NOTE: Mac shortcuts don’t work on every application. For example, you might have issues using them with Google Chrome and Microsoft Word.)

Now that you know how to start creating hotkeys using a PC and a Mac, let’s dive into how to set up the specific hotkey functions I mentioned earlier.

Autocorrect text language on a PC

These scripts help make any typing you do faster. Plus, they help eliminate typos, especially if you’re prone to forgetting apostrophes.

::ive::I’ve
::im::I’m
::ull::you’ll
::dont::don’t
::cant::can’t
::wont::won’t
::didnt::didn’t
::couldnt::couldn’t
::wouldnt::wouldn’t
::shouldnt::shouldn’t
::gonna::going to
::wanna::want to
::kinda::kinda of
::idk::I don’t know
::idc::I don’t care
::btw::by the way
::ty::Thank you
Return

You can add any other abbreviation you commonly use to your own script. Just make sure every entry follows this format:

::text language::autocorrect

For example, ::LHS::Low Hanging System

You might even add one for your name or anything else you type a lot.

For example, ::RR::Rachel Rofe

Create shorthand text for longer phrases on a Mac

For any commonly used longer words or phrases you want to create shorthand hotkeys for, just assign a keyboard combination, input the abbreviation plus one tap of the space bar into the Replace column. Then, type the full word or phras in the With column.

For example, type ‘btw’ + Space into the Replace column. Then, type “by the way” into the With column. Now, every time you type ‘btw,’ it’ll be replaced with the full phrase ‘by the way.’

Insert your email address on a PC

^e::
Send, YourEmailAddress@YourEmailAddress.com
Return

This script can come in handy whenever you’re filling out forms or you want to sign up or subscribe to something. I chose e for email as an easy way to remember this script.

^e:: translates to pushing the control key then the e key (Ctrl + e).

And instead of YourEmailAddress@YourEmailAddress.com, you would obviously type in your actual email address.

Then, whenever you press Ctrl + e, your email address will appear.

Insert your email address on a Mac

For example, use ’em’ as the shorthand hotkey combo. Add that to the Replace column and then type out YourEmailAddress@YourEmailAddress.com’ into the With column.

Then, whenever you type ’em’ + Space, your email address will appear.

Insert your website on a PC

^w::
Send, YourWebsite.com
Return

This is another script that comes in handy when you fill out forms or want to leave an email signature or forum signature. This script translates to Ctrl + w. And, again, just type in your actual website after Send, and type Return on the next line.

Insert your website on a Mac

Similar to how you create other hotkeys on a Mac, type your website’s shorthand in the Replace column and then type your full website address in the With column.

For example, ‘LHS’ + Space in the Replace column and ‘LowHangingSystem.com‘ in the With column.

Insert an email signature on a PC

^s::
Send, Your signoff
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
SendInput {Return}
Send, YourWebsite.com
Return

For example…

^s::
Send, With love,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Rachel Rofe
SendInput {Return}
Send, RachelRofe.com
Return

This script is great for quickly signing off in your emails. It translates to pressing Ctrl + s (for signature).

Insert email signature on a Mac

This Mac hotkey is slightly more complicated to set up. Presumably, you’re going to want text on separate lines in your email signature.

To add line breaks, you need to type out the text you want to appear in your signature. Then, wherever you want a line break, hold down the Option key and click Enter or Return to make a new line.

When you’re done, copy the text for your signature and paste it into the With column and add something like ‘sig’ for signature to the Replace column.

Create a text template on a PC

Hotkeys can be really useful when comes to inserting text templates — customer service responses, for example.

In the past, I’ve shared a number of copy-and-paste customer service templates that are big time-savors, especially during the holidays.

And so, to make those templates even easier to use, I created easy-access hotkeys for each of them. You just have to copy and paste the scripts below into your own Autohotkey scripts and then save them to your desktop.

This way, you don’t have to go fishing for a Google doc or wherever you might have stored the templates. After setting up the hotkeys, all you have to do is press the hotkeys wherever you want the text inserted and it will automatically be typed out.

Template 1: When a customer receives the wrong item

w & i::
Send, Hey there,
SendInput {Return}
Send, We are very sorry for the mix-up and any inconvenience this has caused.
SendInput {Return}
Send, We do our best to get our orders right 100 percent of the time. But unfortunately, mistakes can sometimes occur.
SendInput {Return}
Send, We will get the correct item shipped out to you asap and make sure to send it priority.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Please accept our apologies again and let us know if there’s anything else we can assist you with.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Thanks.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Kind regards,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
Return

I chose w & i for ‘wrong item.’ And you would just need to press the w key then the i key. You don’t need to push the ampersand key.

Template 2: When an item arrives damaged 

a & d::
Send, Hey there,
SendInput {Return}
Send, We are very sorry your order arrived damaged.
SendInput {Return}
Send, We do our best to package our products securely with the highest quality packaging materials. But unfortunately, sometimes things do still get damaged during the shipping process.
SendInput {Return}
Send, We will get a replacement item shipped out to you asap and make sure to send it priority.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Please accept our apologies again!
SendInput {Return}
Send, Thank you.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Kind regards,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
Return

I chose a & d for ‘arrives damaged.’ Just press the a key then the d key to run this hotkey.

Template 3: When an item hasn’t arrived yet 
Version 1: If the customer did NOT pay for expedited shipping

(This is 99% of cases – for example, if a customer ordered via UseGearBubble where all shipping is standard)

n & e::
Send, Hey there,
SendInput {Return}
Send, We’re sorry your order is taking so long to arrive.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your order has shipped, however, and is currently in-transit with USPS so you should receive it within the next few days.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Here is the tracking number: [insert USPS tracking number].
SendInput {Return}
Send, According to it, your order is due to arrive on [insert the new estimated arrival date].
SendInput {Return}
Send, Please accept our apologies again for the inconvenience and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to assist you.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Thanks.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Kind regards,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
Return

N & e stands for ‘not expedited’ to help you remember this hotkey.

Version 2: If the customer DID pay for expedited shipping

y & e::
Send, Hey there,
SendInput {Return}
Send, We’re sorry your order is taking so long to arrive.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your order has shipped, however, and is currently in-transit with USPS so you should receive it within the next few days. I have also gone ahead and refunded your expedited shipping costs since the expected delivery date has passed.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Here is the tracking number: [insert USPS tracking number].
SendInput {Return}
Send, According to it, your order is due to arrive on [insert the new estimated arrival date].
SendInput {Return}
Send, Please accept our apologies again for the inconvenience and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to assist you.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Thanks.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Kind regards,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
Return

Y & e stands for ‘yes expedited.’ (You don’t have to use any of the hotkeys that I came up with. You can make your hotkeys whatever combination of keys that works best for you.)

Template 4: When a customer just isn’t satisfied 

n & s::
Send, Hey there,
SendInput {Return}
Send, We’re sorry you weren’t completely satisfied with your purchase.
SendInput {Return}
Send, If the item arrived not as described or was damaged in any way, we would be happy to get you a replacement sent out asap.
SendInput {Return}
Send, If you could please let us know more about why you were not satisfied, we will do our best to address your concerns. Or, if you would like to proceed with a refund, then of course we can do that for you right away.
SendInput {Return}
Send, We strive to create top-of-the-line products that our customers love, and we want you to be satisfied with everything you purchase from us.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Please let us know how you would like to proceed and our apologies again that you weren’t completely satisfied.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Thanks.
SendInput {Return}
Send, Kind regards,
SendInput {Return}
Send, Your name
Return

N & s stands for ‘not satisfied.’

Create a text template on a Mac

Take each customer service template and wherever you want a line break, hold down the Option key and click Enter or Return to make a new line.

Then, copy the text with the line breaks, paste it into the With column and add a shorthand hotkey to the Replace column.

Open a specific folder on a PC

There are probably a number of folders that you need to access frequently, especially if you’re doing the Low Hanging System— folders with your designs, for example.

To save time searching for these folders on your computer, you can create hotkeys to open them automatically.

For instance, say you recently downloaded my 2018 promotional holiday graphics and you want to gain faster access to those files without having to search through embedded folder after embedded folder.

What you can do is find the file on your computer, right-click on it and select Copy full path. You’d then paste that path into your AutoHotKey script.

For example…

#a::
Run, C:UsersUserDownloads2018 Promotional Holiday Graphics from RachelRofe.com.zip
Return

First, you come up with a hotkey combination, such as #a (Windows logo key + the letter a). Next, you add the double colons. Then, on the next line, you type Run, and that’s where you paste your file’s path.

Open a specific app on a PC

You can also set up hotkeys to run specific apps, such as notepad or calculator. For example…

#c::
Run, calc.exe
Return

#n::
Run, notepad.exe
Return

(C for calculator and n for notepad.)

These are just a few of the many things you can do with hotkeys. Can you think of any other practical uses? What would you set up hotkeys to do? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Top Holiday Insights – A compilation of fascinating facts about holiday shoppers (Updated)

To maximize your sales this holiday season, taking a closer look at the trends and stats from past holiday seasons is useful.

I created this type of post last year and I wanted to do the same thing again this year so you can better plan and strategize for the 2018 holiday shopping season.

In this post, I examine eight important insights from last year’s holiday season. Plus, I share key, email marketing suggestions along with must-know shipping deadlines and a little-known bonus holiday you can leverage.

So without further adieu, here’s what you need to know to make 2018 your best holiday season yet…

#1: Convenience and free shipping have a lot of power.

People love shopping from their homes. They love having their purchases delivered to their doorsteps. They love the 24/7 availability of online stores, and they love easy-to-compare prices.

One of the biggest hindrances to the convenience of online shopping, however, is having to pay for shipping.

According to Deloitte University Press, 47% of people said they will shop at brick-and-mortar stores just to avoid shipping costs.

But as long as free shipping is available, 72% of respondents said they anticipate shopping online instead of at physical stores. It all comes back to the convenience factor…

Image Source: www2.Deloitte.com

So whenever you can, offer free shipping.

And the way to do that is by building shipping costs into your prices. For example, if you’re doing the Low Hanging System, price mugs at $19.90 ($14.95 + $4.95 shipping). Then, offer free shipping. People will think they’re getting a deal and they’ll still get the convenience factor.

You might also wordsmith other convenience factors into your products’ descriptions. For example, you might highlight people’s preference for “home delivery” by saying “Have this one-of-a-kind mug delivered conveniently to your doorstep.”

Or, to save people even more time when they shop, you might highlight your selection of gift cards. (To learn more about selling gift cards with Etsy, eBay, and Shopify, click here.)

#2: Great prices entice new customers (and here’s how you can work with that).

Shoppers tend to stick with what they know. And so, 77% of people who shopped with you last year are likely to shop with you again this year.

This is a good thing.

But it isn’t to say that shoppers are set in their ways. Seventy-five percent of people said they’d be willing to try shopping at new stores, given the right incentive…the most enticing of which is better prices.

Image Source: www2.Deloitte.com

Now, for LHS purposes, I’ve said that pricing isn’t always a big deal. But if you are more price-conscious — and that absolutely makes sense in certain circumstances — here’s what you can do…

In the description of your top-performing products (don’t do this for everything you sell), you can compare your products to other more expensive items to establish an anchor.

For example, you might say “Other gifts go for $50 or $100+. But this mug costs less than $20. Plus, it has a super meaningful message that’s sure to tug on some heartstrings.”

#3: Discounts / sales have the most appeal.

Ninety-five percent of people said the offer they find most appealing is price discounts, followed by free shipping (75%) and free gifts (52%).

Image Source: www2.Deloitte.com

So consider running holiday promotions and be sure to highlight the big savings customers are getting.

You can set up a sale inside Amazon for your top-selling products. And you can do the same on Etsy by going here.

Also, keep in mind that the timing of when you run your special offers is important, because…

#4: Most people plan to start shopping before Thanksgiving.

Plus, early shoppers tend to spend more than people who start shopping later in the season.

According to Deloitte, 60% of people plan to begin shopping before Thanksgiving, spending an average of $1,685 (USD) compared to 40% of people who plan to wait until Thanksgiving or later and spend an average of $1,315 (USD).

Image Source: www2.Deloitte.com

Most people do plan to spread their shopping out, however (from late-November to mid-December). But, like last year, shopping traffic is expected to peak between November 16th and 30th, a trend known as “Black November.”

So if you’re going to run holiday promotions, keep this timeframe in mind. It’s your biggest window of opportunity.

And if you’re in LHS, get your designs up now because those favorites on Etsy are going to convert into sales.

Image Source: Shopify.com

#5: Cyber Monday was the biggest ecommerce spending day in 2017.

According to Statista.com, these were the top US ecommerce spending days during the 2017 holiday season:

  • Cyber Monday
  • Black Friday
  • Thanksgiving
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Day before Thanksgiving
  • Veteran’s Day
Image Source: Statista.com

Consistent with 2016, 2015, and 2014, Cyber Monday continues to be the most lucrative holiday shopping day for most businesses.

For LHS, though, people typically see sales increase starting Black Friday and continuing all the way through Christmas.

#6: Holiday-themed email campaigns lower open rates but increase conversions.

If you don’t have an email list, don’t worry. LHS doesn’t focus much on email marketing. But if you do have a list, there are a number of ways you can leverage it during the holidays.

According to Yes Marketing’s Holiday Marketing Guide (download it here for free), in 2017, holiday-themed emails generally had lower open rates than “business as usual” (BAU) emails.

(Christmas-themed emails were the exception. The average open rate for BAU emails was 13.9%. For Christmas emails, it was 14.8%.)

But even though holiday-theme emails typically had lower engagement levels, they often produced higher conversion rates than BAU emails.

This was especially true for emails pertaining to Cyber Monday. The average conversion rate for BAU emails was 4.8%. But the conversion rate for Cyber Monday-themed emails was 8.9%.

Green Monday-themed emails also converted higher than BAU emails at 6.5%, as did Black Friday-themed emails at 6.4%.

Image Source: YesMarketing.com

The guide notes, however, that many of the holiday-themed emails with lower conversion rates had less persuasive calls-to-actions, the reason being these emails focused on sending well-wishes more than driving sales.

Below, let’s take a look at some of the key findings for the highest converting holiday-themed emails:

Black Friday 2017 emails

Email timing:
Open-rates were highest (17.4%) for emails sent the Monday before Black Friday. And conversion rates were highest (9%) for emails sent the Tuesday before Black Friday.

These emails typically promoted “pre-Black Friday” deals on limited quantities of items for a limited amount of time.

Offer type:
Black Friday emails with no mention of a special offer in the subject line had the highest open rate (15.1%) but the lowest conversion rate (4.2%). Emails that mentioned free shipping in the subject line had the highest conversion rate (14.7%).

Image Source: YesMarketing.com

Key suggestions based on the findings:
– Promote a “pre-Black Friday” sale.
Create a sense of urgency through limited-time offers and scarcity tactics.

Cyber Monday 2017 emails

Email timing:
Conversion rates were highest (12.7%) for emails sent on Cyber Monday. And open-rates were highest (16.2%) for emails sent the Tuesday after Cyber Monday.

These emails typically promoted a one-day extension of the event, although conversion rates were at their lowest (2.7%) for these emails.

Offer type:
Cyber Monday emails with no offer in the subject line had the highest open rate (14.6%) but the lowest conversion rate (3.8%). Emails that promoted a certain percentage off in the subject line had the highest conversion rate (18.1%).

Image Source: YesMarketing.com

Key suggestions based on the findings:
– Highlight Cyber Monday’s limited timeframe (a one-day-only event).
– Don’t bother extending your Cyber Monday deals, as it can lead to over-exposure.

Green Monday 2017 emails

Email timing:
Open rates and conversion rates were both highest (12.5% and 7.1% respectively) for emails sent on the actual day.

Offer type:
Green Monday emails without a specific offer mentioned in the subject line had the highest open rates (13.3%) and conversion rates (5.9%).

This could be because the Green Monday offers typically weren’t as enticing or substantial as other events.

Image Source: YesMarketing.com

Key suggestions based on the findings:
– Shoppers are pressed for time at this point, so categorize your Green Monday promotions an make them specific (e.g. gifts under $15, gifts for dog lovers).
– Shoppers are also extra keen on finding deals at this point, so offer deep, limited-time-only discounts.

#7: 2018 Holiday shipping deadlines within the U.S. start December 10.

Learn when the rest of the 2018 holiday shipping deadlines are below:

USPS
Retail Ground – December 14
First Class Mail – December 20
Priority Mail – December 20
Priority Mail Express – December 22

FedEx
SmartPost Services – December 10
Ground – December 14
Home Delivery – December 17
Express Saver – December 19
2Day Services – December 20
Overnight Services – December 21

UPS
Ground – December 14
3 Day Select – December 18
2nd Day Air Services – December 20
Next Day Air Services – December 22

Image Source: ShipStation.com

#8: Special consideration for the 2018 holiday shopping season: Single’s Day.

Celebrated on 11/11 (1 is the loneliest number, after all), Single’s Day started in China and was later picked up by Alibaba, which turned it into an online shopping trend.

In 2016, Alibaba reported generating $18 billion during its Single’s Day 24-hour event. To put that into perspective, Black Friday sales in the U.S. generated $2.74 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer Retail.

Single’s Day is geared toward young people, encouraging shoppers to “treat themselves.”

And while not many U.S. businesses currently participate, this leaves a window of opportunity for you to get ahead of the curve and engage more younger, college-aged shoppers.

I hope you find these holiday shopping insights to be useful and interesting! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Boost sales by reaching “undecided” and “pressed-for-time” shoppers with these done-for-you gift cards

It can get nerve-racking selling items during the holidays.

Sales are up a ton (some people say they get 70% of their orders during this time!) and customers can be on edge.

If you’re selling print-on-demand – or really, any item – you want to have a fine balance of bringing in as many orders as you can and satisfying the customers that want their orders immediately.

Last year I made a post that gave you a win-win: you could give your customers printable cards.

You’d put the image of the product they want to buy on a card, the card would say “Your Item Is On The Way”, and customers could print them out and give it to their recipients.

This helps customers not show up empty handed to holiday parties while you get orders without giving unrealistic expectations.

The post went really well and people in LHS commented that their customers loved them and they helped save a lot of sales.

Most people used the cards in the way I mentioned above, but you could also sell general gift cards to your store. (We have instructions on how to do that for Etsy, eBay, and Amazon over in this post: Create and sell gift cards for your ecommerce store.)

And since everything went so well, I figured I’d get many more types of cards for you this year.

Now, you can find gift card images for…

  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve and Day
  • Birthdays
  • And any other “just because” occasion.

Here’s a sneak peek of the images we have (all free):

Gift Card Images

To download the images, just click the link below.

Download 73 Free Special Occasion Gift Card Images

I hope you love this round of images. I think they are all SPECTACULAR and am obsessed with my designer. ;)

I really hope you find these gift card images useful! Let me know if you end up selling gift cards in any of your ecommerce stores. I’d love to hear about your experiences!