As VoiceOver users on the Mac, we all love short cuts. They make our life and computer experience easier. Most of us are familiar with the basics, when in mail Command N for a new message, and Command Shift D to send that message. We have to learn all of these keyboard commands to use our Macs. I am here to tell you that once you have gotten comfortable using your Mac, there are even more ways to speed up performance. Today I want to discuss Keyboard Commander. Some of you are very familiar with this, but for those of you who aren’t, Keyboard Commander is a most invaluable tool. One of the things I love most about the Mac is there are several ways to accomplish the same task. For example, say you want to open Safari. You can do this by going to your Dock by using VO (Command Option keys and I will refer to as VO keys moving forward) and D. Then type the S and depending on where it is placed in your Dock you will land on Safari. You can also go to your applications folder, open it, enter the keys SA, and quickly jump down to Safari. All of this is accomplished in two or three steps. If you are impatient like me, how about launching Safari in one step? By enabling Keyboard Commander this can be accomplished. To get to Keyboard Commander click VO F8, if you don’t have your Keyboard set up for accessibility than you will also have to hold down the FN Key to launch VoiceOver Utility. Once you get it open,interact with the Utilities Table with VO Shift Down Arrow. Go down until you hear Commanders. Once there, stop interacting with the table with VO Shift Up Arrow. Navigate to the right with VO Right Arrow, and select the tab for Keyboard. Check the box Enable Keyboard Commander. You can check the box with the space bar. You will get a pop up that tells you that Keyboard Commander has been enabled. Click OK, and continue to the right, as you will have to select a launch key for Keyboard Commander. I have chosen to use the right command key which on an Apple Keyboard is right next to the left Arrow Button. You can choose any key you like and I would suggest choosing a key that feels natural to you for when you have your hands on the keyboard. Once you have selected a key to use, continue to the right and interact with the Keyboard Commander table. You will find that Apple has populated the list with a couple of the commonly used Keyboard Commands. Safari is in the table and set to S. Go ahead and press the key you have chosen as your Keyboard Commander launch key and the letter S. If you have set up everything correctly than Safari will open. Yes, isn’t that cool, and more importantly quick. So how do you personalize the Keyboard Commander and set up programs that you often use? It’s simple. If you are still in the Keyboard Commander table, stop interacting with it, then move to the right. You will find an Add button. Click the Add button with VO space bar. This will take you in to an edit field where you can enter a key for a program. Say you want to set up Pages to launch by using the letter P. Enter the letter p in this box. Just a heads-up that the keys you set are case sensitive. You can set the letter P for two programs one to launch with a lower case p and one to launch with an upper case p. To keep things simple I use all lower case letters in Keyboard Commander. Also take in to account should you often use the caps lock key, and you have set a program to launch with a lower case p, the program will not launch if caps lock is selected. Got all that? Ok, so you have just entered a lower case p in to the box, VO right arrow over to the Command Men Button, and VO space bar on it. This opens a drop down menu. You need to go to the last option, Custom Commands, and you can either Arrow down to it or use the VO Shift Right Arrow to quickly jump to the end. You will need to go in to the Sub Menu and select the first option Open Application. This will open your standard window as if you were attaching a file to an email. I find this pop up is easiest to navigate in List View, and if you are in List View you will want to go to the first pop down menu and make sure your Applications are selected. Once you have selected your Applications in the drop down menu, you will want to move to your right and interact with the table. We are setting a Commander for Pages, so once you are interacting with the table hit the letter P to jump down to Pages. Note if you have another program that starts with the letter P this could come up for you prior to Pages. Also if you bought Pages in a bundle with Numbers you might have to go to iWorks in this list and then select Pages there. It all depends how you purchased it. Once you have selected Pages, the window will close, and that’s it, you have now set a Keyboard Commander. Yes, these directions might sound long, but all you have to do it set a Keyboard Commander up once, and once you have done it a few times, you will be amazed at how quickly you will fly through these steps. And why have to go through three or more steps to open your most used programs when you can do it all in one. Another great thing about making use of Keyboard Commander is it is a great way to toggle through open programs, as you just have to hit your Command key with the key you have set to launch the program. Here is a list of the keys I make use of. You will notice that I changed the mail launch key to Z, as I am constantly trying to get to my mail, and the Z key felt much more natural to me. As previously mentioned, I use the right command key as my Keyboard Commander key. A Abby Fine Reader, C Google Chrome, D Downcast, G RS Games, I iTunes, k Skype, m Messages, n Numbers, p Pages, r Read Kit, s Safari, u Mute VoiceOver Toggle, y YoruFukurou, z Mail. The possibilities are endless and I can’t remember the last time I actually used the dock to launch one of these programs. If you use Keyboard Commanders, please do let us know which programs you love launching with them, and what keys you find most natural.