Tuesday 24 Jun 2008

Command with mouse movements


When I discovered StrokeIt, 5 years ago, I found the idea great. We draw shapes with the mouse to execute commands, your computer obey to your gestures. :-)

We draw a letter or a shape and it launches the associated command.

For those who know the mouse shortcuts in Opera, the principle is the same, but extended to all Windows (yes, Windows only).

At home, it's my right mouse button to awake StrokeIt, by maintaining this button and moving the mouse a line appears, like in a drawing software. When I release the button, StrokeIt analyses the drawn shape and execute the action.

A few examples of my configuration:

  • F launches Firefox, O Opera, E the e-mail,
  • a line to the top then left goes on the previous tab, to the right it's the next tab (or next window like Alt+Tab if no tabs)
  • a line to left or right = previous or next page (or message in Thunderbird),
  • a diagonal line in the direction of Start menu minimizes all windows,
  • in the other direction it maximizes all,
  • Q = quit, S = save, I = new tab, H = history,
  • D, N, R go on sites I often visit,
  • etc...

You will say it's a lot to remember, but you can still use the normal way and begin to learn 3 or 4 shortcuts, the others will come little upon little. And by chossing the firt letter of each command, this not to hard to remember.

I even say you will save memory: StrokeIt is for all programms, so a ^ in Firefox can make F11 to go in full screen, but can make Enter in MediaPlayerClassic to go in full screen too. So one mouse gesture to keep in mind instead of 2 keyboard shortcuts. ;-)

After a time of adaptation more or less long, the habits beeing hard to change, StrokeIt becomes quickly essential.

This little jewel is available on the StrokeIt website.


The most unpleasing part is of course the first configuration. Shortcuts are configured by default, but the applications evolved since StrokeIt released, and some configured applications doesn't exist anymore today!

I often add a gigantic "on screen display" of the command name to confirm the validation of my gesture, with diffrent colors depending on the application.

I apologize I can't translate my screenshots as I don't have an english version of Windows! An example here with a B, which launches the notepad (bloc-note in french) and a display as soon as I release the button:


More precisely, to have a quick look (and maybe help you in your configuration) here are screenshots of my preferences:

This is the default settings, in english this time:

StrokeIt can learn new gestures in addition of all the symbols it knows by default. but there are enough gestures and unless you always perfectly draw your shapes, the dialog box to learn gestures is quickly boring. So the checkbox "Always prompt to learn unrecognized commands" should be unchecked.

"Only enable StrokeIt in configured applications" is particularily useful for gamers who may prefer to include applications to use instead of excluding all their games past and future. ;-)

The movement cancel itself if we don't move for X milliseconds, that allows to normaly use the move with the right button (the click is not affected anyway).


StrokeIt does not take a lot of memory: near 250kb in idle (i.e. 0,25Mb i.e. 100 times less than the Windows file explorer), 800kb at maximum after a monstrous gesture. :D But we can still reduce it by desactivating the functions we don't need.

I know the start can be unpleasing, but weeks after weeks (then months, and years like me!) StrokeIt replace more and more commands I used to do with keyboard or click. When I use another computer, I'm always surprised to not see a line appearing under the right click, and to must hit 3 clicks to obtain the same result!

Moreover, StrokeIt has another advantage: it impresses all the people who see me using my PC. :mrgreen:

Last but not least: StrokeIt is free. :-)

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