April 12

How you can get faster with Office shortcuts by Max Eskell

A key tool in the consultant’s toolkit is Microsoft Office.  Whether it be Excel for data analysis, PowerPoint for presentations, or Word for report writing, Office is the ‘go to’ tool for the majority of consultants and clients.  Getting 10% more efficient at using Office, could easily save you hours each week.  Avoiding using the mouse and using shortcut keys could rapidly improve your efficiency.

Bottom line up front 

Over the last three months, I have tried three solutions to get me using the Office shortcuts instead of my mouse.  The Key Rocket software is my chosen solution to getting more efficient with Office.  I have paid the extra to get the full version, and I feel that it is worth the investment.   Please read on below, for more detail.



Excel keyboard stickers (score 5 out of 10)

While there are keyboard ‘skins’ available for some Macs, if you have a laptop not made by Apple then you are resigned to sticking on stickers to each individual key (see below).


I loved the Mac excel skin.  It not only protected my keyboard, but it gave me easy access to the shortcuts.  However, the stickers are not as good.  While they are more usable than cheat sheets, they do have some drawbacks.

  1. While there are similar shortcuts, there are key shortcuts from PowerPoint and Outlook that are missing
  2. You need to look at your keyboard to read the stickers
  3. They take time to stick on (especially if you have OCD!) and to get off

These drawbacks are not considerable, and it is a cheaper alternative to the premium version of Key Rocket, which is why I have scored keyboard stickers as 5 out of 10.

Key Rocket (score 8 out of 10)

Key Rocket is a software programme which tracks what your mouse is doing.  When it senses that you are doing something that there is a shortcut for, for example bolding text (see below), you get a little pop-up which tells you which shortcut you should be using instead.


Key Rocket screen capture


I love this software.  Key Rocket has considerable advantages over the other solutions I tested.

  1. It is easy.  You do not have to stick stickers on your keys or carry around with you a sheet of paper
  2. It reinforces good behaviour.  There is a reminder every time you should be using a shortcut and rewards you when you have used a shortcut
  3. It’s free (sort of). There is a free trial version

However, there are a few disadvantages.

  1. The premium version costs money (a lot of money – £79 a year)
  2. The pop-ups can get annoying after a while

Key Rockets advantages considerably outweigh the disadvantages, which is why I have scored it an 8 out of 10 (it would have got higher if the price was more reasonable).

Cheat sheets or Excel shortcut print outs (score 2 out of 10)

When we all had our own desks you could tape guides to your desk, or even put them under some plexiglass.  Now, with flexible workspaces and in a client-serving industry I am rarely at the same desk twice.  This highlights the largest disadvantage to printed cheat sheets, they are cumbersome and most cheat sheets do not fit all shortcuts onto one page.  As a result, I found that I rarely used the cheat sheet, which I why I gave them a low score of 2 out of 10.  You can find a good example of shortcut guides from NASA at the link below.

NASA shortcut guide