Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to enhance your productivity. The benefits are compounded the more you use a program like Gmail. The problem is learning them and committing them to memory. In the case of Gmail, there are quite a few and some don’t seem intuitive to me. For example, why is the # key used to delete an email? To me, D would make more sense but it’s used to compose email in a new tab. This is why I was excited when TinyCards announced they were now on the Android platform. I decided to see if I could build lessons using their learning platform which works on the web, iOS, and Android. And did I tell you it’s free?
What are TinyCards?
You can think of TinyCards as an upgraded version of flashcards. Instead of using 3×5 index cards, you have an online deck comprised of lessons. Each lesson has a number of cards. This service is an offshoot of the wildly popular language learning service called DuoLingo. Although it doesn’t have the same feature set, it’s more than adequate to learn keyboard shortcuts.
Unlike older flash card systems, these newer ones use a series of quizzes with spaced repetitions to help you learn more efficiently. For example, if you keep getting a card wrong, TinyCards will present that card with greater frequency until it thinks you’ve understood it. Kind of like my parents used to do but without the drama. In addition, you can’t unlock the next lesson until you’ve completed the prior one.
Learn Wherever You Are
As most readers know, I’m a life-long learner. There’s always something new to excite and challenge me. However, a key issue is whether I can learn regardless of location. The benefit to TinyCards is they can work on my desktop, tablet, and smartphone. The system seamlessly synchronizes between my devices and knows where I stopped. Oh yeah, it also remembers my problem cards. The layout does change based on my viewing device, but the content and context remain the same.
Desktop Card and Answer Examples
Using my Chrome browser, this is how a new card shows.
- Card content such as the Gmail task
- Clicking the card or spacebar shows the Gmail keyboard shortcut
- Allows you to continue to Next card
- Allows you to Hide a card
- Allows you to mark the answer as incorrect (my error)
After you’ve seen both sides of the card, you’ll see it appear in your quiz queue. The newer cards will show more frequently.
- Lesson progress bar
- Card question
- Possible answers
With the desktop example, you could also use the numeric keys above the possible answers to make your selection.
SmartPhone Example Question
The smartphone version is very similar. The layout differs because of the device width. In addition, the numeric options are removed as the user would be touching the screen to make a selection.
First Version and Deck Notes
While I was elated to try out TinyCards, the process of building a deck is not as intuitive as I would like. For example, I was hoping I could organize the lessons and provide more context. That doesn’t seem possible in this version although you can with DuoLingo. It could also be the functionality is there, but I failed to find the documentation.
If you’re looking for the “ultimate” Gmail keyboard shortcut guide, you won’t find it here. I did not include all the keyboard shortcuts I found. Because of the way TinyCards divides lessons, I would probably create multiple decks instead. There were also some keyboard commands that seemed to be obscure. Others required you to have hands the size of Andre the Giant and the dexterity of David Copperfield.
I debated about the best way to show the keyboard commands. I’ve found that using examples such as Shift + K still confuses people as they want to type the + sign. That’s why I opted to create graphic keyboard representations. The downside is some of the single character answers are harder to read on the desktop. Overall, I found TinyCards helped me to learn the keyboard shortcuts.
As always, I’m open to your suggestions.
Resource: Gmail Shortcuts TinyCards Deck
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