“This ‘users are idiots, and are confused by functionality’ mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don’t use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn’t do what I need it to do.” – Linus Torvalds, 2005

Power users accomplish many times what normal users accomplish more efficiently in less time. You don’t have to have the latest most expensive equipment to work efficiently. Power user does not refer to users who consume lots of power or resources. It is only in the last decade that computer software with printed manuals have all but disappeared, and software has been designed to be as simple as possible. Knowledge of networking or programming is not necessary to be a power user!


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    Seriously consider using the command-line. You can still tweet, instant message, play mp3 (with mplayer), browse the web (with Lynx or Links2), p2p (amulecmd), torrent (rtorrent), image edit (ImageMagick), read feeds (raggle), chat (irssi), ofm (midnight commander), manage downloads (axel, wget) and everything else. Linux and BSD make it easy to use the command-line, whereas OS X and especially Windows don’t.

    action Windows/DOS Windows Powershell,
    Mac OS X, Linux, BSD etc.
    list directory dir ls
    clear console cls clear
    copy file(s) copy cp
    move file(s) move mv
    delete file(s) del rm
    create directory md mkdir
    remove directory rd rm
    change current directory cd cd
    current directory cd, chdir pwd
    search find grep
    concatenate cat cat
    permissions chmod chmod
    display/output text echo echo
    add user net user adduser

    If you must use a GUI read on to the next step. But the efficiency advantages of the CLI are as follows.

    • If you need to move all folders ending with “photos” this is easy in the command line but difficult and slow in a GUI.
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    • Command-line completion is also known as tab-completion and can speed things up.
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    • Pipe command-line output into other commands if needed.
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    • Shell aliases can be set in Linux.
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    Consider a tiling window manager (TWM). Most systems use floating window managers where windows aren’t automatically aligned and can overlap one another. If you spend a lot of time moving, resizing, maximizing, minimizing, restoring and generally switching windows then a tiling window manager might be for you. A TWM presents multiple windows on one screen aligned in a tile formation. The following is the manifesto of Ion, a dynamic tiling window manager with tabs for each frame.

    “So-called “modern desktop environments” converge on total unusability, and present-day mainstream graphical user interfaces in general are far less usable than they are praised to be. Usability simply does not equal low learning curve, and hiding system details from the user, as the Official Truth seems to be these days.”

    Key Tiling
    Alt+k next tile
    Alt+j previous tile
    Alt+space switch layout
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    Ditch the mouse. Use the keyboard. Set up key bindings for everything, basic windows operation and browsing . Learn the key bindings. Familiarize yourself with them.

    Key Operating system
    Win+e Opens My Computer
    in Windows Explorer
    Win+f Find
    Win+m Minimize all windows
    Win+d Toggle minimize
    all windows
    Win+r Open run dialog
    Ctrl+A Select all
    Ctrl+B Bold
    Ctrl+O Open
    Ctrl+C Copy
    Ctrl+X Cut
    Ctrl+V Paste
    Ctrl+Z Undo
    Ctrl+PgUp Next tab
    Ctrl+PgDn Previous tab
    Alt-tab Switch open windows
    Alt+F4 Quit app
    Alt+F5 Restore window
    Alt+F7 Move window
    Alt+F8 Resize window
    Alt+F9 Minimize window
    Alt+F10 Maximize current window


    • Use application keyboard shortcuts (Vimperator[1] and other Firefox add-ons are useful for this).
      Key Browser Function
      Alt+left arrow Back
      Alt+right arrow Forward
      Alt+home Home
      Ctrl+L Location/address bar
      Ctrl+k Search bar
      Ctrl+T New tab
      Ctrl+W Close tab
      Ctrl+PgUp Previous tab
      Ctrl+PgDn Next tab
      Ctrl+R Refresh
      Ctrl+u View source
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    If you don’t want to ditch the mouse totally, Use Mouse Gestures. Strokeit (Windows), Opera (Cross platform), gMote (Windows), Easystroke (Linux), Mouse Gestures Redox (Firefox) are all applications.
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    Write scripts. You won’t become a programmer, but scripts help to automate common repetitive tasks. In Windows they’re sometimes called batch files.

    • If you need to copy photos until you reach a certain number of megabytes, a script is needed.
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    • Use browser scripts. Greasemonkey, iMacros and Chickenfoot are some on Firefox. Opera supports user javascript.
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    Use an Orthodox File Manager (OFM). Also known as Commander-like, Midnight Commander is one for command-line users. Alternatively use something like Directory Opus, as long as you don’t use a basic (usually bundled) file manager. Again, it is all about key bindings, so learn the keyboard shortcuts.

    Key OFM Function
    F1 help
    F2 user menu/scripting
    F3 view
    F4 edit
    F5 copy
    F6 move
    F7 new directory
    F8 delete
    F9 top menu
    F10 quit
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    Turn off any eye-candy that might slow you down.

    • In Windows, right-click My Computer, PropertiesAdvanced, under Performanceclick Settings, then Adjust for Best Performance.
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    • In KDE 4+, press Alt+F3, then Configure Window Behaviour, then Desktop Effectsthen uncheck Enable Desktop Effects.
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    Choose appropriate software. Don’t just use the bundled software just because it’s bundled, unless it’s a conscious decision.

    • Choose a web browser, don’t just use the bundled one because it’s bundled.
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    • Organize your audio and images with appropriate software designed for this purpose.
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    • Don’t use a word-processor where a decent plain text editor will do. Use Regular Expressions[2]. Where you don’t need to format documents, use plain text.
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      • Asterisk * matches any number of what’s before it, from zero to infinity.
      • ? matches zero or one.
      • + matches one or more.
    • For chatrooms use IRC. For forums use Usenet.
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    Use a job scheduler for regular tasks. In Windows use Task Manager, in Mac OS X use Launchd, in Linux/BSD use cron/anacron.
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    Power users in word processing use styles (or even Latex) for formatting documents.