Review: TouchCursor

Posted December 28th, 2006 by kyle

As an avid keyboarder, one thing that has always slowed me down is having to move my hands to reach for the navigation keys (arrow keys, home, end, page up/down, etc.). Methods to reduce the problem are available (for instance, space bar scrolling in browsers, special navigation modes in editors like vi/vim, etc.), but they are all application-specific. I’ve always wished for a vim-style navigation capability that worked everywhere in Windows.

Rare Pebble Software has created an ingenious solution to this problem: TouchCursor is a simple Windows application that turns your Space bar into another shift-state key, allowing you to combine it with home row keys for navigation and other common keystrokes.

For instance, by default Space+J is bound to left arrow, Space+L to right arrow, Space+K to down, Space+I to up, etc. Regular shift states (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Win) can be combined with Space to type almost any combination from the home row. It sounds a bit odd, but it works surprisingly well. Note that it does work differently than a separate mode (ala vim).

The key bindings can be customized as desired. I like the defaults that are provided for the right hand, and I’ve also added bindings for other hard-to-reach keys like Esc and the function keys. Now my hands hardly ever need to leave their home positions.

A training mode is provided, and it only takes a few days to get into the habit of using the TouchCursor key combinations. TouchCursor is also a boon for use on laptops, which tend to have funky layouts for the navigation keys.

It even works inside Remote Desktop sessions and guest virtual machines (Virtual PC and VMware) without having to install it on the remote/guest systems!

Once you start using it, you’ll never want to use a computer where it isn’t installed, and TouchCursor can run from a USB drive, making it easy to take it wherever you go. If you want to become more efficient at the keyboard, TouchCursor will be a welcome addition to your system.

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2 Comments on “Review: TouchCursor”

  1. hieonn Says:

    I’ve been trying to find bind alt key as the activation key. Could you let me know if you know? Thanks in advance.

  2. kyle Says:

    You can’t. The space bar is the activation key for TouchCursor.