I’m always looking for apps to make things easier and make my workflow run more smoothly. Especially when I’m repeatedly opening the same document or the same website, over and over again, I want to make what I’m doing less of a chore. I stick things on my Dock or in my bookmarks bar, but then I just end up with a lot of clutter. What I need is workflow help that goes unseen until I really need it.
RocketShip may be the app I’ve been looking for. It allows users to create shortcuts to just about anything, including applications and URLs. Instead of clicking an icon in your Dock or on your menubar, you get there by typing a keystroke you created yourself. Can RocketShip save me the time, and most of all the stopping and starting, of switching among applications and websites all day?
RocketShip is easy to setup the first time out. Click the RocketShip menubar icon and choose Shortcuts from the menu. To create a new shortcut, click the plus sign in the list on the lefthand side. Changing the name of the shortcut is simple enough; just double click on its title and change it to whatever you’d like.
To actually make it do something, though, that’s the real trick. Click the dropdown menu to the right, and choose an action. Most of mine seem to be Launch Application or Open Website, but you can open files or folders, run scripts, and more. Once you’ve chosen your action, tap the arrow to the right. That lets you browse for the thing you’re going to do. Select the application, folder, file, or if you’re opening a website, enter the URL.
It’s worth noting that when you enter a URL, RocketShip can get a bit feisty. You have to right-click to paste a URL, not Command+V here. Also, every time I added an HTTPS site, RocketShip couldn’t handle it. It would create the URL as https://https://url.com, and I’d get a 404 error. My solution was to add the site as url.com, as I have a browser extension that forces HTTPS wherever possible. It will still be an issue for people who don’t use an extension like that or just happen to add an HTTPS URL without realizing it, as I did again and again.
Assigning Your Shortcuts
After deciding what you want your shortcut to do, you need to choose a shortcut keystroke. You really have limited choices here, but that sort of makes them easier to remember. You can make it Option+KEY, Command+KEY, or Option+Command+KEY. To choose whether you want to use Option or Command or both, select or deselect them above the dropdown menu. Click the huge button and then tap a key on your keyboard to complete the shortcut keystroke.
Unfortunately, those really are your only options. No Control, Shift, or Fn here. You also can’t combine other keys. For instance, if you want to open your Dropbox folder, Option+D+B isn’t going to get the job done.
The real drawback is that so many shortcuts are already assigned. Command+C can’t be my shortcut to Calendar because it’s going to fight for its right to copy. I ended up just making all of my shortcuts Option+Command+KEY because I was a lot less likely to run into a conflict, though it did happen when I chose Option+Command+D. I didn’t know what was happening, other than my desktop seemed to be going berserk, until I realized that’s also the shortcut to toggle Dock hiding on and off.
Whenever you use a RocketShip shortcut, you’ll see the keystroke displayed across a charcoal banner on the bottom left of your screen. It’s a great indication that RocketShip heard you loud and clear and is processing whatever your command was. You can turn this off, however, in the Preferences, available from the dropdown in the menubar icon.
Preferences also allows you to turn all of your shortcuts on or off with a single click without closing the application. If you find you’re having a lot of overlap with other system shortcuts or you’re handing your Mac over to a friend who may not be expecting the array of commands her fingers will unleash, it’s probably a good idea to toggle those off.
RocketShip is a really simple little app that let’s you make some pretty simple customizations you may have been looking for. If you’re always going for the same few applications, files, or websites, you might want to put those at your fingertips with just a keystroke.
However, the customization is limited. There are similar apps that allow you to choose from an array of shortcuts, pulling you outside the Option and Command kiddie pool. There are also much more powerful launcher apps that let you do a whole lot more than RocketShip is built for.
That said, not everyone needs all the bells and whistles. There’s no learning curve with RocketShip, while you can easily get lost in a more complicated application. Just open up RocketShip and start creating your shortcuts. There’s not anything else to do, and with the ability to launch scripts, the sky really is the limit. Just be careful your shortcuts don’t overlap, or you may be in for some trouble!