A Modest Usability Proposal: double tap keystrokes

As I painfully deleted the trailing part of a URL for perhaps the ten thousandth time in my life … heck, hundred-thousandth … it occurred to me that there ought to be a simple keystroke for deleting to the previous obvious separator. In text editors there are typically all kinds of shortcuts for doing things like extending a selection to the end of a word, or deleting a line, but these tend to be inconsistent between programs (and thus very hard to commit to muscle memory) and highly domain-specific. What I’d like is to be able to tap delete (on a Mac — i.e. backspace) twice quickly to delete to the next logical separator. In a word-processor this would be a space or punctuation mark, in a url this would be a ? or slash.

While double-clicking is a well-used convention in UIs these days, double-tapping keys is not used at all, despite the fact that holding down a key for repeating keystrokes (which was an electric typewriter convention) is pretty much gone — so it’s “unused real estate” in a sense. There are all kinds of obvious uses for double keystrokes. E.g. differentiating return (I want a new paragraph) with return (I’m done — often enter, but often not. E.g. in several Mac programs it’s command-return).

I’d only suggest double-tap be used carefully. E.g. overloading double-tap “o” would cause a lot of grief, e.g. when touch-typing “too”. Overloading double-tap return is dangerous unless the overload does what you expect it to (e.g. explicitly create a new paragraph in a word-processing context).

Well, it’s an idea. Now why did I log into WordPress?