There are two types of computer users – those who navigate their machine primarily using keyboard shortcuts, and those of us who rarely move our hand off our mouse or trackpad. Pros and cons for can be made for both methods, but if you’re a mouse user, you get to pick from several powerful utilities designed to make clicking and hand gestures go way beyond Apple’s default settings and features.
I previously wrote about what I consider to be the quintessential trackpad/mousepad program which is called BetterTouchTool. It gives you hundreds of options for hand navigating your Mac and applications. Now another handy tool, named SwiftRing, saves you the trouble of constantly accessing items in the menu bar when you want to, for example, closing a window, starting a new document, or pausing and playing iTunes. SwiftRing puts selected menu items right under your cursor.
How It Works
After you install SwiftRing, you can press the Option key on your keyboard and in less than a second a circular menu will pop-up allowing to select with your mouse one of the menu items pre-assigned to an application.
So if you’re in Safari, you can activate SwiftRing to open a new window or close it. This is especially useful if you’re working on a Mac with a large screen or a couple of monitors where the menu bar seems to be a block away from where your cursor is resting.
You can also use the navigation wheel on your mouse to activate a subsegment of a SwiftRing setup, which means you are not limited to just four menu options. In addition, you can just touch a segment on the ring to activate it, saving you the trouble of more clicking. If you use a trackpad, you can gesture to the right or left, or up or down toward the segment of a ring to activate the menu item.
The power of SwiftRing is that it can be customized for different applications, which is a feature sorely lacking in Apple’s default mouse and trackpad capabilities. The application includes built-in support for Safari and iTunes, and there’s a Default ring for common actions that work in any unassigned application.
By the way, if you use the Option key a lot like I do to quickly drag and duplicate a file, you might want to change the launch method for SwiftRing.
The developers of SwiftRing understood that Mac users would want to create custom segments for their most used applications. As you might expect, you can add controls in SwiftRing’s Preference window.
Clicking on existing Rings for iTunes and Tabs will give you an idea how to create your own sets. To do so, simply click the + button and give the Ring a name.
Next click on a corresponding application in the Ring Settings and then double-click on a Keyboard Sequence to add or change a keyboard shortcut in the pop-up Recording window. If you make a mistake, you will need to click the Done button and start over.
You might for example change the Key Sequence for quitting an application, particularly until you get used to using SwiftRing. Several times during my test I inadvertently closed or quit an application by moving my hand the wrong way on my trackpad.
SwiftRing also includes a slider for adding or reducing the number of segments for an application or set.
The key to using an application like this is figuring out what menu shortcuts you use regularly and setting them up in SwiftRing.
SwiftRing requires OS X version 10.5 or later. You must enable access for assistive devices on your Mac to use the application. All of that is explained on the front page of SwiftRing.
SwiftRing is in beta development. I experienced a few crashes while trying to add segments, and I found it annoying that the Preferences automatically closes when you save a segment or click to another application. It would be useful if the Preference window would stay open so you can quickly test a sequence and come back and make adjustments.
Let us know what you think of SwiftRing. If you like it, the developer will gladly accept a $5.00 donation to support his work.