StrokesPlus is a mouse gesture recognition program that allows you to perform frequently used or repetitive tasks by simply drawing a gesture with your mouse or performing mouse and/or keyboard modifiers to fire off an action sequence.
It’s is a great little freeware program that’s loaded with different options, like adding keyboard modifiers and even automating full ‘macro’ sequences. The interface is easy and non-intrusive and there is a masterful ‘help’ page that will lead you through the process of learning how to use StrokesPlus.
If you’ve ever had to perform the same task or action again and again on your computer you’ve probably gotten bored, frustrated, or even carpal tunnel syndrome. In the earliest days, someone came up with the brilliant notion of using keyboard shortcuts for these kinds of tasks.
The CTRL+V to paste or CTRL+C to copy shortcuts are excellent examples. You simply select whatever you want to copy, press CTRL+C and the data is now in your buffer (or clipboard) and it can be pasted anywhere you want with CTRL+V. These shortcuts made life much easier for those who are afflicted with repetitive tasks on a regular basis, but eventually even those shortcuts may seem to slow or cumbersome.
StrokesPlus takes the concept of shortcuts to the next level, by replacing and adding to the keyboard shortcuts with mouse gestures. That’s right! I said mouse gestures! Instead of pressing CTRL+C to copy something, you can just use the mouse to draw a letter “C” on your screen with the mouse and it activates the copy function. Similarly, you can assign nearly any common function to a wide variety of symbols or “strokes”, as they are called. In addition to the strokes that are pre-loaded into the program, you can also create your own strokes by using the Training Mode to have the computer record and recognize your unique gestures in the future.
But how does the computer know when to recognize gestures and when you’re just using the mouse normally? To activate the StrokesPlus recognition, you’ll press what is called the “stroke key” and then make your gesture. The stroke key can be assigned in the settings menu of the program as nearly any key on the keyboard or the mouse. For mouse buttons, you’ll need to hold the button down, but if you choose a keyboard button you’ll only need to press and release it. Either way, the computer will recognize the gestures you make and show them to you as a colored line on the screen while you’re drawing it. This lets you see exactly what symbol you’re drawing so you know you’re getting it right.
Besides the stroke key, you can also add modifier keys to any of the functions StrokesPlus has stored. For example, if you want to assign a keyboard + mouse combo, say CTRL + RMB, to activate a specific gesture , you can do that. This means that you can set up nearly infinite amounts of gestures, as you can draw a letter “C” with just the RMB to copy and then do the same gesture but hold down the CTRL key at the same time and it will paste. That’s just one example, but you can see the potential. As if all that wasn’t enough in the way of customization options, you can even create ‘macros’ that will execute a series of functions or commands, with a single gesture. For instance, you can set up the CTRL + SHIFT + RMB and stroke the letter C to activate a macro that copies, switches windows, and pastes the content all with that single gesture. Again, the imagination and necessity are the only real limits here, for all intents and purposes.
Creating macros, learning to train your own gestures, setting up modifiers, all of this sounds really technical and in-depth, you say? Well, it certainly is true that it’s a bit complex it is also true that StrokesPlus comes with a well-written, easy to follow Help Guide that will have the answers you need. Personally, I recommend reading through the Help Guide at least once before starting to mess around with any of the settings or custom options on StrokesPlus. Using the basic strokes that are built in is pretty simple but the Help Guide is going to be the resource you need and use most when exploring the more advanced features and functions of this great little piece of freeware.
This program has the potential to make the life of anyone who has to perform repetitive tasks much easier and even faster. I’d even recommend it to anyone who is just interested in seeing what they can do with it, as it’s actually a fun program to use as well. Until next time, my friends!
Get StrokesPlus for Windows here.