How to Be a Power User

“Gnome’s ‘users are idiots, and they are confused by functionality’ mentality is a disease that must be eradicated. If you believe your users to be idiots, then only idiots will use your product. I don’t use Gnome because, in its quest to be as simple as possible, it has long since reached the point where it simply does not perform the functions that I require.” – Linus Torvalds, in the year 2005

Power users accomplish many times more in less time than normal users, and they do so in a more efficient manner. It is not necessary to have the most up-to-date and expensive equipment in order to work efficiently. Users who consume a large amount of power or resources are not considered to be power users. In the last decade, computer software with printed manuals has all but disappeared, and software has been designed to be as simple as possible in order to meet the needs of the masses. It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of networking or programming to be a power user!


1. Seriously consider using the command-line. You can still tweet, instant message, play mp3 (with mplayer), browse the web (with Lynx or Links2), p2p (amulecmd), torrent (rtorrent), image edit (ImageMagick), read feeds (raggle), chat (irssi), ofm (midnight commander), manage downloads (axel, wget) and everything else. Linux and BSD make it easy to use the command-line, whereas OS X and especially Windows don’t.

action Windows/DOS Windows Powershell,

Mac OS X, Linux, BSD etc.

list directory dir ls

clear console cls clear

copy file(s) copy cp

move file(s) move mv

delete file(s) del rm

create directory md mkdir

remove directory rd rm

change current directory cd cd

current directory cd, chdir pwd

search find grep

concatenate cat cat

permissions chmod chmod

display/output text echo echo

add user net user adduser

If you must use a GUI read on to the next step. But the efficiency advantages of the CLI are as follows.

If you need to move all folders ending with “photos” this is easy in the command line but difficult and slow in a GUI.

Command-line completion is also known as tab-completion and can speed things up.

Pipe command-line output into other commands if needed.

Shell aliases can be set in Linux.

2. Take, for example, a tiling window manager (TWM). A floating window manager is used by the vast majority of systems, which means that windows are not automatically aligned and can overlap one another. Using a tiling window manager may be beneficial if you spend a lot of time switching between windows and moving, resizing, maximising, minimising, and otherwise switching between them. A tile-based window manager (TWM) displays multiple windows on a single screen in a tile-like arrangement. The following is the manifesto for Ion, a dynamic tiling window manager with tabs for each frame that is described in more detail below.

“So-called “modern desktop environments” are increasingly unusable, and today’s mainstream graphical user interfaces in general are far less usable than they are lauded for being, according to the research. User-friendliness does not necessarily imply a low learning curve or the concealment of system details from the user, as the Official Truth appears to be these days.”

Key Tiling


Alt+k next tile

Alt+j previous tile

Alt+space switch layout

3. Get rid of the mouse. Make use of the keyboard. Key bindings for everything, including basic Windows operation and browsing, should be set up. Learn how to use the keyboard shortcuts. Get to know them and become familiar with them.

Key Operating system


Win+e Opens My Computer

in Windows Explorer

Win+f Find

Win+m Minimize all windows

Win+d Toggle minimize

all windows

Win+r Open run dialog

Ctrl+A Select all

Ctrl+B Bold

Ctrl+O Open

Ctrl+C Copy

Ctrl+X Cut

Ctrl+V Paste

Ctrl+Z Undo

Ctrl+PgUp Next tab

Ctrl+PgDn Previous tab

Alt-tab Switch open windows

Alt+F4 Quit app

Alt+F5 Restore window

Alt+F7 Move window

Alt+F8 Resize window

Alt+F9 Minimize window

Alt+F10 Maximize current window


Use application keyboard shortcuts (Vimperator[1] and other Firefox add-ons are useful for this).

Key Browser Function

Alt+left arrow Back

Alt+right arrow Forward

Alt+home Home

Ctrl+L Location/address bar

Ctrl+k Search bar

Ctrl+T New tab

Ctrl+W Close tab

Ctrl+PgUp Previous tab

Ctrl+PgDn Next tab

Ctrl+R Refresh

Ctrl+u View source

4. If you don’t want to completely abandon the mouse, you can make use of Mouse Gestures. Applications such as Strokeit (Windows), Opera (Cross platform), gMote (Windows), Easystroke (Linux), and Mouse Gestures Redox (Firefox) are all available for download.

5. Make scripts for yourself. Although you will not become a programmer, scripts will assist you in automating common repetitive tasks. Batch files are a type of file that can be found in Windows.

In order to copy photos until a certain number of megabytes is reached, you will need to write a script to do so.

Make use of scripts in your browser. Greasemonkey, iMacros, and Chickenfoot are just a few of the extensions available for Firefox. Javascript can be used by the user in Opera.

6. Make use of a traditional file manager (OFM). Midnight Commander, also known as Commander-like, is a command-line application designed for command-line users. Alternately, you can use something like Directory Opus, so long as you do not use a basic (often bundled) file manager like Windows Explorer. Key bindings are important once again, so familiarise yourself with the keyboard shortcuts.

Key OFM Function

F1 help

F2 user menu/scripting

F3 view

F4 edit

F5 copy

F6 move

F7 new directory

F8 delete

F9 top menu

F10 quit

7. Turn off any eye-candy that might slow you down.

In Windows, right-click My Computer, Properties, Advanced, under Performance click Settings, then Adjust for Best Performance.

In KDE 4+, press Alt+F3, then Configure Window Behaviour, then Desktop Effects then uncheck Enable Desktop Effects.

8. Select software that is appropriate for your needs. Unless you have made a conscious decision to do so, do not simply use the bundled software because it is included.

Choose a web browser, and don’t just use the one that comes with your operating system because it’s included.

Organize your audio and images with appropriate software designed for this purpose.

When a good plain text editor will suffice, don’t bother with a word processor. Regular Expressions should be used. Plain text should be used in situations where formatting is not required.

Asterisk * matches any number of what’s before it, from zero to infinity.

? matches zero or one.

+ matches one or more.

For chatrooms use IRC. For forums use Usenet.

9. For tasks that must be completed on a regular basis, use a job scheduler. Use Task Manager in Windows, Launchd in Mac OS X, and cron/anacron in Linux/BSD to automate tasks.

10. Word processing power users can format documents with styles (or even Latex) if they know what they’re doing.

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