Publication: Promoting Hotkey Use through Rehearsal with ExposeHK

Keyboard shortcuts allow fast interaction, but they are known to be infrequently used, with most users relying heavily on traditional pointer-based selection for most commands. We describe the goals, design, and evaluation of ExposeHK, a new interface mechanism that aims to increase hotkey use. ExposeHK's four key design goals are: 1) enable users to browse hotkeys; 2) allow non-expert users to issue hotkey commands as a physical rehearsal of expert performance; 3) exploit spatial memory to assist non-expert users in identifying hotkeys; and 4) maximise expert performance by using consistent shortcuts in a flat command hierarchy. ExposeHK supports these objectives by displaying hotkeys overlaid on their associated commands when a modifier key is pressed. We evaluated ExposeHK in three empirical studies using toolbars, menus, and a tabbed 'ribbon' toolbar. Results show that participants used more hotkeys, and used them more often, with ExposeHK than with other techniques; they were faster with ExposeHK than with either pointing or other hotkey methods; and they strongly preferred ExposeHK. Our research shows that ExposeHK can substantially improve the user's transition from a 'beginner mode' of interaction to a higher level of expertise.




Sylvain Malacria G. Bailly
J. Harrison Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Malacria, S., Bailly, G., Harrison, J., Cockburn, A., Gutwin, C. 2013. Promoting Hotkey Use through Rehearsal with ExposeHK. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2013), ISBN 978-1-4503-1899-0. 573-582.


@inbook {442-promoting-hotkey-use,
author= {Sylvain Malacria and G. Bailly and J. Harrison and Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Promoting Hotkey Use through Rehearsal with ExposeHK},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2013)},
year= {2013},
pages= {573-582}