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Learning keyboard shortcuts with active recall and spaced repetition

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With browser apps, keyboard shortcuts are an alternative the reliance on the mouse and menus. Forum discussion of Ian Small's plans for Evernote would suggest that many lost features will not be coming back. Evernote 10 does not adequately support keyboard shortcuts but this should change. Would Evernote 10 be usable with good keyboard shortcuts? RemNote suggests it might be. 

Learning keyboard shortcuts requires you to learn arbitrary associations. Approached a specific way, learning 65 shortcuts over a week and required 30 minutes a day.

What is RemNote?

RemNote is a note taking app. The user interface is different for it is not designed for the mouse but controlled from the keyboard either through commands after typing the character "/" fast but best with keyboards shortcuts.

Many shortcuts

Over 65 commonly used keyboard shortcuts which are a combination of the special keys and characters. The easiest keyboard shortcuts are already assigned to the operating system, followed by the browser. Both Edge and Chrome have similar shortcuts. This leaves a browser app such as RemNote with many awkward shortcuts.

Active recall, sequenced learning and spaced repetition

Keyboard shortcuts steepen the learning curve but it can be flattened again with using the right approach. 

  • active recall - we remember things better by testing our memory
  • sequenced learning - starting from the simple and then add complexity
  • spaced repetition - long term retention of rarely used commands are best ensured through intermittent testing over longer periods

Analysis of the keyboard shortcuts

Ranked from least common to most common:

  1. Ctrl + Shift + Alt - 7 commands
  2. Ctrl + Alt - 7 commands
  3. Alt only - 9 commands
  4. Ctrl only - 17 commands
  5. Ctrl + Shift - 18 commands

The learning sequence

The learning sequence starts with the shortlist first Ctrl + Shift + Alt and progressively add later lists each day. Accumulatively lists that test, each day, what has been learnt previously:

  1. List 1: ctrl-shift-alt, ctrl-alt - 14 commands  
  2. List 2: ctrl-shift-alt, ctrl-alt, alt only - 23 commands
  3. List 3: ctrl-shift-alt, ctrl-alt, alt only, ctrl only  - 40 commands
  4. List 4: ctrl-shift-alt, ctrl-alt, alt only, ctrl only, ctrl-shift  - 58 commands
  5. Complete list of all shortcuts: - 65 commands.


Learning all the keyboard shortcuts takes about a week. Some of the keyboard shortcuts are similar or the same as Microsoft Office. Many shortcuts are, however, specific to RemNote. Learning all the shortcuts takes about a week. They will be forgotten again if not used regularly. Intermittent revision of the complete list is required to retain all shortcuts and maintain fluency.

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8 hours ago, Tamagotchi said:

Learning all the keyboard shortcuts takes about a week.

I don't need to learn the entire set of shortcuts; just the shortcuts I frequently use   
My learning method is repetition (from frequent use) 🙂

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