I wanted to work faster in Aperture 1.5 and realized that I needed to stop being the mousy navigator that I am and begin learning more keyboard shortcuts. I mean, really, mousing to the Adjustment HUD five or six times a session is just ridiculous.

Plus, I'm constantly being exposed to new tricks at the keyboard. For example, I just discovered this morning that Shift+Option+9 will delete keywords from image files. Now that's a revelation for me, because I no longer have to open the keyboard HUD to accomplish this task.

If you open up the Quick Reference Guide that comes installed with Aperture 1.5, you'll discover that there are nearly 150 key controls for Aperture, plus others that are not documented. This may not be as many key controls as found in Photoshop, but it's still significant, especially if you have difficulty remembering key controls in general.

So when I came across LogicKeyboard's Apple Pro Keyboard for Aperture ($99 US), I thought I'd give it a try. I didn't expect it to turn me into an Aperture keyboard wiz kid overnight, but I hoped it would help and motivate me to use the keyboard controls a lot more. And after spending a couple of days with the keyboard hooked up to my PowerBook G4, I can indeed say it's a useful tool.


LogicKeyboard's Apple Pro Keyboard for Aperture



Pros and Cons of Keyboard


Pros:
  • Helpful for quick recognition of certain key controls
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Many of the key controls are well illustrated
Cons:
  • Needs better documentation
  • Would benefit from more widely varied colored keys


Hands On

What makes this customized keyboard special is that it provides a graphic presentation of Aperture's major keyboard shortcuts. The keys range from white, to grey, to darker grey. Some keys illustrate what they represent. There's, for example, a red X for the all important Reject key (number 9) for photos that are so bad you don't even want to rate them.

Then there are keys that reflect each of the 1-5 rating numbers in Aperture. The Red Eye, Loupe, Crop, Primary Select and the Patch tool are among the keys that get their own illustration, as do the rotation keys.

Some of the keys are easy to commit to memory, such as the F key for Full screen viewing or the A key for applying adjustments. Other easy ones include the I key for the Tool Inspector, and the T key for Tooltips, the C for Crop, the E for the Red Eye tool, and R for Rotation—these are fairly easy to remember. But there are dozens of other keys and combinations that are less obvious, and I found the Aperture keyboard helpful for those.

Now in terms of the shortcut symbols on the keyboard being easy to recognize, well, that depends on your familiarity with the program. Only a few keys indicate which Command, Option, or Shift-key modification you need to activate for certain controls. I'm not sure if that would be possible for all the key controls, but I found it helpful when the modification key was indicated with combination key controls.

The design of the Aperture keyboard is exactly like Apple's desktop keyboard. It's very durable, fairly quiet when typing, and lightweight for transport if need be. Personally though, I would have liked more varied colors for certain keys, which might lead to quicker recognition of certain key controls.

In addition, if there's some type of logic for the coloring system they use for the Aperture keyboard, I haven't figured it out. More documentation would be useful in this area.

Final Thoughts

I wouldn't say that this LogicKeyboard is a dire necessity, but it is very helpful for working faster in Aperture. It's sort of like having pilot control keys to help you navigate your workflow better.

You can either pay $99 for the keyboard itself or you can pay $59 for a set of keycaps and apply them to your existing Apple keyboard. However, I have read some complaints that the keycaps don't conform to some international keyboards, so check the site or email the company to make sure the keycaps conform to your setup.



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