Personal opinion on Asana's keyboard shortcuts


#1

Asana is a great tool for my team, me included, but it really falls short for power users in a few points. One of them is keyboard control (I don’t use the mouse if I don’t have to).

I am very displeased about the choice of keyboard shortcuts in Asana. There are a few problems I want to highlight, in order of personal importance:

  • Tab is not a modifier key. It was never created as one. There is three things I would accept for its functionality in a website or application – shortcuts is not one of them. It may insert a tab character (\t), OR indent the current selection/line, OR jump to the next input field / button. I just can’t get used to it, and frankly, I don’t want to.
  • Some shortcuts use Tab, others Ctrl. I can’t get into my head which are which. Please choose one and be consistent. I’d go for Ctrl+Alt because that’s apparently best supported by browsers. Maybe add Ctrl+{B,U,I} for formatting as aliases, but that’s about it.
  • Do not require shortcuts for certain options, since they are not accessible and not compatible with every device (my Linux X11 keyboard layout apparently interferes with Ctrl+Shift+7/8 for lists). There should be fallback UI in these cases.
  • Power user/readonly mode: enable HJKL navigation everywhere, not just in the Inbox (thanks for thinking of it there!), and have the user switch to edit mode (e.g. Return, or double click for mouse users – maybe even Tab, since that’s gonna be free ;P) for actually editing task lists. I find it too easy to accidentally change task titles while navigating around. This should possibly be opt-in, since many users love the frictionless editing of task lists (I sadly don’t).

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, it’s meant as honest suggestions. Overall I am very pleased with the product and most design & philosophy decisions :heart_decoration:

PS: I found a nice Medium article that I mostly agree with to support and explain what I wrote above.


#2

Thanks for your feedback and for the corresponding Medium article @opatut! This is very helpful.


#3

I don’t feel quite as strongly as @opatut on this subject :slight_smile:, but I do agree that the mix of Tab+ and Ctrl+ is a bit confusing at times. I’ve also found that Ctrl+D to duplicate tasks sometimes clashes with creating bookmarks in Chrome (same shortcut).


#4

I found out that an extension was grabbing these keys so just for completeness, this was my own fault and is no asana problem. The original point of having some features only keyboard-accessible and thus being not “accessible” still stands, though.

So what’s the status on this, can I expect changes to the keyboard shortcut stuff coming soon? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#5

I really agree with opatut’s sentiment. I find the Asana keyboard shortcuts confusing and not helpful. I mean a ‘short’ cut is supposed to make things shorter, right?

Like opatut stated, the ‘tab’ key was not meant as a modifier. Control, Option, Command, all work very well as modifiers. I believe that is because they can be easily reached and used with a single hand, without looking at the keyboard.

Related to this is why Asana chose to set commonly used shortcuts to use additional keys that require a second hand? For example, in ‘My Tasks’, how often might a user want to designate a task for later? Fairly often, I would expect. Yet the shortcut require left hand ‘tab’ and right hand ‘L’. Does that make any sense?

I feel that all of this could be remedied if Asana had native desktop apps. On the Mac at least (and I ‘think’ Windows does this too), any native app command can have a custom shortcut created (System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts). If there was a native Asana app, anyone could assign whatever shortcut they wanted to, that helped them actually ‘short-cut’ the task they were doing in Asana.

Hopefully something will improve in some way regarding Asana shortcuts.


#6

I hate to revive an old topic, but seeing as Asana still use Tab for shortcuts, I’d like to second the OP’s points, and add another suggestion.

What if the shortcuts were configurable? I personally have my keyboard remapped so that Tab+U/I/O is equivalent to Numeric 7/8/9 and so on. So in order to use Asana’s keyboard shortcuts I have to disable Karabiner Elements (the keyboard remapping software).

I also understand that using traditional modifiers like Ctrl/Cmd/Alt can easily conflict with system shortcuts, but not everyone uses the same shortcuts, so if we had the option to change the shortcuts, most users could still use the default, while power users could have the option to change them to their liking.