Enso is a good example of the axiom that 'Search is faster than navigation'. Its one of the tools that I was introduced to by the book 'The productive programmer' by Neal Ford. It has been handy ever since.
The concept of the tool is pretty simple... it redefines the way in which you communicate with your machine. e.g. If I want to install or uninstall a program, I do not want to click through a number of windows and dig through menus (and lose my focus by the time I get there). My intention is 'open add or remove programs' so that I can install that new app. It may be a tiny boost but multiplied by the volume of instances / day, Enso can save you a lot of time. So lets get right to it...
First you need to install Humanized's Enso launcher (12 MB download)
Next it's easier if you are a keyboard person instead of a mouse person. You need some dexterity with your left pinky finger
Enso takes over your capslock key once installed. So keep capslock pressed down with your left pinky (you should see a green floating band at the top-left) and continue typing to issue commands....
With Vista and Windows7, this is not something to write home about. Both of them have a real-time search box when you invoke the Start Menu - where you can enter a substring/part of the app you want to invoke and the start menu narrows down your choices.
However if you're on WinXP, you're gonna love this. e.g I always had to go hunting for the add/remove programs applet inside the Start Menu. (or pick something else e.g. like a specific version of Visual Studio). Soon I'd be piling on quick launch icons ; and even that required you to reach for the mouse. (I like to be one with the keyboard as long as possible).
Now with enso, reach out your left pinky to the capslock key. Keep it pressed, while you continue to type a substring e.g 'open remove' or 'open 2008' in the green floating band that just popped up. You'll see a dynamically updating dropdown that you can use to select with the arrow keys. When you lift your finger off the capslock key. The selected program shall be opened. No kidding... try it. It's addictive ; No program is ever more than one open command away.
Associate a file/directory/url/shortcut with a command
Assume you have a directory that you frequently access e.g.
Ensure that the above path is selected (either in the location bar of windows explorer or write it down in notepad and select it). Next use your pinky and type in
learn as open jail
Enso should get back with 'open jail is now a command'
Now try opening like before.
Caps + 'open jail'
and you should see a windows explorer window pointed at the right folder.
You just taught Enso a new command 'jail'.
You can verify this by looking in your MyDocuments folder. You should see a folder created by Enso with all your commands.
This also means that you can carry your enso commands with you across machine (e.g. in a USB storage device), dump it to the local MyDocuments folder and off you go.
Of course Enso just takes over your capslock key, to regain that function, Enso has 2 commands. Keep caps pressed and type
'capslock on' OR
You can make Enso unlearn a command by saying
Caps + 'unlearn open jail' Enso wipes its memory cells clean.
Useful: Usually. e.g. you could associate your MRU visual studio solution file with a command 'curproj'
Now try this on selected files/shortcuts.
e.g. Select any exe or shortcut in your file explorer.
Caps + learn as open someexe
Now you can the exe is at your fingertips with
Works for shortcuts too. You can even create a "rooted view" e.g. create a shortcut for %windir%\explorer.exe /e, /root, D:\tarpit\theNextKillerApp
Select it and learn it as a command. Try it out
Works for urls as well. Enso would open up your a new instance/tab of your default browser pointed at the learned url.
e.g. select http://www.answers.com/topic/dexterity right here. Teach enso a new command
Caps + 'learn as open dex'
Now you can open this page at any time using
Useful: Occasionally - since browsers have generally better at this; bookmarks, tags and incremental search in the address bar.
Jump/Switch to an open window or tab in a browser
This one is nice.
Caps + 'go google'
go taskjump directly to an open window which has that substring in the window title.
Its works for browser tabs too - if you had a minimized or buried browser with a tab showing google's homepage, the right browser and child tab would be activated. Its a shame it doesn't work with Firefox3.. seems to be a bug that could be fixed. Works with IE8
Useful: Pretty much ; wish I could unlearn alt+tab-ing as easily as Enso.
Open with ...
This one is supereasy but hasn't become second nature to me yet. You can select any file (e.g. in a file explorer)
Caps + 'open with [name of app]'
and Enso does just that. e.g. 'open with notepad' will open up the selected file in notepad.
Useful: Yes. No more Shift+right click > Open with ... > hunt for the exe if !inList. Freedom!!
Close active window/tab
the command is close. I like dismissing windows with
Enso can do minimize and maximise too.
For more inbuilt commands, Use Caps + 'command list' to have a look at inbuilt commands. I believe you can script custom commands too (e.g. 'mail' instead of 'open Outlook') if you know a bit of Python. However that's outside the scope of this post :)
That's all folks!