We have all become quite used to the ideal of using gestures to interact with software on cell phones and tablets, and it has become almost second nature to perform certain actions. There are a number of common gestures – such as swiping up, down, left or right, or pinching with the thumb and forefinger – and there are even app such as the Dolphin web browser than enable you to define gestures of your own.
StrokesPlus is a great free tool that can be used to bring the idea of gestures to your mouse. The utility works like a macro recording tool and enables you to assign an action or series of action to a particular movement of the mouse.
There are a number of gestures built into the program from the moment you install it, and you may well find that these are enough to make StrokesPlus useful to you. But you also have the option of defining your own gestures, and the macros you assign to them can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
Used at its most basic, you can use the program to define a certain gesture – such as drawing the letter W on screen with your mouse – and assign a basic action to it – such as launching Word. But there is also the possibility of adding keyboard modifiers that enable you to perform more advanced actions.
1. Download and Install StrokesPlus
Fire up your web browser and head over to the StrokesPlus web site. Click the forum link to be taken to the forum with the latest version of the software. Click the Downloads forum in the Release section and then click the post that relates to the most recent release.
Click the link to download the Setup Package Download version of the program, taking care to ensure that you choose the 32- or 64-bit edition depending on what version of Windows you have installed. Double click the .msi file and run through the installation once the download is complete you can launch the program from the Start menu.
2. Testing the Program
StrokesPlus includes a number of build in gestures to get you started, and you can check that the software is functioning correctly and get an idea of how it works by testing these out. Hold down the right mouse button and draw the shape of the letter R (capitalized) anywhere on screen.
In this example, you’ll notice that the Run dialog is activated, Notepad is launched, a message is typed and the About Windows dialog box is displayed – all with one simple gesture.
3. Other Built-in Gestures
There are a number of other ready made gestures available for you to use within StrokesPlus – to access the list, right click the notification area icon and select the Actions option. In the Global Actions list to the left, you will find dozens of gestures to choose from.
Click any item in this list and to the right you will see the script, or macro, that the gesture activates – in most cases it should be possible to work out how the script works by looking at the code.
The default gestures and actions are fairly varied, and you should find that there are at least a few that you could use on a daily basis – you may even find that there’s no need to create any more gestures of your own!
4. Creating a New Gesture
The chances are that you will want to customize StrokesPlus by creating your own gestures. These can then be used to launch programs you have installed and perform all manner of other actions. At the Configure Actions window, click the Add Action button at the bottom of the screen, type and suitable name and click OK.
To create the gesture you would like to use, select the newly create action over to the left and then click the New button beneath the Gesture menu. Click OK and then draw the gesture you would like to use whilst holding down the right mouse button. When you release the mouse button, enter a name for the gesture and click Save.
From the Available Actions menu to the right, select acRunProgram and click the Insert button. Replace the word fullpath with “C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office14\\winword.exe” (you can adjust this according to the program you want to launch) and replace the word parameters with “”.
Replace the word seconds with 0 and the word style with 3 – the full code should read acRunProgram(“C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft Office\\Office14\\winword.exe”,””,0, 3).
Click the Close button and you can test out your gesture. This is an incredibly simple macro, but it gives you an idea of what StrokesPlus can be used for and in conjunction with the actions and gestures that are already included, you will find this a very useful addition to your desktop.
5. Enabling and Disabling StrokesPlus
While StrokesPlus is an immensely useful tool, there are times when you may find that it interferes with other things you are trying to do. There are three ways in which you can quickly disable the program; either double click the notification area icon, or use the Ctrl + Shift + Win + Z keyboard shortcut. You can re-enable the program by using the same method for a second time.
Another option for enabling and disabling is to double click the icon in the notification area of the taskbar. When StrokesPlus is disabled, a red cross will appear through the icon – double clicking again will remove the cross and re-enable the program.
Finally, you can right click the notification area icon and tick or untick the Disable StrokesPlus option.
The scope of StrokesPlus is almost limitless, and it is worth spending a little time reading through the accompanying help file to see just what else is possible.
If you’re willing to put the effort into learning how the scripting language works, some truly great things can be achieved.