Notes on computer tricks

                Equipo de Propulsión Espacial y Plasmas, Mario Merino, 2021

What is this?

This is just an opinionated list.

It is how I use the computer based on my experience.

Your choices may differ. But hopefully something of what I do may serve you.

Also, I am willing to improve this. So, happy to hear from your own findings.

Sharpen the saw

The computer is a tool you use many hours a day. It pays off to gradually learn to become more efficient

  • Spend some time reflecting on how you work every now and then
  • Visit the options of your applications and the help pages
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts
  • Have a single install
    • Work remotely (Chrome remote)
    • Have a backup system (Gdrive, install the client)

Learn to find help

You don't need to know everything.
But you must know how to ask questions.

  • Stack overflow
  • Forums / help pages of your application

Be organized

  • Define a directory structure that works for you in Gdrive and stick with it. This is mine →
  • Entropy grows over time. Good to clean up once every month or two

My selection of software

  • VScode as the editor AND terminal AND git client AND ssh
  • OneNote for my notes (knowledge database)


  • Chrome as browser (+Chrome remote desktop, + LastPass, +Adblock Plus)
  • Inkscape for some drawings (Powerpoint for most, however; also Tikz)

My selection of online applications

  • Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Gdocs, Gsheets. Use google file stream
  • Quire for task management
  • GitHub for version control
  • Overleaf for latex


List of things I want to tell you about, so I won't forget:

  • Shortcuts, F1
  • Your task list
  • Changing views
  • Searching
  • Connection with GCalendar
  • Description and comments
  • Markdown
  • Mobile App

Windows 10

Just some life-changing shortcuts:

  • WIN+E: open the file explorer
  • WIN+SHIFT+S: capture a section of current screen as an image (into the clipboard)
  • WIN+V: clipboard history
  • WIN+1/2/3/etc: open the nth app pinned to the taskbar
  • WIN+L: lock your computer
  • WIN+P: project screen menu

Other useful things:

  • AutoHotKey: a small program to enter common text strings with a shortcut (e.g. "Universidad Carlos III de Madrid")
  • Windows subsystem for linux: run a linux distro inside windows. Quite useful for development (see here)
  • C:\Users\(you)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent: a dynamic directory with shortcuts will all recent files and directories
    • Worth creating a shortcut to it in the file explorer quick access!


  • Best text editor?
  • F1 or CTRL + SHIFT + P for the command palette
  • Many useful extensions: julia/matlab/markdown/project manager/remote


  • F1: open command palette (similar to vscode's CTRL+SHIFT+P)
  • CTRL+ALT+(left / right): add the (previous / next) instance of current word to current selection (multiple cursors)
  • Use the EP2 bibTeX files: Add New file | From another project
  • Can use files (e.g. with list of packages and macros) defined in another project likewise


  • DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) define your own macros for symbols and common code blocks. Macros can have arguments (defining default values is also possible). Examples:
  • A file with common macros can be found in ep2 overleaf projects