Disturbing lack of keyboard shortcuts in RM8

I used to work in a large government organization, and with any new software introduced or major updates to existing software, the mouse was to be disconnected and all functionality to be able to be used by keyboard combinations or shortcuts.
When one major piece of software was upgraded, some bright spark in senior management signed off on the upgrade without even the common Windows keyboard combinations being implemented (Control+V, Control+C etc.).
Needless to say there was a revolt by staff using the software, in some cases for hours at a time.
The software developers just responded by saying the keyboard shortcuts were not a requirement in the specifications provided to them.
I located the official documents that required all software to be able to use the combinations and shortcuts with the mouse disconnected…
Eventually they were included in an upgrade, however productivity was greatly reduced until that upgrade.


Agreed. The mouse is fine for poking around, which is all I’m really doing right now. For serious data entry, keyboard all the way. I had the RM7 Alt & Ctrl sequences down and could speed through most data entry sequences without a problem.

Additionally, I invested in a gamers keyboard which lets me program up to 3 sets of 18 G keys to add data or maneuver around. I was even using it to colorize people, but that cannot be done if multiple colors start with the same first letter…

About 25 years ago–it may be more, retirement seems to dull the memory somewhat–the word processor Word Perfect, which, if memory serves correctly, until that time had been a DOS-based program, came out with a Windows version–v.6 if I remember. up until that time, WP had been keyboard commands only, using a keyboard overlay on the function keys, and combinations of Alt, Shift and CTRL to achieve an impressive command set.

A similar uproar to this one arose among WP users. Partly because of the changes, and partly due to the desire to have uniformity in word processing, my employer at the time decreed that henceforth the word processor, spreadsheet and database management would be those in the Microsoft Office package. My decision then was to convert all my WordPerfect documents to MS Word, and buckle down to learn the new program. Of course, in the interim, several things have happened, such as the ability to save a document in a format that was readable in any word processor; WordPerfect was bought by Corel, and so on.

My point in this diatribe is that technology moves on, and with the greatest respect toward those who have been long-time RM users, may I suggest that gentle reminders to the team at Roots Magic will probably point the way. I believe that one of the desires of RM was to make the program a little less cumbersome, and easier to modify for the coders. One thing that accomplishes this is the partial removal of keyboard commands in favour of mouse clicks. Yes, I know that you’ve become accustomed to the keyboard, and that you prefer to use the mouse for ‘poking around’. Taking your eyes off the screen for a moment allows you to also have a quick check of what has been written, entered, etc. and possibly see and correct possible errors, as I have done during the writing of this response.

Take a breath, folks. You’ve been presented with a new version of your beloved RM. I think it behooves us to give the authors a show of gratitude, and buckle down and learn the ins and outs of the program, so that we can become comfortable with it, and ready to complain anew when RM9 comes on the scene! :slight_smile:


@Philirons well said.

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As long as RM will be easier for the coders, I’m sure that the users will be happy to sacrifice efficiency and ease-of-use.

I’m 100% in the camp of “RM8 is too slow in data entry without ALL those keyboard shortcuts”.
See also the post: Keyboard shortcuts

I had a fruitless discussion with someone in Tech Support who appeared not to know anything useful and eventually that found its way to Renee and she replied to me on Oct.14: "There are some keyboard shortcuts on the Command Palette. To add a child to a highlighted person use Shift+Ctrl+C. The Command Palette is in the upper right corner of the program next to the Find Everywhere search box. We intend to add more in the future. "

The things in the Command Palette are mostly (so far) about navigating windows, screens, views and tools … NOT about facilitating data entry. So I sent her a list of things I was looking for …

Some examples:

  • Selecting the highlighted thing in a list by hitting Enter, not clicking Next or Select
  • Always being able to confirm / save / exit a dialog by hitting Alt-O (or something like that) instead of clicking the OK button (you have a FEW of those already)
  • Opening the Notes associated with a Fact by hitting Alt-N instead of clicking on a little box/icon
  • Opening the Sources associated with a Fact by hitting Alt-S instead of clicking on a little box/icon
  • Completing data entry on a Fact and saving it by hitting Alt-V instead of clicking the check mark
  • Pasting a copied Source on to a new Fact by hitting Alt-P instead of clicking the Sources icon then Paste Citation then Paste Copy (and a different Alt- for Reusing a Citation)

And other things that RM7 did which greatly sped up the data entry task:

  • When a dialog is opened, or a view slides in, preposition the cursor in the most likely data entry field
  • When adding a child to a family don’t ask me to sort them by birth date until I have COMPLETED that child (currently it happens too soon since I haven’t usually added the dates to the child, just the name, because I can’t readily add any notes and sources on the add person dialog)
  • When I have finished adding a child to a family ask me if I want to add another (like RM7 did), allowing me to say yes and keep going just by hitting Enter in most cases
  • When I add a Spouse to a person assume I’ll want to add a marriage Fact (usually true even if you have no date or place for that marriage Fact) – I can always delete it in the rare case

I used to be able to add piles of people with lots of facts for them and with source citations without ever touching the mouse and I got pretty fast at it. Can’t even get close to doing that now. RM8 slows me down a lot.

I hope reintroducing these shortcuts is already on the To Do list and not too far off in the future – or should I wait for version 8.2?


My grandson in college would tell you that RootsMagic shouldn’t have bothered with Version 8 in the first place. Everyone who is “up to date” (according to him) does everything on their phone these days, so all you should need is a phone app. “No one uses a old-fashioned computer any more.”

Great to see so many retirees who used the early versions of word as did I. surely the usual windows shortcuts could be added into RM8 ? i have been trying to delete multiple media items, i cant select more then one at time, I cant turn delete confirmation off, i cant use the space bar instead of Yes, whats going on ?? this is new software, surely it should support common shortcuts like Ctrl C to copy, Ctrl V to paste etc.

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Hmph. I’m 75. I can barely see the caller ID notice on my phone; I sure as heck ain’t gonna try to do my genealogy on one, nor even on my tablet! Sure I use mt phone for texting, etc., but for the important stuff, gimme at least a laptop, and preferably a 21" monitor!


I’m 67. I worked for 36+ years in software / systems / networking design, implementation and support for a major multinational corporation. Been retired now for almost 9 years. I was building computers before you could buy them. I have programmed in at least 30 different languages on micros, desktops, minis and mainframes. I read NT4 architecture for fun. I code web pages using Notepad because I can. Using any one device for all functions just shows a lack of imagination (or understanding) - when your only tool is a hammer then all your problems look like nails.

Earlier today I sent some info to Renee (whom I believe is one of the developers or designers - she’s been helpful in the RM7 days too). The info is about how Microsoft guides you to design an application that is well behaved in the Windows environment. The info I sent was primarily focused on the User Interface.

I have no idea if it will have any impact. Hoping …


Are those Microsoft guidelines available online? I would be very curious to see them, and not just in the context of RM.

I agree, keyboard shortcuts are good for arthritic fingers

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Not wanting to hijack this thread, and this is sort of in context, but I really wish RM8 developers would allow everything to be copied and pasted to anywhere. “Anything from anywhere to anywhere” is my desire for a new piece of added functionality.


Hello emkaysmith, I am with you in terms of adding keyboard shortcuts to RM8. I enjoyed your comment about the TRS-80, I purchased mind in 1979 and had a lot of fun playing around Basic and developing simple little routines.
RSA-1 rsajr1@bellsouth.net

I taught myself line-numbered TANDY BASIC and wrote a number of adventure-type games for my kids. The adventure guy was a double-asterisk that moved sloooooooowly through the dungeons (made up of straight lines) on the b/w monitor. My oldest son was 13 and really got into it, to the extent that he learned BASIC himself. He’s been head of IT for a large Texas banking company for the past 15 years.

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I hear you, but I’ll bet it’s not easy to find developers willing to work on something like RM.
And the costs! what does RM cost $49? The software I used to work on would set you back 7,000 per seat. I admire the fact that they are still in business at all.

I too am a senior citizen trying to be positive about this upgrade. I HATE to constantly pick up the mouse to click when previously I could hit enter or tab. Data entry takes way longer than it did in RM7 and I am using a relatively new laptop with SSD drive and 16 gig or RAM. Also the program is really slow for most data entry. I used to simply hit “d” to bring up a box to add a death fact and now that same action caused me to have to correct 94 entries where it chose “adoption” rather than death.

I have used Bruce’s programs since Family Origins and found them easy to use for new users as well as old. Now, I don’t know what I will suggest for newbies to genealogy. I suggest that RM 6 or 7 be available for purchase at a reduced price for people beginning to do genealogy research. While those of us with years of researching using the computer will likely adjust over time and probably come to like RM8, this will not be an easy program for a newbie to learn The wonderful intuitive nature of the older formats is gone.


There’s a difference between software that you will use to earn income with and software for hobbies. I have several kinds of editorial software that cost me $500-$800 apiece – but I make money with those and they also come off my taxes. No one is paying for RootsMagic but me.

I was a member of the design and beta team for The Master Genealogist back in the '90s, working with Bob Velke behind the scenes at Dick Eastman’s Roots forum at CompuServe. That was originally a DOS program, so no mousing around, of course. (I’m not a coder, just an experienced end-use designer.) All of us on that team were – first and foremost – experienced genealogical researchers, so we concentrated on what we knew the users were actually going to NEED and WANT. And Bob (who wasn’t nearly as experienced at the actual research) made it happen.

TMG finally died a few years ago when Bob’s health gave out and a great many of us wandered in the wilderness for awhile, but most of us finally went with RM – and not in small part because its developers took (I won’t say “stole”) a great many of their ideas from TMG. A couple hours of use of RM7 made that very obvious. It took me a couple of months to adjust my work patterns to the differences in RM, but I expected that.

I’ve been working on sorting out an extended family this week using RM8 (so I guess I’m committed to it), and my patterns are slowly adjusting. But, as you and everyone else keeps pointing out, data entry is taking FAR longer. Too many damn buttons to have to click. Things I used to be able to do with two or three keyboard shortcuts are now taking me six or eight mouse clicks, and often having to re-select the same buttons and repeat the same steps instead of doing (say) entry of basic facts for a family of kids in a batch.

Why can’t I just hit ENTER to say “yes, do this thing”? Why can’t I even double-click the mouse on a selection, instead of having to select an option and then go find the button and click that? Why can’t I do cumulative searching on most of the lists for a person or a source (where it zeros in on what you want as you type) instead of having to use the stupid search box – and then you see only the single result of that search, and not all the surrounding items, one of qhich might turn out to be what you really needed?

Windows has had a long time to develop and all Windows apps have a large number of things in common where the user is concerned. That’s one of Microsoft’s biggest marketing points – that you can learn one set of shortcuts and apply them to EVERY application. RM’s developers seem not to understand basic marketing at all.


Philirons – I agree with Chris, “Well said.” I also remember those days with Word Perfect and only keyboard shortcuts. They were a nightmare for me because people were constantly losing the overlay.

Some of the keyboard shortcuts we know and love may one day be included in an upgrade to RM8. The less popular ones and those not compatible with the new software will be dropped. This is the price of progress. Always has been, always will be. (P.S. I typed this elsewhere and used a keyboard shortcut to paste my reply here!)