23 October 2009

Shortcuts and searches in Google Wave

I've been playing around with Google Wave ever since I received my invite from a Romanian blogger almost two weeks ago. Generally it made a positive impression on me, but more on that later. Right now, let's see how you can improve the Wave experience with some neat keyboard tricks.

Keyboard shortcuts:

Although only a preview product, Google Wave has some nice keyboard shortcuts that can really help speed up things:

  • > Use Space/Shift+Space to navigate to the next/previous unread message in a wave. If you're at the last unread message, hitting Space moves the focus to the next unread wave in your inbox, something I find confusing and annoying.
  • > You can also navigate through the messages in a wave, regardless of their read-status, with the Up/Down arrows and with Tab/Shift+Tab. Like Space, it marks messages as read, but it doesn't jump to other waves when it reaches the last message.
  • Google Wave double-click menu> With Enter you can reply to a message. If you select some text before hitting Enter, Wave inserts a comment at the cursor position. Combining Enter with Shift places the reply at the bottom of the wave, below all other messages.
  • > Shift+Enter also exits editing mode when you have finished writing your reply, like hitting "Done".
  • > If you want to go back to editing, you can use Ctrl+E.

I find these shortcuts related to replying and editing the most useful; with the mouse you need to click three times for these actions: twice to bring up the floating menu and another one to select one of them. Not to mention how easy it is to click 'reply' instead of 'edit' or vice-versa!

There are a lot of mouse actions right now that have no keyboard counterpart, but hopefully they will be added in the future. The full list can be found in the Google Help pages.


Gina Trapani covered some innovative ways to use searches in Google Wave, and the comments to her article also mention the official full list of search operators. Some of them will be familiar to Gmail power-users, while others got renamed for more or less obvious reasons. There are also new search options related to Wave's new architecture.

  • > from: and to: work much the same way as in Gmail, with the exception that you can only use the @googlewave.com address of the contact. Searching with the name doesn't return any results, at least for me. with: is a new addition that combines from: and to: is a single search term. cc: and bcc: have disappeared, since these fields have no meaning in Wave. Appending only in front of to: or with: restricts the results to waves with one participant.
  • > subject: was replaced with title:, a logical choice since a wave doesn't have a subject in the traditional sense.
  • > in: and is: can filter waves by their location (the same choices you find in the Navigation pane, including folders) and by state (note, read/unread, muted/unmuted, filed/unfiled).
  • > tag: replaces the label: operator from Gmail. A much welcomed addition is the search term has:tag; it can be used to find untagged waves (use -has:tag), something that still needs a complicated work-around in Gmail.
  • > has:attachment works the same as in Gmail and here it has two more options for finding only documents (has:document) or images (has:image). filename: was replaced with caption:.
  • > The lang: operator is not officially documented, but it is mentioned in an article by Lifehacker. With it you can filter waves written in a specific language. So far it has worked flawlessly on my low-volume inbox. Waves with several languages might confuse it, so don't expect it to be perfect.


Another feature that Wave shares with Google Mail are the custom URLs for each section, that can be bookmarked for easier access. Here's some thing you can do with it: (I sure hope there tips aren't also mentioned in some documentation, or I will feel really silly.)

  • > One of my earliest annoyances with Wave is that it doesn't save the dimension and position of the four panels when you close it. I prefer to have the navigation and contacts panels minimized, because I don't use then often and there is more space left to read waves. To access this layout directly, use the following link: https://wave.google.com/wave/#minimized:nav,minimized:contact. If you like to keep one of them at the normal size, just remove that section (minimized:...) from the URL. Google wave alternate layout
  • > I use portable Firefox for browsing at work with a modified user-agent (pretending it's Internet Explorer, of course!) and Google Wave keeps alerting me the browser is not supported. To bypass this annoying check, go directly to https://wave.google.com/wave/?nouacheck. Of course, some browsers just can't handle the storm: in my experience so far, Opera 10 fails to load Wave every time with a nasty error. Google Wave preview browser not supported
  • > You can save searches outside of Wave, just like in Gmail. For example, if you would like to go directly to all public waves, bookmark this address: https://wave.google.com/wave/#minimized:nav,minimized:contact,restored:search:with%253Apublic.

In fact, I recommend taking a moment just to watch the tide of public waves advancing and retreating from the top, it's a fun experience!

1 comment:

  1. And the list of search terms goes on here: Google Wave Cheat Sheet
    And quite a long list it is! Looks like Google Wave will be (is!) much more flexible than Gmail!