“Tell Me” is Microsoft’s infamous Clippy finally done right, and somehow I hadn’t paid attention until very recently. It gives unobtrusive help when you need it, focused on task completion rather than teaching you how to use the software. It’s got a strong Getting Things Done ethos to it.
This feature – later renamed as Microsoft Search in Office – is summoned with the Alt+Q shortcut and combines:
- what’s effectively an auto-complete command line (think Launchy for Office 2016 functions)
- functionality help/discovery
- command history
In effect this delivers several benefits:
- you don’t have to remember where features you don’t use often are located in the ribbon, nor what their individual keyboard shortcuts are.
- You can perform more actions without using the mouse.
- You can do more without looking stuff up in the Help.
See it in action in this video:
Other Apps With This Design Pattern
- PhpStorm, my new favorite development interface does something similar with Find Action (Ctrl+Shift+A).
- Sublime Text’s Command Palette.
- Chrome DevTools’ command menu (Ctrl+Shift+P) (12:30 in the following video):
For even more on this pattern , read: The History of Command Palettes: How Typing Commands Became The Norm Again