StopTheMadness: Hovering near greatness

April 21 2021 by Jeff Johnson

Today I released StopTheMadness version 21 in the Mac App Store. StopTheMadness is only 3 chronological years old, but software versions are like dog years. I just wanted to highlight some new features here, because most features in my web browser extension tend to be invisible. You wouldn't even know about them unless you read the release notes. And who does that? "Bug fixes and performance improvements."

1. Stop ⌘-arrow page navigation

First up, there's a feature specifically requested by Craig Mod. Not requested specifically from me, to be clear, but specifically requested by Craig from somebody. And I'm somebody! Craig was bothered because the keyboard shortcuts ⌘-left-arrow and ⌘-right-arrow, which are very useful inside of text fields — they put the cursor at the beginning or end of the current line of text — are less useful, indeed harmful, outside of text fields. If the focus happens to be outside of a text field when you press ⌘-left-arrow, then it turns out to be unexpectedly the equivalent of the "Back" command, and ⌘-right-arrow is the equivalent of the "Forward" command. In other words, they send you back or forward in your web browsing history, making you leave the current page. You're going to ask, aren't ⌘-[ and ⌘-] the keyboard shortcuts for Back and Forward? And the answer is yes, those are also keyboard shortcuts for those commands. Madness! Fortunately, I'm the somebody who makes StopTheMadness. In version 21 I've added a new Website Option "Stop "⌘-arrow page navigation". This option is disabled by default, for those (weirdos) who still expect ⌘-arrow to do page history navigation. If you enable the option, then StopTheMadness will stop ⌘-arrow from causing page navigation, while still allowing ⌘-arrow to work as expected inside text fields. This new option works in all web browsers: Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and other Chromium browsers such as Edge.

2. ⌘-delete on hover

Another new feature in StopTheMadness 21 that works in all browsers is the ability to delete any HTML element on any web page! This feature is part of the new "Hover shortcuts" website option, which is enabled by default. You just hover over any part of the page with the mouse, press ⌘-delete, and boom, the element underneath the pointer is gone. The brilliant part, if I do say so myself, is that you can undo the deletion if you don't like the result. When you press ⌘-delete, the element is temporarily removed from the page, and you get a confirmation dialog. If you cancel (escape key), then the element is put back into place as if nothing happened. No harm, no foul! But if you confirm (return key), then the element is really deleted from the page. As long as you're on the page, that is. If you leave the page and then visit again later in time, the unwanted element could be back; StopTheMadness is not a content blocker that persistently removes specified items from web pages. But ⌘-delete is useful for getting something out of your way right now, and you don't need to define any blocking rules, you can just delete whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.

3. ⌘-v on hover to open link with…

These new features may sound great, but in my opinion they're not even the best part of StopTheMadness 21. What if you could hover over a link, press a keyboard shortcut, and send the link to another app? Well now you can! This new feature only works in Safari, because it depends on Safari's app extension API. The keyboard shortcut is ⌘-v, which is normally the shortcut for paste, but fortunately it's unused in this context, because there's no such thing as pasting over a link. The app that opens the link is the one you've selected in the "Open Link with" popup in StopTheMadness. It should come as no surprise that I recommend my own app Link Unshortener for the role of selected app. Link Unshortener was designed to integrate with StopTheMadness, and now the integration is closer than ever. (Link Unshortener also automatically follows your StopTheMadness Web URL Rules.)

The special ⌘-v shortcut to open a link on hover is also enabled by the "Hover shortcuts" website option in Safari. I should note that there are a couple of other special link keyboard shortcuts covered by this option: ⌘-c on hover to copy the link URL, and ⌘-x on hover to copy the link title. These keyboard shortcuts were actually introduced in a previous version of StopTheMadness, but again, you might not have been aware of them until now!

In summary, while StopTheMadness was already really good, in version 21 it's becoming, dare I say it, insanely great?

Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me)