Home OSX Hypercharging your Mac with Keyboard Maestro 6

Hypercharging your Mac with Keyboard Maestro 6

by Kerry Dawson

In an article I wrote a while back titled “Automating your Mac: Beware of Over Automation“ I wrote fairly extensively on just how valuable I found Keyboard Maestro in my daily routine. An automation tool for the Mac, it allows you to assign actions or Macros, which is a set of actions, to a trigger of which Keyboard Maestro has many. Keyboard Maestro 6 has just recently been released with a very nice feature set enhancement. Previously, I would say Keyboard Maestro Super Charged your Mac. Keyboard Maestro 6 hypercharges your Mac.

Maintains Consistency with the Past

Keyboard Maestro 6 has added many new functions and features yet continues to operate exactly as it did before with the same interface. There is no relearning an interface and all of your existing macros continue to operate exactly as they did previously. However, now there are just more triggers available to invoke a macro, always a handy thing and more actions and now groups of actions available to you.

When I upgraded to Keyboard Maestro 6 I just continued on as if I had not even upgraded. It’s a seamless upgrade due to this consistency of function. There was no loss of macro functionlity. There was no relearning an interface. There was only more functions to learn but when I was ready to learn them. I’ve got many macros as it is and as I said Keyboard Maestro had already supercharged my Mac. I could hyper charge it at my own leisure and learn what I needed to learn when the time came.

One Feature though that Demanded an Upgrade

I bought Keyboard Maestro 6 the day it came out. If there was no rush to develop new macros and I could learn these when I wanted what was the rush to upgrade. There is one feature that has been added to Keyboard Maestro 6 that is a must have feature if you use more than one Mac and I do. The feature that was added was the ability to sync your Macros between machines.

It is no longer necessary to figure out how to get your macros from one device to the other. In my case, I used Chronosync but I often forgot to run it. With Keyboard Maestro 6’s sync’g based on Dropbox macros are now always in sync. There’s no more forgetting. Once you change your macro on one machine the macro’s are sync’d through to your other machines and this is not only a time saver but a learning saver. I often would go to my other computer and go to invoke a commonly used macro only to find it worked in the old way or not at all as I had modified it and forgot to sync it across. So sync alone was worth the upgrade as it saved both time and inconvenience; the inconvenience of having to go to your other machine to sync the Macros across.

Loaded with new Functions

As I mentioned in my article I referenced above Keyboard Maestro is a program that I could not live without. If I had to choose between my automation programs only one that I could keep and I had to do away with everything else then it would be Keyboard Maestro I would keep. I’ve built quite a slew of macros in Keyboard Maestro. So much so that although hotkeys are my standard way of activating a Macro, often the Hotkey leads to a palette of macros of which one I choose to invoke. The reason I’ve done this is two fold. First, I have so many macros, I would run out of hotkeys or couldn’t possibly remember all the combinations especially for the lesser used of those macros. So that leads the second reason I use palettes. If I can’t remember every hotkey I have assigned to invoke a macro, by looking at a palette of macros I’ll know which one it is i want to invoke. This is very powerful and efficient.

Thus, although there are many new functions and features in Keyboard Maestro 6 I haven’t implemented yet as I haven’t had the pressing need, I have implemented some. What is wonderful about Keyboard Maestro is that there are a variety of triggers you can use to invoke a macro from:

  • hotkey
  • timed trigger
  • palette
  • upon wake
  • upon login
  • when another application does something like launch

and on it goes.

In Keyboard Maestro 6 there are now even more triggers. Four more to be exact. These just provide you additional handy ways to invoke your macros.

The List of New Functions is Extensive

The list of new functions is very extensive and can be found on the Keyboard Maestro’s Home Page. The help manual is extensive and will guide you through the use of these new and existing macros.

I have every intention of taking further advantage of Keyboard Maestro 6 as the need arises. That’s the beauty of this program. You can really get it to do anything from the most simple action like launch a program or web site at 6 pm to run through a complete set of actions that leads you to an outcome that would have involved many mouse clicks and keystrokes. However, you don’t need to use all aspects of the program to get this value. Only that which you need. I’ll need some of the functions in Keyboard Maestro 6 and when I do I’ll use them. As long as you know what’s there, you’ll figure out how to create your macro.

Tapping into the New Functionality

The best way to tap into the new functionality is to first know what it is. In fact, further to this and my previous article it’s good to more fully understand the value of a macro program and what Keyboard Maestro can do generally and specifically for you.

Christopher Breen has written an excellent overview article in MacWorld titled “Mac Gems: Keyboard Maestro 6 is a genius at repetitive tasks“ in which he not only outlines some of the new things Keyboard Maestro 6 can do and how but he goes further in describing the value of a macro program. It’s my honest opinion that everyone should have Keyboard Maestro 6 even if they’re just constantly opening the same web sites over and over every day. You’ll find though you’ll soon start exploring and find many things that you do that are tedious and repetitive lend themselves well to Keyboard Maestro 6.

Gabe Weatherhead goes the extra mile when he talks about Keyboard Maestro 6 at MacDrifter and notes that it is one of his most used programs. In his review Keyboard Maestro 6 Update he goes into some extensive detail on some of the new features which are quite elaborate in nature. For the Power House Keyboard Maestro user this is an excellent overview article. For someone just approaching Keyboard Maestro 6 this could be a bit mind blowing but it does demonstrate the girth of power Keyboard Maestro 6 has.

Finally, I always find a visual tutorial of a product is a good way to get oriented to a product and further learn how to use it. Although this doesn’t deal with Keyboard Maestro 6 solely, Don MacAllister’s tutorial on Keyboard Maestro is an excellent show to watch to get a feel for the product. You can find his show on Keyboard Maestro at ScreenCastsOnline. This a two part show which includes Concentrate then Keyboard Maestro. You can skip over the Concentrate section and jump straight to Keyboard Maestro. One thing I have frequently found about watching these shows is that if I am new to a product and it is unfamiliar to me, watching the show to get oriented is useful. However, after having read the above and played around with Keyboard Maestro you then are best to revisit the show. It will make a lot more sense on second go around and add value to what you know.

Something in this Tool for Everyone

Keyboard Maestro is loaded with so much functionality there’s really something there for everyone regardless if they only use that one piece of functionality. It is:

  • probably the most powerful macro utility available on the Mac
  • it is a multi-clipboard manager and this function alone surpasses many dedicated clipboard managers such as iClipboard
  • a text expansion utility that is fast and combined with Macros can have very interesting results

My Mac is definitely supercharged with the product I had. The addition of sync was so important to me this alone made it a no brainer upgrade decision. However, it’ll soon be time to hypercharge my Mac. For all I know, I might have already done that and in this instance I think so should you. Approach it correctly and don’t get overwhelmed by the advanced functionality and you too will have a hyper charged Mac. So go ahead. Grab the keys. It will be a $36 well spent.

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