⌘ Getting started with Keyboard Maestro – What is it?

If you look up tools related to productivity and automation on the Mac, Keyboard Maestro comes up. But, the question is, what is Keyboard Maestro and what does it do?

Out of the box Keyboard Maestro looks like Automator. As such, it may seem like it doesn’t do much. “I’ve got it, now what? How is this going to help me?”

To get the most out of Keyboard Maestro, you will need to assemble some blocks, like putting Lego together. It’s easier than it seems once you get the hang of it. And don’t worry, there are hundreds of examples on the Keyboard Maestro forums.

To get started, Keyboard Maestro is based on two concepts, Trigger and Action.

As the name implies, the Trigger, is what causes Keyboard Maestro to act. This can be pressing a keyboard shortcut, a mouse click, a typed keyword, or an event like a device connecting, something being copied to the clipboard, system idle, or system wake.

Once a trigger is detected, and Action is invoked. An action could be to copy/paste text, launch an application, run a shell script, open a file or folder, move an application window to a specific position, or click a series of menu choices in an app.

For example, at 5:30pm on Friday, I want to close a series of apps. This frees up memory and gives the apps a chance to check for updates on launch.

Or, at 8:00am each day, I want to launch Microsoft Teams.

Keyboard Maestro checks for dozens of triggers and can invoke hundreds of actions. Some of these can be simple actions like the above or go into full decision making code blocks.

A few things that Keyboard Maestro supports:

⁃   Loops - For Each, While, Until, Repeat
⁃   Conditions - Case, If Then Else
⁃   Variables, parsing, search replace, calculations
⁃   Pause until conditions are met such as application is running, closed, or a conditions is true or false

Keyboard Maestro also supports executing code from AppleScript, Bash, Java, Groovy, Python, and JavaScript. Keyboard Maestro could run a specific Bash script at a certain time each week.

Keyboard Maestro is one of those tools where the more you use it, the more uses you find for it.

At the start it might do nothing more than copy text to the clipboard, do a simple search/replace, then paste the results. Even that will save time if used correctly.

Over time, it’s easy to get Keyboard Maestro to control other applications, prompt for input, then perform an action, rename files in a directory, organize files as they’re added to a folder, and a slew of other things.

At this point, I’ve got dozens of macros for different things, from copying and pasting text, to launching apps on a schedule, to positioning windows, to launching and closing apps based on a specific tasks.

The best thing to do is start simple and build from there.

Up next will be a simple cut/copy macro.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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