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Keyboard Maestro: 8 unexpected uses for the old-school Mac-hacking tool

Anders Lundberg | Sept. 24, 2014
OS X includes all kinds of tools to help speed up your Mac's workflow--scripting, keyboard shortcuts, and Automator among them. But the venerable utility Keyboard Maestro can be more useful, in more different ways, than any of those built-in tools.

The result is that you can still easily do some quick searches in Safari or even catch a couple of tweets. But every two minutes you are reminded to get back to work by hiding all other apps and activating MacJournal (or whatever your favorite work app is).

If you work in a bunch of apps, you can adjust the macro to hide just a few specific apps — Web browsers, Twitter clients and the like.

Open in Chrome

Many of us keep several browsers around, either for different tasks or simply because some websites seem to work better in one browser than another. If Safari is your main browser but you sometimes find you need to open a site in Google Chrome, you can create a keyboard shortcut to instantly take the frontmost tab in Safari and open it in Chrome.

Make a new macro, either putting it in the Global group or — if you prefer to only make it run while Safari is the frontmost application — in a new macro group set to only work in Safari.

Pick a Hot Key Trigger and choose one that's easy to use and remember. If you want to make sure the shortcut isn't already in use, you can try it first. Shortcuts that use the Control and Option keys are much less common than shortcuts that use Command and Shift. The same goes for the F-keys (though you normally have to use Fn to activate those).

Add an action and choose If Then Else from the Control Flow group. In the action, choose All Of The Following Are True, This Application, Safari Is Running. This makes sure Safari is running before trying to open its frontmost tab in Chrome.

Next, add the following three actions one after the other:

  • Open -> Open a File, Folder or Application and navigate to and pick Google Chrome.
  • Google Chrome Control -> Wait For Google Chrome to Finish Loading
  • Google Chrome Control -> New Google Chrome Tab -> Choose With URL: %SafariURL%

%SafariURL% is a special token that automatically finds the address of Safari's frontmost tab/window. Keyboard Maestro includes a long list of such tokens that can paste anything from today's date to the position of the mouse pointer on the screen and the name of the trigger that triggered the macro.

Set actions for special mouse buttons

If you're a traditionalist who still prefers to use a mouse, chances are you have a mouse with buttons that aren't really used in Mac applications. With Keyboard Maestro, you can make them useful.

For this macro, I'd suggest you make a new macro group called Mouse Controls or something similar, in order to group the different button triggers together. Now make a new macro in that group and pick Device Trigger, then This Device Key and then press the button you want to set an action for. In my example, I clicked the left extra button on a Logitech G3 mouse, which shows up in Keyboard Maestro as USB Gaming Mouse Button 4.


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