If I had only one tool that I could use that would assist me in my operational Daily Functions on the Mac that tool would be Keyboard Maestro with no hesitation. When it comes to system and file assist tools, there is nothing more versatile, comprehensive or powerful than Keyboard Maestro v6. In 2013 the product was recognized for it’s capabilities and won a Macworld Eddie to recognize it’s strengths and value that it provides to the Mac computing community.
Macro Utilities Somewhat Lost
As we moved to OSX and the power it provided, logically speaking, Macro utilities were the ideal second right hand for the Mac user and most certainly played that role in their heyday. For some reason, they got a bit lost within the realms of OSX a very poor outcome indeed.
Quickeys, a macro utility, in its day, was a powerful macro tool that was commonly used by the Mac user. However, it went through many acquisitions and in its current home, the developer lost his key developer of the product. They really did not know how to develop such a powerful product!
In the Wings: Keyboard Maestro
However, all was far from lost though it was most assuredly with Quickeys. Keyboard Maestro, another Macro Utility, was more than happy to step in and fill the gap Quickeys created. Many a Mac user happily switched to Keyboard Maestro even though the interface was fairly different but interestingly many of the same activities could be performed.
Numerous Requirements: One Tool
To assist you in your computing endeavour’s many tools have been developed to do this. There are the launchers. The two most important of these is Launchbar and Alfred. They do very similar things with just a slightly different twist. They both launch applications dynamically (Keyboard Maestro can launch applications and then do many things with an app). It is very driven by a very powerful indexing engine which makes it very fast.
Alfred is a powerful Launcher which is way more than a launcher. If you’re a good scripter you can do a lot with Alfred. In essence, you can build workflows that are somewhat like applications. However, to fair, Launchbar provides a similar capability.
Alfred and Launchbar are the two main apps for launching apps and doing other things with your apps. They are both good and the preference for one over the other would rest with you scripting capabilities.
Keyboard Maestro Kills It
Keyboard Maestro’s strength is in it’s flexibility. If you had only one application to choose from in this roster, I would choose from Keyboard Maestro. It can basically do all of the functions of any of these applications plus applications I haven’t touch on. Keyboard Maestro has no problem:
- being a launcher of commercial applications
- a launcher of custom built applications actually created in say AppleScript
- a launcher of Keyboard Maestro apps
- a text expander
- a Quickeys mastery tool
- multiple cut and paste clipboard of all variety
- commands just like a programing language to enable Keyboard Maestro to, in essence, run programs
- run automator routines and ones that run fully inside Keyboard Maestro
- AppleScript a routines that run within Keyboard Maestro or branch off Keyboard Maestro
- login to websites and carry out full functions
Standalone or in Combination
For some, they prefer some of their apps that are specifically built for the function at hand. Keyboard Maestro, just because it provides the functionality of a specific app designed for that function, precludes nothing. If you happen to like using say TextExpander for text expansions go ahead. In fact, you might have a Keyboard Maestro routine that uses TextExpander in the Keyboard Maestro routine.
This goes for the launchers and other things. The key point is Keyboard Maestro itself can pretty well do it all. It’s a very powerful macro program with a vast repertoire of activities. It’s also easy to use.
To invoke anything in Keyboard Maestro you can have a key assignment right through to some textual command to trigger Keyboard Maestro. An example of this might be>;bank1< launches a sequence that logs you into your bank and goes to a specific page in which you can do what you require.
You can go a step further but make things much easier by having macro palettes. These are basically menus of actions you assign to a button. As you can see, the limitations around just everything running on the keyboard are being quickly dispersed.
If it Doesn’t, it Should
The waxing and waning of macro utilities should come to an end. Keyboard Maestro is a very powerful utility which is not much different than a programming language but it is a way easier to use. Since you can do so much with it, it is a very cost effective solution, not being very expensive in the first place.
It’s hard to put an exact finger on when macro programs seemed to go into decline or exactly why. Keyboard Maestro is a program that can resurrect one of the most useful utilities for the Mac. Try to think of something and see if Keyboard Maestro can’t assist, maybe with a little AppleScript or Automator or not, accomplish your goal then saving you a ton of time not having to repeat the process over and over. It is definitely a productivity enhancer; a time saver something which we all need at the end of the day.