KeyCue 8 - an Overview

I've been a fan of Ergonis Software for some time now. They've got some great applications, notably Typinator, PopChar X/Win and the focus of my piece today, which is the incomparable KeyCue 8.

I first used Key Cue around a little under a year ago because I'm a shortcut junkie. I love to use the keyboard as much as possible when I'm manoeuvring my way around applications and editing documents. Yet there are only so many shortcuts I can commit to muscle memory at any one time. This is where Key Cue comes in. With a simple key press, all of the shortcuts for the active application (as well as core shortcuts for the System) can be displayed on-screen.

I'd love to know how much time this application has saved me this year.

Version 8 of KeyCue extends the ability of the application yet further, with the ability to omit known shortcuts from the display, focusing instead on those you aren't already aware of, as well as tthe ability to create flexible triggers and actions. There is more to KeyCue now than ever before.

Shortcut Table

Let's start with the bread and butter. KeyCue 8 is, in essence, an application for displaying available shortcuts to users. By default, the table is presented on screen when pressing for just over a second. This is a great key to use as you have to use this key for the majority of shortcuts in OS X anyway. Now, you press it and if you can't remember the shortcut you were trying to invoke, then BANG, it's on the screen in front of you. Great stuff.

  • Byword (my current application),
  • System (showing generic system shortcuts available now)
  • Macros are a list of shortcuts for macros that can be activated with one of the following applications:
    • Keyboard Maestro (version 3.0 or higher)
    • QuicKeys (version 4 or higher)
    • iKey (version 2.5 or higher)
      You can choose to enable/disable any of the sections from view within the Preferences for KeyCue, which we will move onto soon.


The screen above shows a lot of shortcuts and it could be easily to dismiss this as being far too busy to be practical. However if you hover the cursor over the search box at the bottom of the menu window, you will be able to type in a search term. Any shortcuts available that match the text you are typing will be highlighted in yellow, making it much easier to dig out the shortcut you require. You can also hover over the highlighted command and single click to activate that shortcut.


The main configuration of KeyCue comes from within the Activation tab in Preferences.

Split into two panes, you can configure the Trigger on the left hand side and it's corresponding Action on the right. There are three different ways you can activate the trigger: Long Press, 2 x Press and the KeyCue icon. You can also choose which key modifier you can use to activate. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that for the first three Triggers I have:

  • A long press on the ctrl key for 1 second that will show the macro shortcuts available (for me, within Keyboard Maestro)
  • 2 x presses of the key will show the menu shortcuts for the application I'm on as well as the system-wide shortcuts
  • A long press on the key will show all three sections of shortcuts.

It's worth noting that the third one is in hands-free mode, meaning that once the shortcuts are displayed, I can take my hands off of the keyboard and they remain on-screen until such a time as I press the esc key. The default is for the menu to disappear as soon as you release the trigger keys.

There are four different actions that you can configure:

  • Shortcut Table (already discussed)
  • Frequently used URLs
  • Settings window for KeyCue
  • A menu for quick access to some of KeyCue's settings.

Personally, I don't touch the bottom two actions there, however I was surprised to see the the Frequently Used URLs action has gained a lot of use over the last couple of weeks. Adding URLs to a native text file (accessible by the Edit URLs... button) creates a list of addresses that can be accessed by a quick key press and clicked on from the resulting menu. Very efficient.


I won't go into a lot of detail here, suffice to say there are options to tweak the output on screen to your own personal taste. I keep the defaults here, they suit my purpose well. Highlighting matches is my most important setting here because I use the Search option frequently. The other changes are purely cosmetic and affect how much text is displayed on the screen as well as the order.


There are built-in themes available as well as more that can be downloaded from Ergonis's download site.


The Custom tab is great because it allows you to garner some real control over the content displayed in KeyCue. You can add shortcuts for applications that are not compatible (very few), create your own wording to existing shortcuts but most importantly for me, you can omit shortcuts.

I'll use the above screenshot as an example. We all know the Copy shortcut, right? ⌘+C? So do we need it to be displayed, taking up valuable space on the screen when we are looking for a shortcut that we actually want? I think not. Well, with the clever use of adding Groups (in the above case, Edit) and Shortcuts (here, it's Copy), you can tell KeyCue to ignore certain shortcuts - or 'mute' them so to speak - either for a specific application, or system-wide.

Key Cue has evolved greatly since version 7 and I cannot recommend it enough to all of you shortcut junkies out there. Version 8 takes shortcuts to a new level and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

KeyCue 8 currently retails for €19.99 for a single licence and €29.99 for a family licence of up to 5 installs