Syncing Macros with Keyboard Maestro

Syncing Macros with Keyboard Maestro

Those of you who regularly visit my blog can’t fail to have noticed that I’ve been reasonably quiet over the last few months! It’s been a busy time, that’s for sure, with lots of work, involving both coaching and consultancy. This has led to a change in my setup and workflows and I can’t wait to share some of this with you - which I will, in good time. 

One of the main changes has been moving into a new office space. No more camping out on the kitchen table when working from home - I need room and, most importantly, separation from my young children so as to maximise my work time. 

I picked up a refurbished iMac for the office, so as to keep my MacBook Pro for travelling and delivering workshops and I think there may be at least fifty different posts I could write about working from two different machines! 

One of the first things I’d noticed was the sheer number of Keyboard Maestro macros that I had developed over the last few years on my MacBook Pro. So many! Some are as simple as keyboard shortcuts for applications, others are more complex that will run a script automatically at a given time. It’s fair to say that I didn’t fancy re-creating these, so I started looking at the easiest way to export them in bulk and transfer them to my new machine. 

This process is easy enough, however I quickly realised that as soon as I created a new macro on one machine, I’d need to export/import it onto the other. 

I know what you’re thinking as you read this - it’s true, I can be amazingly thick at times. Of course an application as advanced as Keyboard Maestro is going to have some form of real-time synchronisation available. 

This is how you set it up:

1 - Open Preferences within Keyboard Maestro on the source machine (this will be the machine that has the most up-to-date version of all of your macros)

2 - On the General tab, select the option for syncing Macros

3 - You will be asked whether you wish to create a new file, or open an existing one. As this is the first machine of the pair, select Create New and choose a location to store the sync file. This needs to be a cloud storage provider in order to allow the file to be read from the different locations. As I use iCloud Drive, I created a folder called Keyboard Maestro Macros and stored the file in there. 

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4 - On the secondary machine, check the box for Sync Macros and this time select Open Existing. Navigate to the sync file and click OK. You will be warned that all of your macros will be overwritten. No bother, just accept. 

Now, whenever you make any amendments to your Keyboard Maestro macros on one machine, they will be replicated to the other. 

Mouse Display with Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro is a great tool for automating commonly used actions on the Mac. These actions can be invoked in many different ways, from a standard keystroke, script invokation or through application and system actions. It's VERY powerful and I'm planning a deep dive into this amazing piece of software over the course of the coming months.

It's currently in Version 7 and this upgrade brought about some great additions to it's already bulky feature-set. The one I want to bring to your attention is called Mouse Display.

When creating certain macros, there are times where you may wish to automate the clicking of the mouse button when the cursor is in a certain position on the screen - it could be for a button on webpage, activating a menu - anything that involves physically clicking the mouse/trackpad in a specific place. However, guessing the co-ordinates that needed to be entered was always a problem.

This is now a far simpler process. Simply open Keyboard Maestro and select Window -> Mouse Display (or click ⌘+5).

You will be presented with a small pop-up window that has, on the left hand side, a minitature screen display for you to select your relative corner (co-ordinates are only accurate based on the corner of the screen defined as 'home'), a padlock icon, co-ordinate numbers and clipboards.

The way I gather my co-ordinates is to select the top left of either the whole desktop, or the running application (dependant on my macro's needs) and then select the padlock icon. This then gives me five seconds to place my cursor on the desired location. Once that is done, and the countdown timer is completed, I click the clipboard icons and copy the co-ordinates to my macro.

I'm so pleased that the developer included this functionality. It's been requested on the forums for a while and it's clear that, as users, we are listened to and our comments are taken seriously. It garners a lot of faith and trust in the product and, in turn, loyalty - I love it!

Modifying CapsLock on OS X

I'm currently undergoing something of a 'Notes' renaissance. I'm trying to move myself away from Evernote and develop a systems that allows me to store all of my notes both in plain text, and in plain sight of any application that needs to access them. 

To this end, I've now settled on [nvALT] from the great Brett Terpstra as my go-to Notes application on my Mac. 

Now another thing I'm trying to improve on, is my use of keyboard shortcuts and macros to open applications. The problem I find is, like many of you, the shortcuts I try to use are already taken, globally, somewhere else. Well, thanks to this great link from the aforementioned Brett Terpstra, I've been able to decommission my Caps Lock key and change it's function. Now, when I press Caps Lock, it will simulate a fn+ctrl+alt+cmd keystroke instead. This is so, so handy!! Now, a simple depression of Caps Lock + n will bring nvALT to the foreground and I can start capturing and, as well as this, I've configured Keyboard Maestro to open applications with two keys, Caps Lock + whichever one I see fit. 

There are some updates to the post to note. The first application Brett references is PCKeyboardHack which is now known as Seil and KeyRemap4MacBook is now known as Karabiner, however the process required to create the key-mapping stays constant. 

I'm not going to describe how to do the remapping here - Brett deserves the hits on his post and credit so please, click here if you want to make your Caps Lock key, well, useful!

Excellent Resource for Keyboard Maestro resources

Upon my usual evening browse for productivity resources on my Mac, I came across this fantastic site by Matt Gemmell. Matt is a novelist who hails from Edinburgh, Scotland and has been writing his blog since 2002. 

It is clear from his site that he is a man with a vast array of knowledge in the Mac community and now that I have this site bookmarked, I am certainly looking forward to going through some of his archived material and hopefully, if I can absorb a fraction of the material that Matt clearly has going on in that mind of his then I will be a very happy man indeed. 

Check the site out - it's fantastic. 

Keyboard Maestro - Pausing Downcast

Like many of you, I don't use iTunes as my Podcast app of choice on my Mac device. My app of preference is Downcast. One issue I have, however, is that in order to pause/play the podcast I am currently listening to, I need to find the app, activate it and then press the Space bar in order to take my phone call/watch a YouTube video etc. 

Well a simple Keyboard Maestro macro eradicates this issues. Please see the screenshot below:

The first action simply brings Downcast to the foreground, with the second action pressing the Spacebar. Probably the simplest macro I've ever written, however there is definitely a wealth of applications that this could be used for.