I am not much of a script or macro person, never have been. There are some Apps out there that make it fairly easy to create a macro on your Mac. I use this type of functionality to streamline some type of workflow usually. The App I use for this purpose these days is Keyboard Maestro from Stairways Software. I have done one other article on Keyboard Maestro; it may help fill in the blanks before reading this one. I wanted to show you a macro I created with Keyboard Maestro to streamline a process on my Mac.
Keyboard Maestro Interface
The Keyboard Maestro interface can be a bit daunting. You start by clicking on the plus symbol to create a new Macro. Then, when you click on “New Action” in the Macro window a list of possible actions appears in the left side of the window:
You click on a “Category” and all the Actions for that category appear. Trust me on this, there are tons of Actions. You can do almost anything with Keyboard Maestro. Once you have your Macro all set you have to assign a keyboard shortcut to activate it.
You may be saying, “but I am not a macro, coding type of person.” I know what you mean, I am not either. So, let me show you how I made my most current macro with Keyboard Maestro.
I use 1Password on my Mac to keep track of all my passwords, credit cards and other good stuff. Even though I am working from a home office, I still put a time limit on how soon 1Password goes into lock mode. That may seem like overkill, but we have people over from time to time and I cannot risk having pretty much ALL my logins and financial stuff compromised.
The problem with this is, if I am away from my Mac for a while I have to login to 1Password to use it. This is a bit annoying, so I built a Macro in Keyboard Maestro to do it for me. Here is the Macro in it’s entirety minus the password of course.
Before you look at this and say, “Are you kidding me?!” Here is how I use Keyboard Maestro. If you are a code type person, you can go to the Actions area and build a Macro from scratch. However, what I do is to use the “Record” function (bottom of the window) to let Keyboard Maestro record my process. So, for my 1Password Macro I turned on Record, activated PathFinder, activated 1Password, inserted the Master password, and hit the “Return” key.
When finished, I stopped recording and tested the Macro, it did not work. So, I opened the Macro in Keyboard Maestro and added a “Pause” for 5 seconds after the “Return” key and it started working. After using the Macro for a bit I added the “Hide Path Finder” Action.
Now, when I hit the F16 key Path Finder opens, 1Password opens, the Master is entered, 1Password boots up for 5 seconds, then quits, and Path Finder closes. This all happens very quickly.
Here is my recommendation for how to use Keyboard Maestro. Figure out what type of workflow you wish to record, write it down if you have to do so. Use the Record function to record your steps. After stopping the recording test the Macro. It may work right out of the box, but more than likely you will have to add or tweak a step in the Keyboard Maestro editor. You can experiment with the recording and the editing. It gets easier as you play around with it. Also, Keyboard Maestro has some good help files, tutorials and troubleshooting articles.
I do not use Keyboard Maestro a ton. Not all the processes on my Mac are automated, but a few of them are and they all save me time and hassle. You can purchase Keyboard Maestro from their website for $36. Considering how powerful it is, I think it is worth that price. It is really cool and very efficient to automate stuff on your Mac. I think Keyboard Maestro is the “Automator” for the rest of us.