Keyboard Maestro 9: Automate Everything On Your Mac
Utility • Sept.28, 2019
Those seeking ultimate productivity tend to choose Mac OS. The smooth and seamless user interface, integrated apps and iCloud functionality offer considerable value. Yet the tools integrated into this already streamlined platform can be further enhanced through automation. While appealing, the concept of automation can seem complex.
Yet there are some really cool programmes are out there to make automation easy, help simplify your workflow, and get the most out of your Mac. Keyboard Maestro is one of the best macOS automation tools available. A major update to the programme has just been launched, so this is the perfect time for TheSweetBits to give you an insight into this application, its capabilities, and a run-down of possible usage scenarios.
What is Keyboard Maestro?
Keyboard Maestro is a Mac automation and productivity software. Compared to the in-built automation tool in macOS, Keyboard Maestro offers a plethora of options. Once you give the permission, Keyboard Maestro would allow you to automate almost everything in your Mac. Want to mute volume when you add another audio output? Want to open Google Chrome tabs through a new gesture? Keyboard Maestro can help you all there.
Compared to other macOS automation software out there, Keyboard Maestro is very feature rich. You don’t have to worry about lack of features once you start using it. That is one of the reasons why we considered it for a detailed review. As you may have noticed, we had covered a few tools you can use for automating the macOS experience.
What’s new in Keyboard Maestro 9?
We understand that some of you are already familiar with Keyboard Maestro. If you are running the previous version of the program, though, you may want to upgrade. As it turns out, the latest version of the software has something to offer.
Taking inspiration from the latest version of macOS, Dark Mode is here. You can not only enable Dark Mode in the Keyboard Maestro interface but also trigger actions. For instance, you can schedule dark mode as per application-based activities.
Images to Text
Keyboard Maestro has been very well at handling images, but that’s getting better with Keyboard Maestro 9. Now, you are able to extract text content from an image you have. In an ideal environment, you can set up an action based on the text content inside.
Multiple Editor Windows
Instead of one, you now have multiple editor windows. This is great if you want to create complex macros in Keyboard Maestro. You will be able to open a macro in one window and create one macro in another. You would love it if you have been using Keyboard Maestro for some time.
One of the best surprises in the update is the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) action. The new OCR features allow you to select the entire screen to OCR. That’s right, the action extracts text from images to the clipboard. No need for a separate application to covert a scanned or image to editable text.
We think these are awesome. As always, Keyboard Maestro 9 offers the best macro management experience for most people. Let’s see the standard options in the following review.
Getting started with Keyboard Maestro 9
Installing and setting up Keyboard Maestro is as easy as a piece of cake. You can download the program from the official website even if you’re on free trial. Installation takes around a few moments. You will notice that Keyboard Maestro would be running a menu-bar item as well. This provides quick access to the macros and other settings in the program.
To start making macros or use the already-available ones, you have to launch the main interface. As you can see, the interface of Keyboard Maestro is split into three sections — Macro Groups, Macros and Details. In the first pane, you can categorize macros according to the type. In the second, you can record and save new macros. In the third, you can see the trigger-action combo and other details of each macro.
As you can see, Keyboard Maestro 9 comes with a good collection of pre-designed macros. Some of these are for image manipulation while most of them deal with clipboard data. The point they’re trying to make is that you can create a wonderful variety of macros using Keyboard Maestro. This goes to such an extent that you can trigger certain macros using a keyboard hotkey.
Long story short, it’s incredibly easy to get started with Keyboard Maestro.
A word on UI
The User Interface of Keyboard Maestro, as you have seen, is highly intuitive. It does not force you into using codes or algorithms. All you have to do is to select the right triggers and actions from the menu. Talking of that, there are hundreds of triggers based on various sources/input methods. Once you have made the right selection, there are ways to trigger the macros as well.
On any day, we’d give a 5-star review for the User Interface. Compared to the other automation tools we’ve seen; Keyboard Maestro does not compromise features for the sake of simple UI. It has managed to blend a wonderful UX and plethora of automation options. It’s pretty great that, despite all its simplicity, Keyboard Maestro can do both the simplest and toughest jobs.
Kudos, developers. And, the Dark Mode does wonders.
Automating your Mac using Keyboard Maestro 9
We really want you to understand the simple process of automating macOS using Keyboard Maestro. This is how things would turn out at the basic level.
First, you have to decide where you want to save the macro. You can choose an existing group or go for a custom group. When you create a new group, there won’t be anything. You can begin creating the macro by pressing the + button. Now, you can see something called an Untitled Macro. This is where all the magic happens.
Keyboard Maestro allows you to choose one or more triggers for a macro. As you can see, the options of a trigger are endless. You can choose triggers based on hotkeys, status menu, typed string, drag file, date or time of the day, gesture or folder trigger. For instance, if you choose Application trigger, the action will take place when changes are made to an app — opened, quit, launched, running etc.
In this step, you have to select the action. Click the Add Action button and Keyboard Maestro will show you an incredible collection of options. The collection is so big that you need folders to navigate. For instance, it shows multiple options under each folder. You would find a bunch of playback control options under iTunes Control folder.
In this example, Keyboard Maestro would increase the screen brightness when I launch IINA Media Player. It’s very clear that setting up a macro does not take up much time with Keyboard Maestro.
My personal take on Keyboard Maestro 9
I have tried quite a few macOS automation tools in the past, but either the UI or lack of options has bothered me. Keyboard Maestro is an exception in that it makes life easier. Let me tell you an example. I have multiple internet connections in my room and one of them is proxy-only access. Going to the settings and changing the network location is a boring task every time, but Keyboard Maestro helps me here a lot.
As you can see above, I have created a macro that automatically changes the network location when I have connected to a specific Wi-Fi network. Similarly, there is another macro that reverses the task when I connect back. Now, I can simply toggle between network connections and stop worrying about proxy changes. This is one of the many instances when I find Keyboard Maestro to be awesome.
The point is, I love Keyboard Maestro so much so that I cannot live without the tool in a few weeks. Indeed, you have to keep the program running all the time.
Some noteworthy features
Automation is not the only thing that Keyboard Maestro can do. There are so many additional features. We wanted you to know probably the most useful ones.
A Fully-fledged Clipboard Manager
You may already have a clipboard manager installed on your Mac, but Keyboard Maestro brings something much better. This clipboard manager not only stores everything you copy into clipboard but also allows you to apply filters. For instance, you can lowercase the text, rotate image or even OCR image. All these actions are available from an easy-to-use interface as well. It’s called Clipboard History Switcher.
Application and Window Management
If you find the UI for window and app management on macOS to be rudimentary, you’d love what Keyboard Maestro has to offer. The tool offers custom interfaces for managing apps and windows that you’ve opened while using the Mac. Application Switcher is a great way to open, manage and quit applications. There is also a Windows Switcher, but we believe this needs work.
Wonderful Image Manipulation
Keyboard Maestro does a wonderful job when it comes to manipulating text and images. You would be able to edit an image and extract content from what’s inside. Keyboard Maestro also allows you to perform OCR, thus searching inside the image. You can even set up Keyboard Maestro to perform calculations by grabbing data from different sources.
SO MUCH Control
It’s amazing to see that Keyboard Maestro can control different aspects of your Mac with complete ease. It’s so extensive that you can use the program to manage external websites. If you deal with webpages and the content inside on a regular basis, Keyboard Maestro is the best shot you have. And, you can use creativity to decide the level of customization.
Another good thing about Keyboard Maestro is that it does not want you to start from the scratch. There is an extensive collection of actions and triggers you can choose from. Actions, you have to note, offer ample amount of customizability as well. You would be able to set up the actions in loop, based on if-then strings and a lot more combinations.
These features make Keyboard Maestro more than a typical macOS automation tool you may come across. It is also worth noting that there is a well-active forum of Keyboard Maestro users as well. You can visit these resources to know what’s new with Keyboard Maestro macros.
About the learning curve
We’re sorry for the potential misuse of term, but Keyboard Maestro has some level of learning curve. Indeed, you don’t have to learn how to code or how to handle the core ideas. You will, however, have to learn how to add that creative part.
You should know which actions and triggers to choose according to your needs. There are obviously some common macros. For instance, you saw the one where your Mac will increase the volume when a player is launched. Apart from that, you can use the power of Clipboard Manager and System Manager to customize the entire macOS experience.
Getting used to the plenty of options in Keyboard Maestro can take some time, even for those who’ve used macOS automation tools before. But that’s an effort that would pay you back in the right time. If you’re still wondering if Keyboard Maestro is good enough, the answer is YES.
Keyboard Maestro is a paid software but there is a free trial you can check out.
One-time purchase of Keyboard Maestro 9 would cost you $36. However, if you have the previous version of Keyboard Maestro with you, you can upgrade to Version 9 for just $25. Bonus, if you have the version 8 of Keyboard Maestro, you get the whole deal for $18.
The pricing is surely reasonable compared to the control you have on your Mac.
The bottom line — should I buy Keyboard Maestro?
You should definitely buy Keyboard Maestro 9 if you are looking for a wonderful macOS automation tool. It is a definite upgrade from the version 8 of Keyboard Maestro, and there is so many awesome features. We’d really liked how we can use multiple macro windows for management. Last but not least, you will surely get the best results if you make the right macros.