How Keyboard Maestro Saves Me Tons of Time at Work

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 4 min read

You’ve probably heard a million times how great Keyboard Maestro is, but you likely have the same question as everyone else: this seems cool, but I don’t know how to use it. I can’t tell you how you should use it, but I can show you a few examples of how I get work done with it at my job as a product designer at an e-commerce company.

Text Expansion

Keyboard Maestro has most of the powerful text expansion features you’ll get from TextExpander, and I think that’s a great place to start. I enter a lot of fake credit card numbers throughout the day, so I have these set up:

Shortcut Value
;v 4111111111111111
;m 5431111111111111
;a 341111111111111
;d 6011601160116611

I also have a few that might be more universally useful. For example, I have “@@” expand to my work email address and “;uu” expand to “UAT complete” since I need to write that on every task that goes through me in our task management system. I also have “ddate” expand to the current date in the format YYYY-MM-DD since I need to write that quite a bit as well.

Simulating a Card Swipe

This is pretty old school tech, but it’s something I need to test every now and again, but this text expansion lets me simulate a credit card swipe through an unencrypted keyboard emulation card reader. These are pretty darn rare these days because they’re not as secure as other readers, but they exist and it’s sometimes useful to be able to test it out.

Logging into a Site

Sure, things like 1Password and LastPass usually handle this sort of thing, but I log into the same URL with a bunch of different username/password combos and those tools don’t handle that situation as elegantly, or as quickly as I’d like. The screenshot above is of one login, but there are 3 more I use with different keyboard shortcuts.

Search Jira

This one gets a little more fun, as there is a query I need to run in Jira every Monday and Wednesday. I run it a few times, and it’s just easier to enter a URL to find it.

Sadly, the date needs to update every time I run this, so saving a bookmark doesn’t work. This action calculates the current date, adds one day (since I’m looking for the release on the following day), and opens a URL with that specific date appended. This is so much easier than using Jira’s search UI to do repetitive searches.

Open a URL from the Terminal

This one gets a little more crazy, but the gist of this one is that I set up repositories with specific branches of a project. I have a script that runs and spits out a URL I can use.

This action, which I run with a keyboard shortcut, opens my terminal app Hyper, CTRL+clicks a link and copies it, then opens Chrome, goes to that URL with some text appended, and then logs in as the test account I always use.

This is very specific to me, but this one can serve as inspiration for how far you can push Keyboard Maestro.

Run a Terminal Script with User Input

This one gets even more wild. This one asks me what branch I want to set up for testing. I get prompted with a text field when this runs and I enter a task number into the field. This then runs the script I need, finds the repository I need, and sets it up.

I’m super proud of this one as it can be something I do dozens of times per day and takes a minute or so each time if I do it manually. This takes about 3 seconds and feels like magic.

Convert Clipboard to Plain Text

And finally we’re back to simple one: this simply takes whatever is in the clipboard and converts it to plain text. Boom, simple.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and I can strongly recommend the MacSparky Field Guide if you want to learn everything there is to know, but maybe one or two of these gave you ideas for what you could do with Keyboard Maestro. It’s one of the best software purchases I’ve made in recent years, so the least I can do is try and help others figure out what makes it so amazing.