I consider myself a Mac power user. I love OS X and I'm very comfortable with it. Nevertheless, I'm also a geek, seeking to improve and enhance my experience, to boost my productivity and do more with less. That's also the philosophy behind my current product.
A couple of months ago, I discovered Keyboard Maestro (KM), a general purpose macro program for Mac. It is probably not the prettiest Mac app I came across. The macro editor could use some refinement and the icons it uses can make your eyes bleed. Yet, it gets the job done. Big time. It is very lightweight, not adding more bulk to your bloated OS. It is easy to use and encourages you to add macros and improve your workflow. It quickly became an essential part of my arsenal.
You can read about it on the product web site. I also recommend the Mac AppStorm review, published a couple of weeks ago. Me, I'm just going to share some of the macros I personally use. This should give you some ideas as to what you might do. Most are really easy to implement once you're familiar with KM unless stated otherwise (e.g. where I used AppleScript). If you have particular question on how I implemented something, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll share my implementation.
The macros are bound to a keyboard shortcut or to the KM menu. You can also assign them to a floating buttons palette. Some may argue that most of these actions can be achieved simply with the Keyboard control panel. That's not exactly the same. For example, take my "plain text paste": turn the cmd+V to paste without the formatting and shift+cmd+V to regular paste. This can be done from the Keyboard preferences for all apps that support "Paste and Match Style" in the Edit menu. Many apps do. However, it will not work it dialog boxes where the menu is disabled. With KM it will work just fine if you use the right sequence of actions. You get my point, this just works better and has far more options.
- The home/end buttons work on my Mac as they should. Enough said...
- Zoom Window. Again, critically missing.
- I usually work with two display, so I have shortcuts for zooming on the primary display and on the secondary.
- I have shortcuts for placing the window in the left/right half of the screen, for viewing files side-by-side.
- Copy front window path. A simple AppleScript that copies the unix path of the front window to the clipboard. Programmers and other Terminal users should appreciate this.
- Turned Paste to plain text paste for most applications. The original paste gets its' own shortcut.
- There's a built-in clipboard history which I use and love. There are many utilities for that, but KM is simple and gets the job done.
Chrome and web browsing
- New Chrome window - simple keyboard shortcut saves you from reaching for the Dock, right clicking, etc.
- Open the selection - No matter where you are, it will copy the selection and past it the address bar of a new Chrome tab. If it's a URL, the URL opens. If it is not, Chrome will Google it for you. Very handy.
- Open incognito - opens the current window/tab in an incognito window. I use it for testing my web site, see how it looks like to non-registered users.
- Quit turned to close - too many times, I hit cmd+Q instead of cmd+W. I decided to simply cancel the quit and turn it into close.
- Paste Link - assuming you have a URL in your clipboard, will add this as a link of the currently selected text.
- Skip track in last.fm - I use the official Mac Last.fm client, rather than the Flash based web site. I assigned a shortcut that will skip the current track.
- Paste in new HTML file - this macro will create a new HTML file, paste the clipboard in the body area and apply HTML tidy on it. If you are using a CMS (I use Drupal), but wish to use TextMate to edit your content, this is a great time saver.
- New note - will open a new note for editing. This will open the specific note window rather than the Evernote main interface (notes list). I use Evernote like a text editor and this simply creates a new "file" quickly. It takes some AppleScript to do this, I will write a blog post about it.
- Export to HTML - takes the note, converts it to HTML and exports it to a TextMate HTML file. It also formats the file and removes many unnecessary tags. Again, some AppleScript hacking here.
- Typing shift+cmd+return will add a semicolon before moving to the next line.
That's it for now. I hope this gives you some ideas. You can find more example macros on the product web site. If you have some useful Macros that you've written yourself, you are welcome to share in the comments. Personally, I think the author of KM should cultivate a wiki of useful macros, but that's a different subject.