Do you relish simplifying your workflow and automating the trivial tasks on your Mac — the ones you need to perform often? Well, if you do, there’s something for you to cheer about in this article. A utility tool, if you will. Called Keysmith, the utility is essentially an app that allows you to create custom shortcuts for your Mac and the web. Thus, enabling you to perform actions quickly via the keyboard, without having to lift your hands off, and in turn, prevent disruption in the flow.
One of the preferred working methodologies for a lot of ‘power’ users — those indulging in editing, scripting, and coding — at large, is the reliance on the keyboard to perform most of the actions/operations on the machine, without having to move hands on-and-off between the keyboard and the mouse/trackpad. For, the ability to perform actions is considerably convenient on a keyboard as opposed to a mouse. And it is for this reason that most developers prefer a command-line interface over graphical and video editors swear by macro keyboards.
What is Keysmith?
Keysmith is a third-party Mac utility that makes it easy for you to create keyboard shortcuts for Mac and web apps. You can pretty much have a shortcut for any of the system apps or third-party apps on Mac, as well as the popular web apps that you use very often. The idea behind the utility is to make it possible to have shortcuts for apps/services that are otherwise not offered in them by default.
To help you understand better, consider the case of opening incognito mode on Chrome. You can open the app and use the incognito mode shortcut to open a new incognito mode. Or, if you know macOS scripting, you can create a script that opens the browser in incognito mode every time you launch it. But with Keysmith, you can take things even further and automate the entire thing by creating a shortcut to open Chrome in the incognito mode that triggers the incognito script, and have a key binding that makes running the shortcut even easier.
While some may suggest that a shortcut with the same functionality can be created by binding the incognito script to a key from the Keyboard settings, there is only so much you can get out of it, not to mention the ability to create shortcuts for deeply-integrated services and web apps, available on Keysmith.
Of course, this is just one of the many instances where you can use Keysmith to simplify actions to improve your workflow. You can also perform basic operations like opening certain apps or go overboard with automation and have shortcuts to run more Apple scripts like the ones to resize images, convert images, etc.
How does Keysmith work?
Keysmith works by seeing what actions you perform once you hit the record button. To do this, it records your steps, processes them, and converts them into an understandable format. If you want, you can make changes to these steps. Unlike other shortcut utilities, which require you to build a sequence of actions to create a shortcut, Keysmith only requires you to hit the record button and start performing the action (you want to have the shortcut for), as you would normally, to record the steps involved.
The utility records all the clicks and keyboard entries you make as soon as you hit the record button. For all the various actions on Mac, it uses the accessibility APIs to recognize and register the operations corresponding to a clicked location. On the other hand, when it comes to web apps, the utility currently only works on Google Chrome via an extension to identify the location of buttons, windows, etc. and register appropriate steps while recording the shortcut. The developers suggest they are planning to introduce support for Firefox and Safari soon.
How to create a shortcut with Keysmith?
As mentioned in the previous section, Keysmith involves recording the steps you perform for an action you want to record. So, once you download the Keysmith app and grant it Accessibility permissions, follow the subsequent steps to create a shortcut.
1. Open Keysmith and click on the New Shortcut button from the left pane.
2. Click on the red record button on the right window to start recording.
3. Once the app starts recording, perform the steps you would normally do to complete the action you want to create the shortcut for. Click the Stop Recording button when you are done.
4. In the Keysmith app, you will have all the steps you just performed listed in the same order of sequence. You can also alter these steps if you want or click on the Run button to view the running sequence of the shortcut.
5. Now, click on Untitled to name your shortcut. And, tap on the Set HotKey button right below that to bind a shortcut key.
You should now be able to run the shortcut using the hotkey from anywhere on your Mac.
Now, to create a shortcut for a web app, you need to have the Keysmith Chrome extension installed on your machine. When you download and install the Keysmith app, you should get a prompt to install the extension. However, in case you skipped past it, you can download the extension from the Chrome Web Store separately. Once added, you can create a web app shortcut with the help of the following steps.
1. Open the web app you want to create a shortcut for in Google Chrome and log in.
2. Click on the red record button on the Keysmith app to start recording.
3. Perform the steps for the action you want to execute using the shortcut. Make any changes to the steps (if required).
4. Tap on Untitled in the right window and give a name to the shortcut. And click on the Set HotKey button below it and enter a key combination (or a single key).
5. Finally, tap on the button next to HotKey and select the name of the web app you want the shortcut to run inside.
Now, whenever you want to perform the action, you just created a shortcut for, hit the associated key combination to execute it.
What are some use-cases of Keysmith?
With Keysmith, you can create shortcuts for a range of actions across various apps (system as well as third-party), system actions, and even some web apps. To give you an idea of its prowess, you can have shortcuts to open different apps on your machine, launch Chrome in incognito mode, open Finder folders, connect/disconnect headphones, toggle dark mode, open certain websites, among other actions.
If you are a developer and use Git to manage projects, you can create a shortcut to start a new pull request (PR), merge PR requests, or even commit the changes. Moreover, as mentioned at the beginning, you can create shortcuts to execute scripts created on Automator or Apple Script.
Keysmith recently got featured on Product Hunt — a product sharing and discovery platform. It is available to download for free over at keysmith.app. The service offers two plans: Free and Paid. With the Free plan, you get access to all the features but with a limitation of only five shortcuts, whereas the paid plan, which comes in at $29, offers the ability to create unlimited shortcuts. So, if you are interested, you can try out the Free version, with access to all the features, first, before spending your money.
In terms of other third-party utilities, there is also the popular Keyboard Maestro app for Mac, which gives you the ability to automate virtually any aspect of your machine. So, if Keysmith falls short of your expectations, though it is still in the nascent stage, you can check out Keyboard Maestro.