2-button hotkeys/modes in Keyboard Maestro?

Hello, really sorry to bother people, but hoping that I can get some help on an enquiry I have.

I'm looking to move my editing station from Windows to Mac in the not-too-distant future, and as I'm very ingrained with AHK, it's my only major reservation for buying a Macbook Pro yesterday. From what I can see, Maestro does everything I'd hope to achieve in cases like searching for an image, moving my mouse, etc. But there's one specific process that searching for has come to no real results.

In AutoHotkey I've been able to stack hotkeys on hotkeys by making the process ask for 2 inputs; e.g. F1 followed by F1 adds a specific effect, but F1 followed by F6 applies a drop shadow. It's massively expanded the amount of macros I can apply to the function keys, not including shift & ctrl/cmd in conjuction to these.

I have it under the process of applying 'modes' to a lot of my initial keys, with the next input deciding what macro is being used, and I was wondering if by chance anyone on here has come across that? In searching the forum and browsing the topics similar to mine, it doesn't seem like it's come up, so I hope that this can maybe find someone who has done something similar, or can offer advice. I'd love to be able to test it myself, but without having a Mac that makes it a little bit difficult.

Thank you for any input or advice.

Hi and welcome to the forum! :wave:t3:

There are a few ways to do this. The first that springs to mind is to trigger a pallete with the first hotkey and a macro shown in the pallete with the second. This should get you started:


...and this may come in handy:

1 Like

Wonderful, thank you so much for the response and resource. I'll look into it right now. Much appreciated!


You've made the right choice with KM and this forum is the secret sauce. Enjoy! :+1:t3:


I've had a think and actually the best solution for this particular circumstance is probably:

  1. Create a New Macro Group:

    • In the left pane, click on the "+" button at the bottom to create a new Macro Group.
    • Name the Macro Group and set it to be available for the editor in question.
    • In the right pane, under "Macros Activate", choose "Shows a palette for one action when:" and add a hotkey trigger (this is hotkey number 1, as per your question).
  2. Add Macros to the Group:

    • Either create new macros within this group or drag existing macros into the group from other macro groups.
  3. Define Hotkey Triggers:

    • For each macro you want to trigger via a hotkey:

      • Click on the macro to select it.
      • Click the "Add Trigger" button (it looks like a green plus symbol).
      • Choose "Hot Key Trigger".
      • Define the hotkey you want to use for the macro. These can be thought of as hotkey number 2.
    • By default, Keyboard Maestro shows the hotkey triggers next to the macro names in the palette.

    • If they aren’t showing, ensure that you've assigned a hotkey trigger to each macro you want to have a displayed hotkey.

    • If they still aren't showing up, click on Palette Style and ensure that Trigger is ticked:

Now, whenever your editor is at the front and you press hotkey number 1, the palette will show up with all the macros and their associated hotkey triggers.

Therefore, hotkey number 1 followed by hotkey number 2 will give you the desired result, with the added benefit of a visual reminder of all your secondary hotkeys.


welcome to the forum, @lrrobin38!

Since you don't yet have a Mac to test with, here are some screenshots demonstrating what (I believe) you're looking for:

  1. This is a Macro Group containing macros that are dormant until I press the hot key to bring up a palette (see Show Palette for One Action)

  2. When I trigger the palette with the macro group hot key, this is what it looks like:

  3. I can then trigger any of those macros with a designated hot key. Here's one example:

Palettes are incredibly powerful; this is a relatively simple example.

If there is any part of your workflow that isn't represented here, I'm sure the lovely people in this forum can help work it out.


(or, in other words, roughly demonstrating what @noisneil has just meticulously drafted above :sweat_smile:)