How To Organize Your Macros: Keyboard Maestro & Butler: An Integration


to take these screenshots, instead of pressing command shift 4, I just clicked the icon of a sunrise in my docklet (these are all KM macros that I exported as trigger files, assigned an icon to them and placed them around my monitor. watch:

anyway, I hope that helps...

The crux of it: I export KM macros as trigger files and store them in one 'Trigger' folder. I then drag these triggers into Butler which displays all my KM macros around the perimeter of my monitor, either as words or icons. So: All I have to do is click one or pull down a menu and click.

So: I have a lot of email addresses. If I click on the envelope icon, a pull down menu shows me all the addresses. When I pull down to one of them, that triggers a KM macro that launches a browser, brings up GoDaddy, wipes out the current user name and PW, inputs the current one and brings me to the email address. I also sometimes add prewritten emails. Here:





I'm with you there about typing as a chore and like to have as much option with the cursor as possible when I'm using it. An issue for me with your execution is the distance the cursor travels. With a 27" monitor, even with a highly sped up cursor via BTT, that's a lot of small targets to hit. Maybe fine for Hawkeye and I find it tiresome over time. Having a trackpad gesture to evoke a palette under the cursor saves a lot of aiming and travel time.

Still there is much to glean from your approach and I appreciate your efforts and your sharing them.

What can you do with Butler's fixed location menus that can't be done with KM palettes? Beside the aesthetic pleasure of them, which is important, what do they allow that KM palettes do not?

Thanks Clint!

The ability to click once, on one icon, on one location on your montior, to achieve your single final goal. (Rather than launching a palette, choosing an item in the palette, or pulling down to an item, sliding over, etc., etc.

For example, I have an icon on the perimeter of my monitor, named 'PA.' One click to that icon and I can insert a pause of any duration into a maco I'm creating, as I'm creating it, from .01 seconds to 30 seconds - with one click of the mouse.


Another example: Sometimes I want to clear all Finder boxes, apps and every desktop icon and search my computer using an application using Easy-Find. One click on one icon sitting at the top edge of my monitor achieves this goal. Here's a 10 second video I created to demonstrate this.

Please clarify as this occurs to me as two clicks. One click evokes a list of 23 items (times from .01 seconds to 30 seconds) that wasn't there prior to the click, then a SECOND click to select a time from the list. Then the list disappears after the second click.

If that's the case, I don't see the savings. The icon on the perimeter of the screen is the same (to me) as a menu item in the menu bar at the top of the screen that needs to be located, aimed at, traveled to, and clicked. The appearing list has a bunch of items that needs to be read, a target picked, aimed at, traveled to, and clicked.

How is this different than a list appearing under the current cursor location (evoked by a trackpad gesture or keystroke) like this list of times which is then read, picked, aimed, traveled, and clicked on?

I'm looking closely at all the particular actions my brain needs to coordinate (as far as I can distinguish) and movements needed to execute the command that a particular combination of screen display and cursor set up in a given geometry requires to navigate to issue a command.

For example, if I was looking at a list of 23 items to pick from. Particularly if the items were not as related to each other as a sorted sequence of numbers that internally guides your locating a particular items by its sorting, I would want the list to be clustered around the cursor in a square or circular arrangement to minimize the cursor distance traveled as contrasted to a single line long linear list requiring more travel due to its length. There is also the ease of reading the list and how unrelated list items are spatially related to each other to consider to facilitate locating a particular group if there is a menu/submenu process arrangement. @appleianer has a nice video example of menu/submenu at cursor location here:

Does this make sense? Am I communicating something distinct from what you are saying? I know this is sounding wordy.

The second example looks to me like the same situation. A target in the menu bar needs to be located, traveled to, etc. which when clicked executes a series of steps that would be macro in KM.

I'm not trying to be disagreeable, like I said previously, I like what you are offering, I think I'm just more focused on a particular kinesthetic aspect of menu selecting. Please let me know if you are seeing something different.

Thank you for your engagement.

I appreciate the dialogue. I'll clarify precisely. I hope you trust that I have no investment in selling or promoting my arrangement. I say this because, the one advantage I have over you is that I am executing the actions.

Re the first example. You're incorrect but so was I. The first example is one click. BUT: After the down push of the click there is a movement to the side and down to the length of the pause. Then, the finger lifts and that duration gets inserted. If you disbelieve or disagree, I can make a short video.

Re: the second example, I'm so sorry to say, but you're just plain wrong. Nothing in KM gives affords the quick access I have using Butler to display my KM macros as an icon. An icon of a black magnifying glass always sits on the perimeter of my screen. If I move my cursor to that icon and click it, the macrom that clears finder boxes, all apps and all desktop icons - and then, displays the search tool - is triggerred. Nothing in KM affords this degree of access: Namely, one click on an icon that is always present and the macro is triggered. With KM alone, either you have to pull down the status menu or click to display a palette and then, execute another action.

So sorry, I can't articulate it, any more precisely. If it's not for you, no worries!

Bernsh, If I may, please click the url at the end of my post, immediately before your post above. You'll see an icon and it will say, click the starburst. Click and you will see a video of what I describe above. Thx!

Hey @Clint, I think what I've haven't said clearly is that it's the number of distinct (as I'm distinguishing) ACTIONS that I'm interested in and not the number of clicks however they are counted. To me, moving the cursor to a specific location on the screen, pressing a button to begin a click, then moving the cursor to another specific location on the screen, then releasing the button while over that location, is to me in my thinking, at least four separate actions which could be counted as one click.

To greatly exaggerate for the sake of clarity, if you had a setup where hovering the cursor over an object produced an action, say a window or menu opens or a check box gets checked, or a letter on a onscreen keyboard gets pressed, then you could type an entire book or issue an unlimited number of commands and count them all as occurring within one click.

I hope this clarifies my focus and my apology for being unclear.

Are you aware that you can set KM palettes to be present with any individual app, or specific multiple apps, or always present with all apps?

With the two palette selections below you can have an always onscreen palette that has multiple triggers, each able to execute any series of actions like hide all other apps and then activate a specific app which seems to be what the demo at is doing.

The advantage I see with Butler is that the activating click is located in the menubar whereas with KM, the palettes are always below the menubar and must be coordinated with the windows and their corresponding elements. Still, even with this menubar location advantage comes the, what I consider a disadvantage, of needing to make the trip up to the menubar for the activating click.

In my "action model" of thinking, having a palette appear at the cursor's location is often tho not always a big advantage of saving cursor movement.

Thanks for engaging!

If you have a moment (20 seconds, to be exact), click on the link above. You'll see a starburst. When you click it, you'll watch a 20 second movie of a macro I wrote that (a) launches firefox, (b) goes to this forum and (c) logs me in. The part that Butler contributes is as follows.

A static "F" (for Forum) sits in (what Butler calls) the docklet, at the right side of my screen. If my computer is on, that F will be there. To launch firefox and go to the KM forum and then log in, i simply have to click that "F." As far as I'm aware, the closest you can come to that level of accessibility in KM alone is the status menu and even here, after you you click it (status menu), there's a fair amount of visual motor movement that has to be executed to slide down to the correct macro group and over to the sought after macro.

Whereas, in Butler, anytime, I just click the mouse once on the static F - and the macro executes. One click - no fancy maneuvering of the mouse - just click at a stable location and I'm logged in to the KM forum. That level of accessibility, as far as I'm aware, is unparalleled. Watch the movie and tell me what ya think. Thx for the dialogue as well...... :slight_smile:

I think it’s cool and useful. I’ve tried to use KM with or without 1Password to get one click access to websites and found it too difficult.

It occurs to me without significant time with Butler that Butler has been carefully sculpted to provide access to capabilities in a way that KM has not and like KM, there is a significant time requirement to learn the ways of Butler.

It seems each program’s author reinvents the wheel to a degree, shaping it into their image of how they like things to look and work while also creating pathways to access their work. I think these access/service roads become increasingly important to gain initial critical acceptance to get a project off the ground and then even more so to gain a wider and wider audience depending on the ambitions of the authors.

It’s like so much of Art’s expression showing up in life. Each expression contributes to the others and we’re all the better for it and have greater possibilities arising from each’s artist’s contribution.

Without a good deal of time spent with Butler I don’t consider what I think about comparing Bulter and KM to be useful in the way that others have compared KM to other app as in this well had discussion: Using and Comparing LaunchBar (LB) with Alfred and other Apps.

I think (and boy is this highly specific just to me) that the docklet itself is too intrusive for the functionality it provides, AND it’s useful to have a dedicated always onscreen available space for triggers. I tried an always onscreen “universal/global” palette with KM’s palettes and resized and relocated all the auto window actions to accommodate this but abandoned the idea.

In addition to functionality, as long as I’m not in an emergency situation, I’m moved to having aesthetically pleasing stuff on the screen as well and this docklet is one ugly duckling (sorry and again only in my one opinion). To soften this slightly, I’d say that it’s a work in progress and has the potential with enough loving support and time to be beautiful as well as useful, but that’s not this day.

As I suggested previously to which you haven’t yet referenced, KM can also have an always onscreen palette as well AND the KM palettes are pretty customizable. I’d like to see significantly more customization (see Custom Palette Style Colors?) and as it currently is it’s very workable.

Of course beauty is in the nervous system, experience, and choices of the beholder and mine is only one in around eight billion, so as important as it is to me, I’m clear it doesn’t count for much. :smiley:/:frowning: :wink:

Again, I enjoy and appreciate all your considerable work on interface simplification and utility. Simplification is a beautiful thing.

I’ll continue to follow your work with interest! Please keep it up and keep sharing!

Hi @BernSh

I think it’s cool and useful. I’ve tried to use KM with or without 1Password to get one click access to websites and found it too difficult.

Just got an email notification on that post of yours. Didn’t read your post entirely, just wanted to mention that there is no need to rely on companies like Agilebits.

Check out MacPass which is completely open source and relies on the kdb[x] database, which is also open source. (There are other similar open-source tools for macOS available.)

Being Open Source is a not-negligeable thing, when it comes to security/privacy.

With MacPass (or other open tools) you’ll have a bit less of immediate comfort (than with 1PW), but if you couple MacPass with the macOS’ password manager (Keychain) you get a quite comfortable setup:

Use the OS’ keychain for minor stuff (forum passwords, etc.), keep your critical stuff (bank credentials, etc.) in your kdbx file (which you can sync to any of your devices, of course.)

Of course, it works also completely fine without the macOS’ keychain. MacPass also provides an “auto-insert” shortcut, which might not always work as you expect (without configuring), but it also works with non-Browser logins, e.g. application credentials, and even admin PW queries by the OS. (It’s GUI driven, so you have to adapt it.)

I totally agree. In my case, over the last few years, I'd look at it, find myself feeling befuddled and then, I'd just leave it be. I'm not sure what happened but at some point, I realized, I could use Butler to give me instant access to my KM macros. That's when lightening struck and I really got into it...

It's interesting, I've heard it said that what you can leave be will leave you be.


Those moments of insight, inspiration, intuition, realization, thought or whatever
you call it, are interesting aren't they? Suddenly, things come together, there's something new that wasn't a moment ago, new possibilities come into existence. It's like the world suddenly gets bigger and there's a release of energy, movement. Such newness, such space!

There ought to be an app for that :grin:

Hi Tom, thanks for this.

Do you suggest KeePassX (for Linux / Mac OS X) from for the kdb[x] database as your link goes to a Windows version?

I'm guessing that I need to install the [kdb[x] database] and MacPass is a GUI front end?

Sorry if I mixed up the links.

No, you only need an app, you don’t have to install any database. Personally I use MacPass (GitHub page), and on the iPhone currently MiniKeePass.

Alternatives for macOS are KeepassXC and KeePassX.

If you scroll down on this page, you find a more comprehensive list of “Contributed/Unofficial KeePass Ports” for all platforms.

kdbx (or the older version 1 kdb) is just the database format that is used by these apps. The format is platform independent. kdbx is also the filename extension for the database files.

Thanks Tom.

I see these can work. Nice alternative. I'd rather pay for the ease and finish of 1Password then roll my own. Good to know about to pass on if a client would rather save money and is willing to expend a little elbow grease.

Just a little update to my post above, for the folks that are interested in kdbx-based password managers:

The mentioned MiniKeePass seems to be no longer actively developed. (It still works with iOS 12.4 though.)

But some very nice alternatives for iOS have shown up:

  • Strongbox

    • Way better than MiniKeePass ever was (GUI, options, features)
    • Seems to be open sourced, but not free (but the database format (kdbx) is open source, so this is not a security issue)
    • Free version available, but the full version is moderatly expensive: €29 for a lifetime purchase, and some subscription options like for example €10/year
    • It can – optionally – edit the iCloud-served kdbx file in-place (which means live sync)
    • Can create Diceware passphrases, and you can select the dictionary out of an ample list of acknowledged Diceware dictionaries (including localized ones!)
  • KeePassium

    • Way better than MiniKeePass ever was (GUI, options, features)
    • Not open source and not free (but the database format (kdbx) is open source, so this is not a security issue)
    • Free version available, but no one-time purchase available. Only subscriptions like for example €12/year
    • It does edit – non-optionally – the iCloud-served kdbx file in-place (which means live sync)
  • Keepass Touch

    • Seems comparable to MiniKeePass, but I didn’t really test it, since in its current version it refuses to open database files from iCloud
    • Not open source and not free (but the database format (kdbx) is open source, so this is not a security issue)
    • Free version available, and the full version is not expensive: €1

Strongbox also has a Mac version at €16. The main advantage over the free and actively developed MacPass is the Diceware generator (like in the iOS app). As far as I can tell.

With the now working live sync of these new apps (Strongbox, KeePassium) and the more user-friendly GUIs, there isn’t really much reason left to rely on opaque formats like LastPass or 1Password.