Second Keyboard for Triggering Macros?


I wonder if it is possible to use an extra keyboard only for triggering Keyboard Maestro macros.

Does it work?


You cannot really do this with Keyboard Maestro.

See the wiki article: Can I use a second keyboard solely to trigger macros?

Keyboard Maestro has two primary key triggers: hot keys and device keys.

Hot keys intercept and swallow the key press but cannot distinguish between the same key on different keyboards.

Device Keys can distinguish the key on different keyboards, but do not swallow the key so the key continues to perform its normal function.

So you could use all the function keys (with associated modifiers) on both Macs using a device key trigger. But you could not use, for example, the “a” key on a second keyboard without also typing an “a” (or swallowing both a’s if you used a hot key).

An alternative is to use a non-keyboard keyboard, something like an XK-24 or the like, that does not perform any normal function. You can use device key triggers with that kind of keyboard.

hey peter, thanks for taking the time.
i guess i could use my ipad instead of an xkeys controller, right?

You could use your iPad running Keyboard Maestro Control.

I’m not sure how else you would use your iPad as an external keyboard, but I doubt any other way would work with Keyboard Maestro’s triggers.


I am experimenting with this topic now.

Confirmed here.
I bought two, identical, wireless keyboards.
They both work, in the same way, at the same time.
That is useful for my purpose, but the Mac can't distinguish one from the other, so two keyboards appear as one.

That is what I am testing now.
First tests working smoothly.

Keyboard for typing and, along side, iPad for KM macros.
(Here, doing foreign language text expansions.)

Anyone else doing anything else along these lines, using KM Control?

For those curious about KM Control, here is comparison of KM on Mac and KM on iPad.

A set of macros on the Mac in KM Editor:


Same set in KM Control on iPad:


If you are willing to use a number pad, it can specifically be used for triggering macros.
I am doing it that way.

Number pad can be separate like this:

Or can be built into a full-size keyboard as shown in photo below.
Below is what I am using.

Typed string triggers approaches infinity: You'll never run out of options.

Available in WiFi, wired-USB, or, as both shown here, wireless-USB.

The unit I have toggles between track pad and number pad, but I find that awkward.
I want to quickly touch-and-go, without fussing over a toggle button.

What I'd prefer is a wireless keyboard with trackpad front and center like the PowerBook, plus real buttons in a number pad on the right side.
If you find anything like that, please let me know.


I use Lemur and it sends MIDI CC messages to KM. Works like a charm!

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Hi - i just ordered and received a "2nd keyboard" its a Koolertron sort of half keyboard. It is recognized as Thumb Keyboard. The Problem is: The modifiers are not recognized as modifiers but as individual keys.

Cheers Luigi

Hello, what if you have two identical xKeys? Keyboard Maestro seems to think they are the same. ControllerMate and other Windows Macrobuilders recognize the each xkeys as separate devices.

Better Touch Tool can distinguish between specific keyboards.

Actually, an iPad running Stream Deck software (which just came out in 2023) can enable up to 64 buttons, which can use KM's triggers, and 64 is almost as many buttons as a physical keyboard has.

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