Show "invisible" text characters in KM Action text fields

Is there any way to show characters that are normally invisible (space, tab, return, etc.) in the KM Action text fields? I have the habit of tabbing out of all fields in all programs in order to have the data and/or changes “take”, and so I regularly end up with unwanted (and invisible) {tab} characters at the end of fields such as the “To” field in the Action “Set Variable to Text”. Making these visible would allow me to find them instantly, and might keep me from entering them in the first place. Afaik, the standard method of making them visible is to render their symbols in light-blue text.

If this is not possible, please consider it a Feature Request. Imho, making these characters always visible in text fields matches KM’s ethos.


Hey Kirby,

No. I have occasionally wished for that feature myself though.

I usually use Escape or Cmd-. to make changes take.


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First, you do not need to leave a field in Keyboard Maestro, the macros are saved automatically continuously. You can actually see this visually with the subtle “dirty” indicator in the bottom right corner of the window. Changes are saved pretty much immediately (their is a slight delay to allow sequences of typing to be a single save rather than one save per character which would be excessive).

There is no way to have invisible characters shown in the fields. I’ll note it down, but unless there is some inbuilt support for it I’m not sure it will ever happen.

You could, of course, make a macro that did something like:

  • Command-A
  • Command-C
  • sequence of Search and Replace Clipboard (eg \t for \t or %%Tab%%)
  • Display Clipboard in window.
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Smack my gob. I had no idea this wasn’t widely available in OS X. Imho, it should be. Pages used to allow the user to show spaces, tabs, and paragraph-ends — at least until the latest dumbing-down (afaik — I use it rarely).

Thanks for the response and the suggestion.

KM, of course, saves additions and edits correctly and well. My habits were developed working with less well-implemented programs — after losing minutes and hours of time. I will train myself to behave differently with KM.

Hey Kirby,

It still does in Pages v5.5.3.

Most every word processor does.

Most well thought out text editors do.

But as far as I know the feature isn’t built-into the low-level text API of OSX.


Oh, yeah. I run BBEdit 24/7, so I usually switch over to it, paste, turn on invisibles and examine when necessary.

TextWrangler (BBEdit’s freeware version) can also do this.


Chris — I was wrong — thank you for correcting my mistake. (The command was moved off the “View” Toolbar icon, I didn’t press further to find it.) Good to know, when I need it …

… but it looks like I should purchase a TextEdit upgrade capable of showing invisible characters. Thanks for the suggestions in another of your messages in this thread — I’ll have a look at BBEdit and TextWrangler.

Path Finder, which I use in place of Finder, has it’s own in-built text editor, but (once again, afaik) it does not show invisible characters.

Hey Kirby,

It’s always a good idea to use the search field in the Help menu. It will find menu items.

To check I just fired up pages, typed Cmd-Shift-?, and then typed ‘invis’.

I don’t use Pages often either.   :smile:

The best thing I know of is a bit pricey – Jedit X. I bought a copy years ago when it looked like Tex-Edit Plus would never be updated for OSX.

Tex-Edit Plus (now available for OSX) is very good, but it’s still depends a lot on carbon APIs and therefore has a few glitches here and there. It is shareware but has an unlimited demo period.

I surmise this is because it uses the System Text API in its viewer.


Thanks for the Jedit X rec and link — I’ve been through only the menus and dialogs, and it looks great.