[SOLVED] Need help with special use for "palette" (Porting Launcher mode from Karabiner)

My goal is porting launcher mode from Karabiner to Keyboard Maestro. How it work is with a special modifier key able to chain up to 2 characters after it. Say we name the special modifier key “super”

For example:
“super” + “n” = action one
"super" + “n” + “k” = action two
"super" + “n” + “n” = action three

How I am trying to porting it to Keyboard Maestro is with “Palette” but I am having trouble writing the “conduction” loop. How can I set say

When tap a hotkey to trigger palette for one action and tap say “P” for an action BUT if I tap another key within “150 ms” it will do action two.

“Hotkey trigger palette” then tap say “N” for one action if no key fallow in 150ms
and at the same time if I
"Hotkey trigger palette" then tap say “N” then “K” for another action

At the end of the day I use this method to convert all my hotkey to “Nature Language Hotkey” for example:

“Gaussian Blur” in Photoshop I just trigger with “Hotkey” + “G” + “B”
“Show Tree” I trigger with “Hotkey” + “S” + “T”

Don’t have to remember any hotkey anymore

Also possible to have “invisible” palette? haha :smile:
Thank you

For those who stumble on this thread I recommend that you check out the 5th and 6th reply which contain my unfinished blog post on “Nature Language Hotkey”. The origin story which will free you to remember any hotkey any more. :slight_smile:

In Keyboard Maestro, if:

"super" + "n" = action one

then action one will have happened before you press “k”. So then the best you can do is:

"super" + "n" + "k" = action one + action two

You could perhaps do something like this for action one:

  • Set variable “Do Action 1” to 1
  • Pause 0.2 seconds
  • If variable “Do Action 1” is 1 then
    • Do stuff

And Action 2 starts with:

  • Set variable “Do Action 1” to 0
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work beautifully thank you

Can you post your macro? I’m still not following your workflow. Just curious. Thanks.

Basically I use Hotkey to trigger “palette” to another “palette” to achieve the Launcher mode effect. With this method you create a master palette to host 1st character “a-z” then another palettes to host the 2nd characters. If you use all the alphabets, you will need 27 palettes (1 master + 26 for all the alphabets)

The example below shows when tap “F” key alone and “F” + “D”

This macro live inside “Launcher mode master palette” which house all the 1st tap characters

This macro live inside “Launcher mode F+” which house all the characters after 1st “F” tap

Here is the macro link
Download from Dropbox

You will need to create 2 palettes yourself, one “Launcher Mode” which trigger by the “Hotkey” and 2nd one name “Launcher Mode - F+”

I am not sure if KM export those details when I export the macro.

With this method you can actually keep nesting the logic and have more then 2 click after trigger instead the limitation of 2 characters from Karabiner. Personally I use 2 hotkeys to trigger this workflow. One for all system command and one for per-apps and find 2 characters is enough for the job. I rarely use my modifier keys, expect shift for capitalize characters.

As this moment I am still using Karabiner. This post is just to explore the option when the day I end up have to move away from it. My wish list for KM will be invisible palettes :slight_smile:


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Here is a snippet of real life usage: (This part of my unpublished blog post for Karabiner, replace "holding “AWESOME”," to "trigger palette" for KM)

For general task mode:

open Firefox holding “AWESOME”, tap “F”
open Terminal holding “AWESOME”, tap “T”
(no more endless cmd+tab to sea of opened apps)
open my Documents folder holding “AWESOME”, tap “D”
open Download Inbox holding “AWESOME”, tap “D”, tap “I”
Toggle Wifi holding “AWESOME”, tap “W”
Empty Trash holding “AWESOME”, tap “E”, tap “T”
Eject All “AWESOME”, tap “E”, tap “A”
Move window to Left half “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “L”
Move window to Right half “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “R”
or in (WASD as arrow)
Move window to left(a) half “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “A”
Move window to right(d) half “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “D”

For designer in Photoshop mode:

(next few example we group all related action to start with the same character, in this case “L” for all “Layers” events. It’s exercising “chunking”)
flatten layers -> Layers Flatten holding “AWESOME”, tap “L”, tap “F”
merge visible layers -> Layers Merge visible holding “AWESOME”, tap “L”, tap “M”
new Layer via copy(C) holding “AWESOME”, tap “L”, tap “C”
new Layer via cut(X) holding “AWESOME”, tap “L”, tap “X”

For working in text editor mode

I gonna use a popular text editor “Sublime Text” as an example here, I will barrow the idea from Vim which we talk to text editor to execute command. (Matter of fact the whole Nature Language Method was inspired by Vim. Talking to computer in plan English is much better than non sense modifier keys.

Cut Line holding “AWESOME”, tap “C”, tap “L”
Insert line After holding “AWESOME”, tap “I”, tap “A”
Insert line Before holding “AWESOME”, tap “I”, tap “B”
Move line/selection Up holding “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “U”
Move line/selection Down holding “AWESOME”, tap “M”, tap “D”
Duplicate Line(s) holding “AWESOME”, tap “D”, tap “L”
select current Word holding “AWESOME”, tap “W”
Quick-open files by name holding “AWESOME”, tap “Q”
Goto Symbol holding “AWESOME”, tap “G”, “S”
Goto Line in current file holding “AWESOME”, tap “G”, tap “L”

Command prompt holding “AWESOME”, tap “C”
Toggle Sidebar holding “AWESOME”, tap “T”, tap “S”

Find holding “AWESOME”, tap “F”
Find in Files holding “AWESOME”, tap “F”, tap “F”

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Here is the intro of the blog post which I never finish due to Karabiner no longer support in macOS Sierra. (The writing itself need heavily editing due to it’s my 1st draft and English is my second language, but you will get the sprite of the message.)

When working with computer the hotkey does help to get things done snappier and make us feel like a high level computer ninja. But my problem with traditional hot keys system are:

  1. They are hard to remember because modifier keys are not meaningful to us human.

  2. There are different sets of hotkeys for each app. Our mind is best for doing creative works not to wast on remembering awkward hotkeys.

  3. They are uncomfortable for to execute. It’s like playing twister with our fingers.

The goal of this post is to share a better way to manage the way we talk to computer. Let them speak our language, not the other way around to craft a better experience. And this is not just for the geeky coder/tinkler but for graphic designer even more. One of the worst hotkey design category is graphic design apps. (I am looking at you Photoshop, and MAYA 3D.) There are just too many functions and menu items in those apps which result those 3 modifier hotkey monsters to torture our head and fingers! Let me free you from it and make your fingers to dance on the keyboard. I assume most people who stumble on this page will be more coder alike. But I will be using a lot of graphic app reference in this post to keep the designer feel more like home, coder alike can imagine in your own scenario.

When we encounter hotkeys like “Cmd+Alt+Shift+E “ from the header image often we pause and have though like this “cmd+shift+ wait is it alt or ctrl here!? and why “E”, it doesn’t make any sense.” Then we have to use mouse to go to menu bar and dig thru nested trees to execute the commands, or use apps like “Cheatsheet”. They both disrupt the train of thought. Even worst we see keyboard cover hotkeys sticker like this. It’s just dame ugly. Some of the menu item you use a lot dons’t even have hotkeys like “Gaussian Blur” scenario.

Thankfully there is a better way to do so on Mac with the help of Karabiner - A powerful and staple keyboard customizer for OS X (It’s own tag line). It’s a amazing free open source project by Takayama Fumihiko. It can do so many interesting things that I wrote about it on my other blog post. This post is diving down on one creative use of its “launcher mod”. With nature language method you can reduce context switch and stay in the creative flow much easier.

I gonna start from a high level point of view show you what nature language method (NLM) looks like in action then dive in deeper to show how it’s done after. Think AWESOME key is a super charged modifier key for now.

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@dunkaroo wow! This is great stuff. I’ll have to message you after I process it all. Thanks for posting.

P.S.: your English is excellent.

Hello @peternlewis

I hope that you are fine around there! I wanted to ask if on the current version of KM there is a better way than this to create a shortcut like cmd + C + C like a two-step trigger.


Check out the excellent multipress macros from @noisneil