Suggestion: Increase the Drop Zone for Adding Actions at the End

Is it just me or are maybe some of the fine folks in this forum also slightly annoyed by the fact that we have to hit a very shallow area beneath the current last item when adding a new action to the end of a macro via drag & drop? I just want to throw it anywhere on the large white space.
@peternlewis Is there a reason this space is not usable as drop target?

so much space


I can't disagree with this. :+1:t3:

I don't disagree, but it's kind of a function of how the list works, it only takes up as much space as it needs and since you have to drag it in to the list, that only extends down a short distance after the last action.

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⌘-c and ⌘-v work to put an action into the editor. Perhaps write a macro that inserts the highlighted action into the editor.

I understand where you're coming from. My problem¹ is that the end of the list and the no-drop-zone are indistinguishable. I have to "search" for the small area and it is very small if I'm moving up from down below (because of overshooting). The pointer has to be maybe 5px from the bottom line of the last action.
very close

If the drop zone can't be extended, it might help to differentiate the no-drop-zone by graying it out. It's not really an improvement for the mouse movement needed, but it would clarify the situation visually and reduce the probability of the above mentioned overshooting.

¹ Well maybe not a real problem, more of a usability nuisance.

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Well … that would be a very typical solution; fixing an issue in KM with KM. :smile:
Copying and pasting works, but the action I want to paste after needs to have the focus. Any selection on the right side loses its focus state as soon as anything in the Action panel (or the panel itself) gets clicked on. So I would have to find the last/lowest action on the right side again and then paste. That seems too complicated [for me].

There's a Move to the bottom shortcut in the Editor.

You can do your hands a huge favor by not ever having to drag again—I can't remember the last time I dragged a new action in (versus dragging to reorder, which I do a lot). Just create this incredibly simple one-action macro, and put it in a group that's only active when KM is frontmost:

Edit: The idea for this macro isn't mine, I found it here on the forums, but I don't have any idea where :).

I have mine assigned to a double-tap of the left side Control key. When I double-tap, a one-line input box appears; start typing, and KM shows matches:

The more you type, the fewer matches result. Select the one you want and hit Enter, and it's added at the end (if there's no action selected in the macro, otherwise it goes after that action).

I actually use a two-action version of the above, where step number two is just this:

That's "fav" with a trailing space, which means that the box pre-populates with my marked Favorite actions, which are the ones I use the most. Here's a screenshot of the full macro:

The full macro

I've not attached it as you'd have to set the triggers yourself, as they're specific to your keyboard. (They are USB Device Key triggers, not Hot Key Triggers.)

I find a double-tap and a bit of typing so much easier than dragging—whether into the small target area at the bottom, or anywhere in the macro. I only drag if forced :).



Why write a macro when there are already keyboard shortcuts available?

Here’s the set of really useful shortcuts when editing macros in the KM editor:

A - insert an Action (in a macro)
T - insert a Token (in a field)
V - insert a Variable (in a field)
F - insert a Function (in a field)
W - insert an ICU Date (in a field)

Each of these brings up a spotlight-like dialog that helps you easily find and insert the corresponding item.


Because tapping Control twice is much easier than any real keyboard shortcut? :).

I actually don't find the variable insertion macro all that useful, as it remembers every variable I've ever used. I'd love it if there were a way to restrict it to only showing variables used in the current macro or sub macros.

So in my case, I just have vv type out %Variable%%, and position the cursor between the last two percentage marks.



Well, technically, yes, that's true. But it can also be in the bottom half of the last action (assuming you avoid drop targets in the action).

That's new to me, and interesting. Unfortunately, 99% of the time when I'm inserting a variable name into a field it's a Text field and I need the characters "%Variable%%" inserted with the variable name. And this shortcut seems to be missing that functionality. Ideally, the shortcut should recognize if the cursor is in a Variable field or a text field, and insert accordingly. This is the KM Editor, so it should be possible for the shortcut to recognize which type of field the text cursor is in.

Why do you have to position the cursor after inserting that text? Just add a left arrow key press after the text insertion. No "positioning" required.

It would be great if I could combine the above two functions into a single hotkey or typed string macro, but the "insert a variable" shortcut is builtin, it's not a macro. I don't see a way to combine both functions into a single macro.

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@griffman @tiffle I love KM, but I'm still an avid mouse user (designer). I like the concept of drag and drop and that it's available all over macOS. I also often don't know the name of the action I want to add. So I'm searching for actions with promising names in the actions palette.¹ But I see that the dialog to 'Insert Action->By Name …' has a preview. That's an advantage. So I might have to try the keyboard way for adding actions.

@peternlewis Yes, but often the last actions have drop zones, too. Every IF/THEN conditional adds two more inside the bottom of the action.

@Airy I agree, now that I learned about these shortcuts, I would think that the function should be context sensitive and add the %Variable%% part where needed.
That said, the shortcut ⌃⌘V for inserting a variable did not work in any case/field I tried. I probably have bound it to something else that does not work in this context, but I can't find it. :see_no_evil:

Is there an app like the old ShortcutDetective that shows, which app is first responder for a shortcut?

¹ The action for toggling a macro on/off was very hard to find; 'Set Macro or Group Enable' is an unintuitive name for me (German). Now I have a new favorite with a "better" name.

As long as using the mouse is acceptable, Actions can also be added to the end of a macro by double clicking on them.


@NaOH I could post many GIFs, but I will restrain myself to one.


Thank you all. I now have several new ways to add actions.
I love this forum as much as I love Keyboard Maestro.

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This brings up a couple of things.

  1. What is a mouse designer?
  2. What is it about the concept that you like?

For me, the mouse vs keyboard UI bridges the tactile/present/physical/concrete/external thinker at one end to the abstract/conceptual/internal thinker at the other.

I can tell you from personal experience (I'm an external thinker who seems to talk [and write] waaay too much “external thinking” for my internal thinking “quiet” wife :face_with_spiral_eyes:) that these two very distinct approaches can quickly form camps that can easily conflict.

Here (to me), it shows up as the keyboarders vs. the mouse/paletters, with keyboarding having a higher internal cognitive cost to use (memorizing key combos) with easier/cheaper implementation costs vs. the high upfront cognitive demand/costs of the graphic design required to develop on-screen UI graphical elements that then need a lower cognitive load to use as itʼs all right externally there.

Now from a lifetime of being an internal thinker, you would likely perceive that having everything “out there” to be awkward or at least inelegant and clearly not worth the cost of development. From my view, the current disparency reflects the current majorities’ preference for the lower development and cognitive cost of keyboarding development and reflects the preponderance of that thinking style out there. Sigh…

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Well, here's my action:

I don't know how to put a left arrow in there. I could add another action that adds a typed left arrow, but why bother when the Position Cursor (%I) token does exactly that?



That's a new one on me! :clap:t3::clap:t3:

Thank you. Althouhg this topic is now officiall "solved" your questions deserve an answer.

  1. :smile: I'm a graphic/UX/UI designer, only using a mouse
  2. On the one side I like that in macOS nearly everything is possible using just a mouse, because, I think, it's a less abstract concept, closer to "the real world" and therefore generally easier to understand for "normal people". And drag and drop takes this even further. (You want this file to be in this email? Just drag it over there, done.) Often people don't even expect it to be that simple.
    That said, I'm kind of between the two chairs. Just as probably everyone in this forum, I like to let the computer do as many of my repetitive Tasks as possible. Working with the left hand on the mouse and the right hand on the keyboard, many triggers use mouse buttons with modifier keys (for example ⌘ + Middle Mouse Button groups selected layers in Sketch). And using one of the many buttons of the Logitech G903 as an additional Hyperkey was one of the best things I ever did. So for me Keyboard Maestro is maybe even ¼ "Mouse Maestro".
    Well, I think I digressed quite a bit there. The gist: I like using the mouse conceptionally, but I also like to trigger automations (with it), for which I have to remember the shortcuts.

Does this work quickly now? I know that I tried to paste customer support snippets with KM some years ago (coming from TextExpander). Positioning the cursor close to the start of a longer snippet took quite some time and I could see the cursor move there.