To highlight selected text: would it be possible to use a modifier key instead of a keyboard shortcut?

In Bear notes (my question would apply to any editor or notes app or PDF reader with annotations), to highlight text, I have to select text on on the trackpad→ press the keyboard shortcut Shift-Cmd-M.

This slows down my workflow considerably to have to first select text→ press a keyboard shortcut when I have long technical notes to read / annotate.

I was wondering if there is a way to perhaps selecting text while pressing Ctrl-Option-Cmd, and the text would be highlighted when I release the modifier keys or even better to select text using the trackpad and highlight when my finger is off (no longer touching) the trackpad.

thanks in advance for your time and help

I don't fully understand what you're asking for: How would Ctrl-Option-Command select text? Do you still have a hand on the trackpad? If so, how is that better than selecting text with the trackpad in the first place? I admit, I'm confused: Are you trying to keep your hands off the trackpad? Or off the keyboard?


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I apologize for poorly formulating my question.

objective: to highlight or annotate text quickly.

current method: I have to select text with the trackpad → press Shift-Cmd-M to highlight → select next text → press Shift-Cmd-M to highlight. This method is very slow.

Looking for a faster method:
I would like to press a combination of modifier keys and highlight/annotate quickly.

With the modifier keys constantly pressed, text would be highlighted every time I select text, probably by triggering the keyboard shortcut when my finger is no longer in touch with the trackpad.

thank you for your reply

Thank you for clarifying; at first I was going to reply I don't see how you would do this, but then…

An animated GIF resides within

mousedown3 was done! That's Pages, as I don't have Bear, but as you can see, it does work. I was quite surprised :). Here's how it works:

A double-tap of the left Option key starts the macro. It then sits in a loop, watching for the Escape key, which is how it's canceled. The loop is waiting for either the Escape key, or the mouse button to go down. Once that happens ... well, nothing else actually happens except now it waits for the mouse button to be released, indicating you're done selecting text.

Once that loop exits, the macro applies the highlight shortcut (after making sure there's a selection).

Then it relaunches itself to repeat the cycle, ending only when you press Escape. It was actually a ridiculously simple macro, and I think I'll be able to use this in many other places.

Download Macro(s): Mouse monitoring.kmmacros (7.1 KB)

Macro screenshot

Macro notes
  • Macros are always disabled when imported into the Keyboard Maestro Editor.
    • The user must ensure the macro is enabled.
    • The user must also ensure the macro's parent macro-group is enabled.
System information
  • macOS 14.4.1
  • Keyboard Maestro v11.0.2

The first thing you'll have to change is the trigger, because such triggers are hardware-specific. Click in the trigger box, then press one of the modifier keys on your keyboard. You can use any of the modifier keys you like, and you can use the pop-up to switch between tapping two or three times, etc. Pick whatever works for you.

The other thing to change is to activate the disabled Bear shortcut, and remove/disable the Pages shortcut.

With those two changes, it should work. In your Bear document, double-tap Option (or whatever), start selecting text, and each time you release the mouse, it should highlight. When done, press Escape.

I'm very interested to hear if this works for you!


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I've got a nicely updated version of this that I'll post (probably on Monday) on its own thread. It works with Bear, iA Writer, and Pages, and includes a couple options for visual reminders that you're in highlighter mode while the macro is running.

The one above will work fine; the new one just has some additional features (and support for multiple apps). I'd love to post it this weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have time.


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looks fantastic. Exactly what I was looking for. PLEASE take your time. Next week or later is fine. Whatever suits your schedule. Thanks very much !

I have been working with it and it's absolutely fantastic. Useful for so many apps including annotating PDFs. thanks a million

Good news is I found a way to make it simpler; it no longer needs to re-run itself over and over. It's all in one loop now.


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I look forward to seeing it. Just an idea to perhaps help forum members recognize the uniqueness of your macro: "universal highlighter"