Using and Comparing Automation Tools: Keyboard Maestro, Alfred, LaunchBar, etc

Thank you, this is exactly what I want.

If anyone curious what I want to try and do is have Alfred display macros currently scoped to an active application from the alfred prompt. This is doable by just calling macros with applescript url KM provides but I am thinking of a way to make transitioning these macros to alfred quicker.

If you are familiar with alfred, you can create actions there, so I assign a keyword and link it to a bash script action that calls the macro. I asked already if I can skip keywords to windows in Alfred but I believe it should be possible.

The reason why I want this, is that lately I have a few macro I've made that make my life easier in various apps, I want a quick way to find them. If done right and if I figure out a way to quickly transfer newly created macros to call from alfred triggers, it would be bliss. What do you think, would such a thing be possible to do?

I can already show and call all my macros with another workflow and it works great :

But it shows all the macros and I want to remove and filter the search depending on current active window.

Moderator's Note:  **Also See:**

* [Using and Comparing LaunchBar (LB) with Alfred and other Apps ](
* [What other software and tools work well with KM? ](

Have you tried using the KM Trigger Macro by Name?
Press the hotkey, and type in any text in the Macro Name:
It shows ONLY those macros that are currently activated for the frontmost app.

Works great!

Also, I have create a Palette Macro Group for each of my apps that have a lot of macros. All of them are activated by the same hotkey.
Some I leave the Palette up until I press the hotkey again.
Others, I show the Palette only for one use.

For example, Evernote:

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You can set the tooltip delay globally with…

defaults write -g NSInitialToolTipDelay -int 1000

1000 = 1000ms = 1s (which seems to be the default)

…or just for KM with…

defaults write com.stairways.keyboardmaestro.editor NSInitialToolTipDelay -int 1000

I am curious, where do you find out about all these ‘defaults’ commands. They seem pretty powerful but I always wondered how do people find out about them and all the parameters that you can pass to them?

A comfortable way is via LaunchBar:

Oh that is extremely useful indeed. I should try launchbar one day.

You can also type in the Terminal…

defaults read <CFBundleIdentifier>

However this (or via LB) won’t give you all settings. The ones that are at their default may be missing.

After KM, LaunchBar is the most powerful Mac tool I own/use.
I use it many, many times a day.


It just doesn’t have the rich workflow system that alfred has. :expressionless:

What if I run two launchers? Do you think it will be a big deal on cpu and the system?

@nikivi, since you use both alfred and KM, may I ask you this:
What do alfred workflows offer that KM does not?

Anyone else use both alfred and KM? Your thoughts?

A lot. I mean really a lot.

Here are just a few :

It seems to brake off after a while, but here is more :

They offer a great interface to see results from scripts and make actions on them. I use km for specific bindable actions that need no text output to work on. Alfred is fast and the power it has as a launcher is really incredible since so many workflows are free to use. Using KM and Alfred together though is amazing and that is what I want to do by making the km macros I have show on Alfred according to the active window.

When Alfred came out I used it a lot, but I always found its workflow system rather clumsy and unintuitive. For short bash or AppleScripts it’s maybe better than LB’s plugin architecture, but these things I can do quicker with KM or even Typinator.

That being said, I still haven’t looked closely at the new Alfred 3 version (even though I have that “Mega” license ;-)) Time to do it, someday…

Perhaps I am mistaken, but most of what you show in the animated GIF looks more like searching and launching stuff, which is what I use LaunchBar for.

KM is so powerful and flexible, I can’t image a workflow that you create in Alfred that could not also be created in KM, perhaps simpler and better.

For example, I have a multipurpose Google Search that does all this from one hotkey:

  • IF some text is selected, use it
  • IF not, select text from current text cursor to end of line
  • IF text is web URL, open it
  • IF text is Non-Web URL, open it in default provider
  • Otherwise, do a standard google search on the text

Some other very complex KM macros:

  • Apply standard styles to Evernote text
  • Insert AppleScript commands that have lots of options
  • Create rich text and plain text hyperlinks from:
    (I use this many times a day.)
    • web page
    • selected text on web page
    • link on web page
  • Auto-select all of the text in a forum post, or code block, and get the post data (author, URL, post date, etc), and then use it to create a note or document in many other apps (like Evernote & Quiver).

@DanThomas has built and published some truly incredible macros/workflows that are complete systems.

LaunchBar not only opens apps, it opens many other things, including specific URLs in a specific browser. For example I have these LB shortcuts:

  • KM – opens Keyboard Maestro app
  • KMF – opens KM forum in Chrome
  • KMW – opens KM wiki in chrome
  • SP – opens Mac System Prefs

I have LB shortcuts that are 2 or 3 char, which are very intuitive to me (like the above “KM” shortcuts), to open apps I use commonly.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not knocking Alfred. I’m sure it’s a great tool. I just happen to think KM is better. :wink:

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That’s true, it seems the Alfred community is producing way more workflows than LB’s. On the other hand, LB has so many stuff out of the box…

Btw, just tried out LB. How do I open and quit the LB dialog box on same hotkey? Right now I need to press esc to quit it.

I also use the Escape key. It’s fine for me, I mean, that key is dedicated to dismiss stuff :wink:

Using the same key combo to dismiss the LB window would be conflicting:

Many people are using ⌘Space as the LB hotkey. And, once the LB window is on the screen, Space as well as ⌘Space gain a different, special meaning:

Space: Depends on the item in focus, for example…

  • Internet search query, iTunes, App Store: Opens a text field, where you can type in the search string
  • Mail, Twitter: lets you type in the message text for a new mail/tweet
  • Safari: shows you the bookmarks
  • Keyboard Maestro: lists all KM macros
  • Terminal: lets you type in a command
  • Most other apps: lists recent documents

⌘Space: Shows you a list with the recent apps launched via LB


Hey Michael,

Can you share please this google search macro. It seems really powerful and useful.

Thank you.

Sure. It may take me a day or so to get it cleaned up as I'm in the middle of writing another complicated macro.

Tom are you actually typing a left bracket and option 8 to get that shortcut? I use launchbar too so i am always curious how others are using it.