Using Custom Icons and the Icon Chooser

Whilst suggesting improvements to the Scrivener interface to the Scrivener developers, I did some research on emojis.

So applying that knowledge to Keyboard Maestro.....

You can include a standard emoji in the macro group name or macro name.
It is not the first character as that mucks up the sort sequence,
but it sure helps finding the macros you are working on or use a lot.

(CTL+CMD+Space > Emoji/Character viewer)


and here are some "biggish" emojis you can use that are included as standard.


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My preferred solution to this is to use custom icons:

They show up in the palette and make finding macros easy.

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That is even bettter, how did you do the custom icons? and get them to display like that?

Any PNG file with transparency can be pasted into the icon field In a Keyboard Maestro macro.
Exactly the same as pasting an icon into a standard Mac Get Info window.


You can also copy and paste from one Keyboard Maestro icon field to another. So, once you've added one custom icon you can copy it from one macro to as many as you want.

There are plenty of free icons on the web and you can make your own in a graphics app like Photoshop. Just keep them small and square.

Open the PNG in Preview App and press Command+A to select all and then Command+C to copy. With that in the Clipboard go to your Keyboard Maestro macro, click the icon field and press Command+V to paste.

To make a blank icon (to remove the default Keyboard Maestro icon and leave an empty space on the left) paste in a PNG which is just transparent with no pixels. That will leave the icon area in the Palette blank making it easier to spot the icons you have given to your macros.

To have them display in the palette, you click on "Palette Style" in the Group and check "icon"


While this will work, it will result in a large increase in the size of the master macro file that KM maintains.
@peternlewis has stated that use of any images other than those in the KM Icon Window will require a large amount of storage. The problem occurs even if you paste one icon from the Icon Window, and then copy that from the Macro and paste into other Macros.

Things could have changes. Hopefully @peternlewis will jump in and clarify.

Yes, I had seen that mentioned on this forum before.

In my case I haven't had any performance issues with Keyboard Maestro using icons in this way and it vastly improves ease of use.

I suppose it all depends on what is considered a large file size. My total Keyboard Maestro Macros.kmsync file is 6.5MB which seems tiny to me.

By comparison one single Photo in my Mac Photos Library is 3.8MB and I have thousands of Photos in the Photos Library - and even that works fine across my Macs.

I have been using small PNG files for my icons - 75x75 pixels square. Almost non-existent in today's computer space :slight_smile:

That's correct - the best thing is to use the Icon Chooser in most cases. A few images wont be an issue - lots of images will bloat your macro file which can result in degraded performance. Resolving this is problematic for a number of reasons - it might improve at some point, but there are a lot of consequences to such a change.

The Icon Chooser doesn't have an endless range, but with the use of all the various unicode symbols, it has a pretty wide range:


Thank you Peter for the clarification.

What would you consider a reasonable size for the Keyboard Maestro Macros.kmsync file? Is 6.5MB okay? Like I said, I haven't seen any performance or sync issues. Dropbox updates my Kmsync file in a couple of seconds.

And the "blank" icon is very useful to separate out even the standard icons on palettes. In fact I think that "blank" icon is the custom icon I use the most.

As always - thank you for making such an amazing app which I keep finding more uses for.


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It depends on too many factors to really say. On an SSD its not as much of an issue, but I wouldn't want it getting a lot bigger than that. It only really affects the editor, the engine doesn't care.


Ahhh.... so, that is actually a brilliant way for jonathonl to get the emoji symbols into the names and keep the symbols at the front without messing up the list order in the palettes...

I am going to give this a try. As you say, with all those unicode symbols and emojis must be able to cover anything I want to give an icon to. And much quicker than making my own icons.

(And to access the icon chooser you just double-click in the icon field of the Keyboard Maestro macro or group.)


I wonder if this discussion of emoji and icons should be put in a new category/thread as it has gone away from the original thread discussion - but I don't know how to do that. Can one of the more expert forum members do that?

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I'm jumping in on this late, but I found that creating a trivial "hello, world" app in Xcode and setting the app's icon in Finder Get Info (not even including the icons in the asset catalog) seems to make that icon available in the Icon Chooser. Maybe I'll go with that approach myself, maybe not!