Wish list: add Fn (Globe 🌐) as a modifier to use as hotkey or USB Key trigger. Is there a workaround in the meantime?

I would like to use the Fn key the same way one can use other modifiers, for example just like ⌃A, I could type :globe_with_meridians:A, etc

It must be possible because within the Mac OS (in settings → Keyboard Shortcuts → Mission Control of Ventura 13.6.7) there is a Mac OS native Keyboard Shortcut :globe_with_meridians:Q which allows me to open a quick note in apple notes.

Is there a workaround I could use in the meantime ?

If I type :globe_with_meridians:A in the hotkey trigger field, the :globe_with_meridians: is not registered.

It would also be nice if KM distinguished the modifiers on the left and right side of the keyboard.

thanks in advance for your time and help

Screenshot (click to expand/collapse)

KM can do that. I think with the USB device triggers. There are example macros in this forum. But don't ask me where :rofl:

Fn as modifier works with BTT. A workaround with KM would be to swap fn with right control in macos.

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See "Can I use the Fn key as a modifier?" in the FAQ.

More information can be found in this discussion on GitHub. Some of the replies towards the end of the thread are perhaps the clearest about the issues.

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I note with interest that Keyboard Cowboy, which was mentioned today in the forum, places great emphasis on using the fn key for shortcuts. Anyone who uses an Apple keyboard (internal or external), or a limited number of other brands of external keyboards (some faking the vendor ID to make things work) will be ready to go. For every one else, some hacking is required.

I find the permutations of shift, control, option and command modifiers to be ample (although, for convenience, I do use key-activated "layers" in the configuration for my QMK-programmable keyboard, and those keys could be regarded as extra modifiers!).

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thank you very much @kevinb and @Frankb !


how would I do that ? thank you

I don't know if that will help you. It only makes sense if your keyboard does not have a control key on the right-hand side. Below is an explanation for Caps Lock but with fn it works the same. So you have left/right control side by side and you can use both modifiers for separate shortcuts. As far as I know, the modifiers can even be combined, i.e. left + right control + letter. I hope I'm not talking nonsense :innocent:

Generally speaking, KM lets you do whatever macOS public API's allow it to do. If KM doesn't distinguish between left and right modifiers, that's probably because the API doesn't allow KM to do it, not because the Architect of KM is denying you some functionality. There are many other utilities that use undocumented APIs to solve difficult problems. These products often break as the undocumented APIs change. As a result of this philosophy, I think KM macros that are 15 or more years old will still run today. Sometimes I feel like you, that I'd like to see more power, but I generally just accept that KM gives you all the power that macOS officially and publicly provides.

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To clarify, neither the Globe nor the Fn key are real modifiers, not in the sense that Control, Command, Shift and Option are (and to a degree, Caps Lock).

The system Hot Key API does not use any modifiers except the 4 standard ones, and does not distinguish between the left and the right modifiers. So that is what Keyboard Maestro uses for Hot Keys.

Traditionally, the Fn key acted more like a hardware toggle - the physical key on the keyboard was like two different keys, a hardware key (eg Volume Up) and a function key (eg F3), and then Fn key toggled between them.

These days Apple is doing weird things with the Fn key, including using them in menus. But as far as I am aware, that is an Apple-only thing, and not something that has changed any part of the hot key API.

Keyboard Maestro can detect most of these keys, including left and right modifiers, using the USB Device Key trigger. This is an entirely different process that looks at (but does not affect) low level USB events for button presses (technically, for value changes that turn on a single bit and then turn it off).

So yeah, I wish the Fn/Globe key could be used as a hot key modifier, and that hot keys could optionally distinguish left and right modifiers, but as far as I am aware, that is not possible with the system API. Maybe it will be one day, but Apple unfortunately does not seem to have a mindset of "We are going to add feature X, lets start with a public API, and then build out feature on that".