Are Macro Keys Useful For You?

If you are into a lot of productivity or were just checking out a new mechanical keyboard on the market, you might have come across the term ‘macro keys’. But what is so special about macro keys that make them an indispensible tool for many? Read on to find out:

The Basics

In a nutshell, a macro key is a key that, when pressed, carries out a series of pre-programmed functions that would otherwise be time-consuming to do such as launching an application, typing out a particular text, doing a series of keystrokes together and many more.

For instance: If I frequently type a specified sentence and send it to some people then constantly typing it or even copy-pasting it can consume some time. Alternatively, I can just press a macro key on my keyboard that has been programmed by me to immediately to write the text and even send it through ctrl+enter programmed after the text (on areas that support it). I typically save a few seconds or even less but this can add up to a good 10 to 20 minutes saved for video editors or people who do this kind of stuff all day.

You’ll commonly see macro keys labelled as a completely different set of buttons than you typically find on a keyboard such as G1 to G10 and they mostly reside in the left area of the keyboard. In fact, macro keys aren’t confined to keyboards as you can find many mouses featuring buttons that support macro functionality.

So Macros are Good, Right?

Well, depending on your use case, having macros can be both good and bad. If you are a person who rarely uses their keyboard for anything other than gaming and web browsing, then specifically getting a keyboard with macros is not recommended as it increases the overall size of the keyboard and you are left with a set of keys that don’t even use, not to mention the additional cost of keyboards that feature macro keys.

But that isn’t to say that macros aren’t useful for gaming. If you are into some RTS games or games where you need to do some boring monotonous functions, then macros can make them easier for you. Do keep in mind that some online games do not allow the use of macros and consider it as cheating, so check the rules about the game you’re playing before you try anything out.

I don’t have a keyboard with macro keys

Fortunately, software solves a lot of problems, so you don’t necessarily need to have a keyboard with macro keys to enjoy their functionality. A lot of softwares, with AutoHotkey being the most popular of them, allow you to set the already existing keys on your keyboard as macro keys. So if you mostly use the number pad on top of the qwerty layout, then the numpad on the right of your keyboard can be assigned for macro functionality as well, making your life a little bit easier.

Having An Entire Second Macro Keyboard

There are some people who really need a LOT of macro keys on their keyboard, and hence, it’s advisable for them to have a second keyboard that’s completely reserved for macro functionality. It isn’t easy especially for people who’ve never tried macros before, but spending some time on it can easily get you the hang of it and help you get to a second keyboard. Taran from LinusTechTips (who was also the inspiration for me to write this post) has made an easy guide for this which you can find in the video above.

So, the next time you’re on the move to get yourself a sweet gaming keyboard, ask yourself if you can take advantage of macro keys before rushing to Amazon and clicking on ‘checkout’.