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Here are our advanced tips on using Palettes in Keyboard Maestro

Get easy access to all your custom-built macros from Keyboard Maestro using Palettes.

This will be the final waypoint in our Keyboard Maestro journey, Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride…

As you know, we’ve been able to initiate Keyboard Maestro macros by creating and using keyboard shortcuts, but you may have noticed that this was kind of a hassle when we attempted to fire up our email macro in the last segment. You might recall that I had you open a text editor and type the shortcut to run your macro. Not exactly an easy or elegant option. Fortunately, Keyboard Maestro offers a solution: Palettes.

What Are Palettes

Palettes are a simple way of turning all your macros into buttons. So all you need to do to fire off a macro is open the palette and click the button for the macro you need.

You may recall that in one of our first segments we disabled the Applications Palette. Let’s re-enable that so you can see how a palette works.

  1. Open Keyboard Maestro’s Preferences by typing command-comma
  2. Select the General Tab
  3. Put a check in the box that says Show Applications Palette

When you do this you should see Keyboard Maestro’s built-in application switcher/launcher. Go ahead… click some of the icons and see what it does.


Well, this is exactly how your Keyboard Maestro palette will work with the macros you create.

Creating a Macro Palette

Creating a macro palette is super simple, although the documentation for how to do it is a little opaque:

  1. Open the Keyboard Maestro Editor
  2. Select your iMore Macro Group
  3. Note that there are three menu items underneath the text field where you named your macro group

The first menu, which should say Available in all applications lets you select which applications you want your macro palette to be available in.

The second menu, which should say Available in all windows lets you define when a palette will be available based upon which windows are open on your computer. (Try these! They’re amazing!)

The third menu, which should say Always Activated is our magical palette tool.

  1. Click the Always Activated menu
  2. Select Shows/hides a palette when:

You should now see something that looks like this:

  1. Put a check in the box that says The hotkey is pressed.
  2. Type “Control-`” which is is the accent key that should be above your Tab key (You can also choose an entirely different hotkey.
  3. Type your hotkey.

Your palette should now appear.

Type your hotkey again to make the palette disappear.

Customizing Your Palette

You may have noticed that a small picture of a palette appeared when you clicked the Shows/hides a palette menu. While it’s not obvious from looking at it, clicking that palette opens Keyboard Maestro’s palette customization tool.

Click the palette and the Theme Editor opens.

Keyboard Maestro’s Theme Editor is a simple customization tool that allows you to tweak the way a specific palette looks. (You can change the default palette look in Keyboard Maestro’s Preferences as well as several other default palette types.)

There are limitations to how you can customize your palette but it’s versatile enough for anything you’ll need to do.

  • The menu that says Evening in my screenshot lets you quickly switch between color themes
  • The slider changes opacity
  • Size changes font sizes
  • Columns… well, that’s obvious
  • Icon shows/hides a macro’s icon
  • Text shows/hides
  • Trigger displays the keyboard shortcut for a specific macro
  • Title shows/hides the macro group name
  • Shrink minimizes the palette to a floating icon until you hang your mouse over it

Spend a few minutes playing with the Theme Editor and customizing your palette.

Organizing Your Palette

By default, Keyboard Maestro organizes your macros in numerical and alphabetical order. Knowing this, and another trick, we can organize our palette so that it looks nice and makes logical sense too.

We have six macros to organize some of which really don’t need to be on our palette, because, using the Counter macro as an example, that’s not something we’d really use for anything other than inside another macro. Normally, I’d put macros like that in another folder, but… to have more items to put on our palette, I’m keeping all of the macros we created in this group.

To organize our palette we’re going to use another macro designed to re-order and organize all the macros in a group.

First, download Dan Thomas’ very cool and very sophisticated Palette Organizer (direct download link)

Once it downloads, double click it to add it to your Keyboard Maestro macro library.

The macro will be disabled by default. Enable it.


  1. Select your iMore Macros group.
  2. Click the first macro in the group, which should be Counter.
  3. Shift-click the last macro, which should be Read and Paste Crew.
  4. Click the Keyboard Maestro Menu Extra.
  5. Select Trigger Macro By Name.
  6. Type Palette and select Palette Organizer list.

You should see the Palette Organizer window appear.

The Palette Organizer window will display a list of your selected macros and a set of tools on the left-hand side to organize those macros.

  1. Select the Email Cast & Crew macro and use the up arrow to move it to the top of the list.
  2. Select your Email Signature macro and do the same.
  3. The button that looks like a small bar with an arrow point down creates a divider, click it once to add a divider to your list.
  4. Select the divider and use the arrows to place the divider just below your signature macro.
  5. Select the Empty Trash macro and move it below the divider.
  6. Add another divider.
  7. Move it below the Empty Trash macro and above the other three macros.
  8. Order the last three macros in a way that makes sense to you.

You should now see something like this:

  1. Click the Renumber button.
  2. Click the OK button.

The Palette Organizer will rename all your macros and add dividers and, when you use your hot key to open the palette, you should see something like this:


Thanks for taking this little Keyboard Maestro trip with me. Let me know if there are other How To’s you’d be interested in seeing!

Source of the article – iMore