PC Accessories

What Are Keyboard Macros?

Keyboard

All keyboards are not the same! While they all perform the same function of allowing users to type data into a computer, they come with different features. Some keyboards come with a numeric pad, while some don’t. Similarly, some keyboards come with macro keys while some don’t. But what are macro keys?  

Quick Answer

Keyboard macros are customizable keys on your keyboard programmed to perform various computational tasks. You can configure these keys to serve as a shortcut, launch an app, and so on. 

Macro keys are handy to programmers for gamers to repeat a particular pattern of keystrokes. When a macro key is used, it executes an action from beginning to end without human assistance.

Keep reading to learn more about keyboard macros. 

How To Configure Keyboard Macros

Configuring a macro key on your Windows is pretty straightforward. The easiest way to configure a macro key is to use the Command Prompt on your PC. But if you don’t want to use that, you can use several third-party apps, like Macro Scheduler and Macro Recorder. The steps below elaborate more on how to configure a macro key. 

Step #1: Connect the Keyboard to Your PC

Firstly, connect the keyboard to your PC. If the keyboard is wired, simply plug the USB cable into the port of your PC. But if the keyboard is wireless, you must turn on the Bluetooth on your PC and the keyboard. Navigate to your PC settings and search for it.

When you find the keyboard, tap on it to connect to it. Alternatively, if you have connected to the keyboard before, press Ctrl + K and select the keyboard from the list to connect it to Bluetooth. 

Step #2: Launch the Command Prompt 

With the keyboard successfully connected to your PC, you can proceed to launch the Command Prompt. To do this, click on the Start icon at the bottom left corner of your screen and type the word “Command Prompt”. Right-click the Command Prompt link from the search result and choose “Run as administrator”. You will get a prompt that says, “Do you want to allow this app to make changes on your PC?”. Click on “Yes”, and the Command Prompt window will launch. 

Step #3: Select an Action 

In the Command Prompt, type explorer shell:AppsFolder, and click Enter to run it. This command line will open a folder with all your applications and features on your windows. Find an action you’d like to assign the shortcut to from the application list and features that pop up on your PC. You can use the search bar at the top right corner of your screen to quickly find the action you are looking for.

Step #4: Create a Shortcut 

When you find an action you want to assign a macro key, click on it to create a shortcut. Because you are accessing it from Command Prompt, you may get an error message that says you cannot add a shortcut here. The prompt will ask if you want to add the shortcut to the desktop instead. You can ignore the error message and click on “Yes” to add it to the desktop screen of your PC. 

Step #5: Select the Properties of the Action

You can close the Command Prompt and go to your PC’s desktop screen. Find the action you just created as a shortcut on your desktop screen and right-click it. From the pop-up option in the right-click option and select “Properties”

Step #6: Select the Shortcut Window

In the “Properties” window, tap on the shortcut from the top menu. Under the shortcut options, find the option “Shortcut keys” and tap on it. Here you can input a combination of keys or a key like the macro keys. 

So, whenever you press the key combination or the macro key, it will launch the action automatically without pressing any other key. Click on “Apply”> “OK” to save the changes. 

Keep in Mind

You can also create a macro key for a mouse if the mouse features special keys. However, it is advisable not to save sensitive information or passwords in macros when customizing a macro key.

Conclusion 

Using macro keys is a helpful feature that saves time and helps you quickly repeat specific actions. Most keyboards that come with macro keys feature five or more keys. Hence, you can use a single macro key for a particular action or a combination of macro keys for a specific action. This way, you can get more out of the macro keys and enable several actions to run automatically. Remember, you can also use third-party apps, so feel free to use what works best for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is using macro keys in gaming cheating? 

Gamers who use macro keys generally get more advantages over other players in the game. This advantage makes people wonder if using macro keys is cheating. But using macro keys is not cheating because it is only helping players act as they usually would by pressing other keys, giving them time to focus on other things. 

Can I cheat with macro keys? 

Yes, it is possible to use macro keys to cheat, depending on what program or action you program it to perform. However, it might be detected if you program a macro key to perform a cheat code. For example, in games like Fortnite, developers have an anti-cheat tool that prevents users from using third-party software to enhance their gaming performance. 

What is the difference between hardware macro and software macro? 

A hardware macro is when the program file for a series of functions is stored on the onboard keyboard memory. At the same time, a software macro is when you use the program on your computer to save the macro file for use when needed. A hardware macro comes with more advantages than a software macro because the program files are stored on the keyboard, making them more reliable.  

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