Startly Technologies’ QuicKeys 3.1 further solidifies the macro-and-shortcut utility’s position as the leading‘—and most comprehensive’—Mac automation software. Although it’s not a major upgrade, this version sports a few more features than the previous release ( May 2005 ), including support for Tiger’s Automator utility.
You can use the new Workflow shortcut to run Automator workflows using any QuicKeys trigger (for example, a keyboard shortcut or a specific time of day). You can also incorporate workflows into multistep macros, effectively expanding QuicKeys’—and Automator’s—repertoire. If you already have an Automator workflow that does something you need—resizing photos in Preview, say—you don’t have to duplicate the steps in QuicKeys.
Another clever feature called SoftKeys makes it easier to arrange and trigger your favorite shortcuts. When you invoke a SoftKeys shortcut, QuicKeys displays a translucent palette that shows up to ten assigned shortcuts in numbered slots (see screenshot).
| You can activate any macro in a SoftKeys palette with the keyboard or mouse.
QuicKeys’ new Drive trigger invokes a shortcut whenever a specified local or networked drive is mounted or unmounted. So, for example, you can configure QuicKeys to back up your internal hard drive every time you mount an external FireWire drive or to open a certain document whenever you insert a particular CD. A handy improvement to the Open Items shortcut lets you program QuicKeys to open an item using a specified program, not just the default application.
Macworld’s buying advice
At $100, QuicKeys 3.1 is quite expensive for a utility, and creating complex shortcuts still takes diligence that may also require a trial-and-error approach. But, even if you use AppleScript and Automator—and especially if you don’t—you’ll save time and sweat by using QuicKeys to automate repetitive tasks.
[ Franklin N. Tessler is a contributing editor for Macworld.]