Is keyboard maestro relevant if I have bettertouchtool and Alfred pro?

i hear about KM a lot and how awesome it is for automation etc. But i already have alfred and keyboard maestro and wonder if I really need KM?

what does keyboard maestro offer which alfred and bettertouchtool don’t?

thanks guys

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First look at it this way: what are you missing from your setup?

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Just because you have a screwdriver doesn’t mean you don’t need a ratchet set.

Keyboard Maestro can automate menus, buttons, browsers, windows, keyboard shortcuts, time based, repeating, work with Stream Deck, etc.

I use Alfred and Keyboard Maestro and Hazel and launchd and find them all useful in different ways.

But if I had to use just one, it would be Keyboard Maestro


actually, i dont know what i am missing. But i also did not know what i was missing when i did not have bettertouchtool and alfred. Now, they save me so much time and energy. Once you have certain features available…I can see where I can fit them in my setup

I’ve mostly stopped using BTT now, and I use surface-level Alfred features for launching apps, finding files plus conversions and translation.

I use KM extensively now.
My favourites are the text tools I have set up so pressing the hyper key and k let’s me tap g (greek) then p to get pi symbol. I have these set up for all the special characters I use.
I have aShortcut on my phone to save songs I like to a reminder. On my Mac, I copy this list to aKM macro and it goes through adding them to my library and liking them (KM because it can do this automation by going through the menus).
To check my apps online, a KM macro takes me to the site, waits for me to log in, then navigate to the page I want by waiting for each page to load and automatically clicking on the right button.
I even moved my window management from BTT to KM.

In summary, I find KM can do more.


I also have all three, but generally prefer to use KM for most macro making because I find it easier to make, test, and manage a library of macros in KM than in BTT or Alfred. As a result, I no doubt might be underusing Alfred and BTT but, as @bowline prompted, I’m not missing anything by doing that.

BTT is used mainly for managing the Touch Bar and adding macros that work with contextual menu items. I find BTT’s interface confusing and frustrating sometimes – maybe if I used it more that would not be the case.

Alfred is used for launching and drilling down into contact cards and file hierarchies. I could live without Alfred, for the cases that I use it, and do most of what I do with Alfred with Spotlight instead. That’s not prescriptive for anyone else, just my own case.

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I use all three. There is some overlap, and I sometimes use the apps together (Alfred or BTT launching a KM Macro, for example), but for me there clear differentiators between the apps well. In general

  • Alfred: Replaces and enhances Spotlight
  • BTT: Enhances Touch Bar and Gestures
  • Keyboard Maestro: Introduces Automation/Macros

Those are the general buckets I would put them in, but it’s really selling each of them short on how powerful they can be. A few KM examples:

  • Conflict Palettes - I have a single command that launches a different custom menu depending on what app I am using. Each palette has list of macros that fires with a single key, ranging from simple actions from the apps built-in menu, to more complicated macros that would otherwise take multiple steps to do manually.

  • Project Automation/Filing - I have a recurring project that includes a lot of reports that have to be organized and distributed. When I finish, I type a single command and KM creates, copies, and renames a series folders; and it moves, copies, and renames files based on tags and file names. This takes me a few minutes to do manually, but it’s done often enough to make it tedious. Although Hazel is usually the tool for auto-filing, KM’s tokens and variables make it 100% automated with a single command. This is the sort of work I really like to delegate to KM.

  • KM can also run macros based on time of day, network connection, what devices are connected, and a bunch of other triggers.

Like I said, I use all three apps mentioned, but the power and potential of Keyboard Maestro whether you “need” it or not is just bonkers.


I agree with you on the BTT UI. I found the redesign to make it even worse. The developer unlocks the Touch Bar in ways I would never have imagined, but user interface just isn’t his jam.

As others have said, these apps don’t really compete with each other. But I’ve been heading toward a “simpler is smarter” outlook in that you have to question if an app will actually save you more time than you put into it. Now I’ve got all three of these, and lets throw in TextExpander as well since that competes with KM and Alfred for some functions. I’m also primarily using an iMac with a simple Logitech wired mouse and a 31 year old keyboard. I’ve also got a Magic Trackpad, but rarely use it. Secondary system is an MacBookPro, but I really like to work from a desk.

Now, in order of acquisition:

  • BetterTouchTool I found great when I got it, which I used with a MacBookPro and a Magic Mouse on my iMac. But with limited used of touch pads, I don’t use it anymore. I do use the subset app BetterSnapTool to set window snap regions. So I’d keep it around. I’d also buy BetterSnapTool now if I didn’t have it.

  • Alfred Pro I use all the time but probably 10% of it’s features, so I forget most of its commands. I moved to this from QuickSilver which wasn’t reliable. I’m a major keyboard user so anything I can work from the keyboard I like. I’d buy again even though I could do most things with Spotlight. There are several macros I use to set up for different projects. This could be done with KM.

Last two I bought from recommendations on MPU. But they may just be too late in the game.

  • TextExpander. I was using the built in text substitution. My needs are simple substitutions. No templating. I could use Alfred or KM as well instead of this. If I were on the subscription I’d drop it. As it is I’ll drop it when it stops working. There is no need to waste time switching off of something that is working.

  • Keyboard Maestro seems to be a jack of all trades, but frankly, even though I bought it and the Field Guide I just don’t see how it is worth the effort for what would be a minor improvement over what I already have. If I started with this, I might have skipped the others. But I didn’t.

So there you go. Tread carefully. Will you save the hours of investment in any of these to learn and commit to muscle memory? Certainly an individual answer depending on what your workflow is.

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I’d add one experience – be careful about macros you find on a forum somewhere. It’s easy in KM to download, test, then turn off or delete a macro that someone recommended.

In BTT, not so much. I installed a complex set of Touch Bar remappings that were highly recommended (should have been a red flag for me) and it ended up proving difficult to turn off and get rid of.

Just saying.

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Take a look at this recent thread for more ideas

That’s the question you should be asking yourself indeed.
Before you go too far down the rabbit hole having a good view of your requirements is essential.

And of course “I want to tinker with KM” is a valid requirement :wink:
But it might lead to some unproductive attempts to become productive.


Aside from the features it offers, KM is so much more user-friendly both to configure a Macro and also later to remember what macros you have set up and edit them when needed.

I use all 3 (Alfred, BTT, KM) but hands down KM would be the one I would keep to replace all 3 if I could only pick one.

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Just note that you do not need to create muscle memory with KM as I heavily use palettes and don’t use key combos.

Combined with BTT and just two gestures, one to call up a master palette and one to hide the current app I’ve all my needs covered.


How can this be accomplished?

It was based on the KM Find Image on Screen action, which is amazing, but also not great as it is a bit hit-and-miss, especially with translucency causing matching challenges.

Here’s the wiki support page.

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So I’ve honestly never found much use for any of these applications. I understand what they do - but I’ve never found a compelling use case that didn’t also feel (subjectively) like the automation of busywork. I read a lot of folk’s pretty neat automations but generally conclude that I don’t want to do whatever thing they’re doing because it doesn’t serve a compelling purpose.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out and I’m definitely not losing any usable time.

Relevance is really subjective.

I think you should always search for a solution to a problem you have - not fall in love with a solution and go in search of problems to suit it.

Like @MacBookHipster, I actually don’t use any of these apps anymore. I think I might have KM still installed, but it’s not set to launch, and since turning it off I haven’t missed it. Likewise I stopped using Alfred years ago, and haven’t missed it at all. I’ve had some very complex workflows, but in the end they were too fragile and took too much time to maintain. Also, I’d forget what my keyboard shortcuts were.

The only “automation” app I still have is Hazel, because nothing does what it does, and it honestly makes things easier for me. Well, that and Pastebot.

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When I’m away from my Mac, using my phone, I miss Alfred and Keyboard Maestro terribly.


Like ibuys, I stopped using most of these apps. However, since I unsubscribed from TextExpander, I’ve been looking for a lightweight snippet expander, nothing too fancy. I just noticed that Alfred has one, so that could be useful.

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