Replacement Suggestions for Apptivate

Some time ago I stumbled upon an macOS app named Apptivate.

It’s been around awhile. Some chap whose name rhymes with “diploma” (@tjluoma ) wrote
about it over ten years ago here.

Recently I’ve encountered a bug in the app; not fatal just an annoyance. The app still works.
I sent a bug report to the support email address noted in the FAQ on the site, but it’s been some
weeks with no reply. And the last tweet from the Apptivate Twitter account is from May 2021. Thus
I fear this is abandonware.

Thus I am wondering if anyone can suggest a possible replacement.

I am a fan of apps that do one thing and that do it simply. As such Apptivate checks all
the boxes for me.

What it does is set a system wide key sequence to open things. How I use it is by setting
an activation sequence and then a launch key. For example, one of my hobbies is photography,
so I have “^P” as the activation key combo, and the “P” to launch Photoshop.

Expanding upon that, here are some of the key sequences I use to open applications and folders:

^P P → Photoshop
^P M → Photo Mechanic
^P D → DNG Converter
^P G → Graphic Converter
^P W → working images folder
… and so forth …

I use Alfred as my general app launcher. And as such could fall back to that.
I just like Apptivate for the simplicity and directness.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

Keyboard maestro could do this easily. However it’s not as simple as a dedicated app


I have Keyboard Maestro, but have not really dug into it yet. This may be the push I need for that.

If you get stuck, head over to the keyboard maestro forum :slight_smile:

Hm. Just read some another app that added a launch key … what was it…

Maybe it’s Raycast that I’m thinking about. It does t have a launch key per se, but you can set up aliases and/or hot keys for different apps, scripts, snippets, etc.

I have CapsLock mapped to F19 when I tap it1, so in practice it looks like:
CapsLock m Enter - open
CapsLock t Enter - open
CapsLock rs Enter - make the front window a reasonable size
CapsLock ch Enter - opens Raycast’s clipboard history

I’ve just started defining these aliases, as the search works really well, and I don’t usually need it. For example,
CapsLock sa Enter matches Safari.
CapsLock hs Enter matches Houdah Spot

Raycast also does window management, and tons of other things. E.g. ⌃N opens a floating notes window, and ⌃F toggles focus from the notes window to the front application.

  1. I have this programmed into my keyboard, but you could also do this with Karabiner-Elements. It’s F19 when tapped, and Hyper when held (⌃⇧⌥⌘).

I used to use this app, but it really hasn’t worked properly since Big Sur. Such a shame it was great.

Can confirm Raycast would be great for this.

Yeah, I really like its elegant simplicity. Do one thing and one thing well. Bummer that the issues go back to Big Sur. It is still working for what I want, so I’ll keep using it … while I get serious about Keyboard Maestro …

… and I just download Raycast …

It’s rabbit holes everywhere …

1 Like

Well I just downloaded Raycast, likely a project for this weekend to spend some time with it.

I’ve used Karabiner-Elements to set up CapsLock as a Meta key. I’ll now need to investigate how to set it up to do double duty. My weekend is filling up.

Thanks for the reply and the suggestions.

Thanks. As noted above it’s on my todo list.


I used Raycast for a number of months now, quite happy with it.

Not sure I understand the needs and I have not try this app but seems that KeyCue could be alternative to Apptivate ?

So far Raycast does look interesting.

I downloaded the trial of KeyCue. Alas, it is not an Apptivate replacement. And while it does have some utility, I’m not sure it will find a permeant home in my applications folder. Thank you nevertheless for suggesting it.

Keyboard Maestro has a conflict palette that will work very similarly. David Sparks makes extensive use of them and he demonstrates how he uses them to ‘funnel down’.

The idea is pretty simple in Keyboard Maestro - just assign the same keyboard shortcut to two commands, and when you press it, you’ll automatically get the “conflict palette”. It will automatically show you the first unique character.

For example, I have a keyboard combo that I use to generate nicely formatted Zoom invite emails. I press Control+Shift+Z and this appears:

You’ll notice that I chose those first unique characters so that after I press Control+Shift+Z I can press the first letter or number of the email that I want to generate.

The Keyboard Maestro forum at is a great place to get help, it’s one of my favorites. The developer hangs out there, as well as many helpful users.

Of course you can also ask them here, too, but you might have even better luck there.

Fair warning: if your change keyboard layouts (e.g. switch from Dvorak to US), it will hose your Keyboard Maestro shortcuts.
This is because the shortcuts are tied to the key on the keyboard, not the letter it represents.
My requests to the developer to fix this have been dismissed, and the conceptual example code I researched and provided was disparaged.

@MevetS The closest I can find is an app called HotKey App. it is in the app store.

Thank you. A workable if not quite as elegant solution. :slight_smile:

Thanks for looking!

While this app allows for the defining of a keyboard shortcut it does not, as I’m sure you realized, support the multi-level key sequences as Apptivate does. It, like Apptivate, is free though.

1 Like

Fortunately for my wallet, they don’t (yet) offer a keyboard with a numeric keypad in a color I like. But I think it is just a matter of time …

Thanks for bringing this to my attention? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Not sure if you’re still looking for this, but I use Thor (GitHub - gbammc/Thor: Switch the right application ASAP.), it’s a very nice and simple single-feature app, also happens to be open source.

1 Like