Rogue Automation - Random webpage and Devonthink issues

I have a high spec late 2020 Intel iMac. It works extremely well for my needs from writing a short note, to making a long movie in Final Cut Pro.
However, I am having an annoying issue with Safari and DEVONThink when things happen randomly. In Safari, I could be working on a webpage when suddenly it would be replaced by the ExpressVPN log-in screen, without any intervention from me. I thought the problem was with ExpressVPN so removed it, but the same problem now occurs with the website that is top of my Favourites list. This does not happen all the time, but frequently enough to be annoying.
In DEVONThink, the left sidebar can suddenly disappear and reappear without any action by me. I have removed the sidebar toggle tool, but that did not help. Again, this does not happen all the time, but often enough to cause frustration.
I have the latest versions of Safari and DEVONThink installed.
I do not see this with other apps (at least not yet).
Malware checks cannot find anything. I am not aware of any automation that would trigger it. I wonder if I have a hardware fault with my keyboard or trackpad that may be causing it. Is there any way to check this?
Does anyone have any ideas?

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Both actions (Safari and DEVONthink) are bound to the shortcut:

now the challenge is finding the thing that triggers this specific combination.
Any tools installed like BetterTouchTool, Keyboard Maestro, or other potential triggering software?


Thank you!
I use Keyboard Maestro, Alfred and Moom with keyboard shortcuts. I am not aware of using cmd-option-1 with any of these apps but I will check.
Sidebar disappearance on DT3, and random webpage changes on Safari have been happening when my hands are off the keyboard and trackpad. That’s why I wondered if I have, for example, a keyboard fault. i.e. a sticking key or whatever?
It looks like the Safari page that appeared randomly was the one at the top of my favourites list. It was ExpressVPN, but after I removed that it started happening with the next webpage that moved to the top of the list. So, apologies ExpressVPN for blaming you. I have now removed all the Safari favourites (transferred them to another folder) and that seems to have stopped the problem. My challenge is to find what triggered the web page change.

I have turned up the sound volume on my iMac and I can hear an occasional “pop” sound usually associated with an invalid keystroke. I am not touching any keys at the time and there are no Safari and DT3 problems.

To further explore and determine it you could follow the advice on:

  • SMC reset
  • NVRAM reset

and see whether starting up in safe-mode resolves the problem (which I expect is most likely, as my main suspicion is that there is some hidden automation somewhere).

Next step could be disabling Keyboard Maestro / Alfred / and Moom (though Moom would not be on my suspicion list direclty), see whether that resolves the issue (so you at least know better where to look).

And to be sure, you have not been trying out some ‘cron’ commands on the terminal?
(Cron is used in as a job scheduler) Or been using Hammerspoon?

And maybe there are some Automators (@RosemaryOrchard (?)) that might have some further tips to identify automations that gone haywire?

I have not been trying cron or Hammerspoon, and do not even know what they are!

I may, however, have solved the problem thanks to one of your first suggestions. I installed Better Touch Tool, but never had time to set it up properly. I had left it in the background until I had time to evaluate it properly. As it was not currently being used, I removed it early this morning, restarted my iMac and have not seen any strange Safari or DT3 issues since then.
It is too early to know for certain if this has solved the problem. If it has, I am not blaming BTT as the app has a great reputation. More likely that I configured a BTT action and forgot about it.
I will update this post in due course if the problem has been solved.


worth you changing the title of post to help future searchers for solutions to problems of this sort?

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