The Most Productive Customization I've Made to My Computer This Year

Experimenting with the Hyper Key


Published: July 12, 2021

Introduction

A few weeks ago I did it. I converted my Caps Lock key into a "Hyper Key." Meaning, whenever I hit Caps Lock, it's the same as holding down Cmd + Ctrl + Option + Shift.

Let's be honest, it's hard to hold down Cmd + Ctrl + Option + Shift, at the same time. But, that also means, I didn't have any keyboard shortcuts with that combination. This opened up a whole new world of commands.

Quick Note

If you're resistant to "losing" your Caps Lock, like I was (because I actually use my Caps Lock key), I moved that functionality to my right shift key. Already, I use my left shift key exclusively, so I didn't feel like I was "losing" anything.

While I was making modifications, I also converted my right command to an extra escape key. I have the 15" Macbook Pro with the touch bar. When I'm working at my desk, I have an external keyboard. But, when I'm working directly on my laptop, I miss the tactile escape key. Plus, I'm running Better Touch Tool to customize the touch bar, which shifts my escape key over, ruining my muscle memory

Better Touch Tool Modifications

How to Set up Your Hyper Key

Go to Karabiner-Elements and download their software (it's free)

Downloading Karabiner Elements

Once it's downloaded, double click on the .dmg to unpack and open it. Then, double click on the .pkg inside and go through the install process

Package for Karabiner Elements

Click on the Complex Modifications tab.

Complex Modifications Tab

Click on the Add Rule button at the bottom left.

Add Rule Button

Click on the Import more rules from the Internet (open a web browser) button at the top.

Import Rules

As the button says, this will launch a web browser with a list of modifications you can import. There are plenty of options there, to scroll through and give you inspiration.

Web Browser with Modifications

Once you've found the one you like, click on the Import button.

Karabiner Elements Options within Browser

A pop-up will come up asking if you want to Open Karabiner-Elements.app? Click on the "Open" button.

Open Karabiner Elements App

This will launch Karabiner-Elements. It will show you a pop-up explaining the control you're importing. You can click Import to confirm or Cancel. Don't worry, you can always undo it.

Launches Karabiner Elements

As I mentioned earlier, I installed 3 different modifications:

  1. The caps lock key simulates hitting the Cmd + Ctrl + Shift + Option key
  2. The Right Shift key is the "new" caps lock key β€” Interestingly enough, the light on the "real" caps lock key goes on and off whenever I hit the "new" shift key.
  3. The Right Command key is a second escape key.
Complex Modifications Listed

Shortcuts I've set up

Keyboard Maestro

I set up all the keyboard shortcuts through a program called Keyboard Maestro. Unfortunately, this program is not free and costs $36. β€” but, definitely worth it. The options it provides seem endless.

Keyboard Maestro

If you click through the groups in the left panel, you'll find a bunch of "macros" that you can enable and pair with a keyboard shortcut. Of course, you can also create your own custom commands.

Most of the commands I've created are designed to jump between my favorite applications.

  • Hyper + B: Opens Chrome
  • Hyper + C: Opens VS Code
  • Hyper + E: Opens Spark (my email client of choice)
  • Hyper + F: Opens Finder
  • Hyper + M: Opens Messages
  • Hyper + N: Opens Notion

I have a few commands for navigating to my favorite directories:

  • Hyper + P: jumps to the Projects directory
  • Hyper + S: Opens the YouTube video directory
  • Hyper + Y: Opens the Compressed.fm directory

A couple of miscellaneous items from Keyboard Maestro (not necessarily related to my Hyper Key):

  • Ctrl + Shift + G: Searches the Internet. This is great for a quick Google Search
  • Hyper + V: will paste whatever is in my clipboard without any styling. - You know when you copy something that's been formatted (bold / italics). This strips out all the formatting before pasting.

Better Touch Tool

I mentioned earlier, that I have Better Touch Tool installed on my computer, as well. Unfortunately, this program isn't free either. $8.50 will give you updates for 2 years. $20.50 will give you lifetime updates.

Better Touch Tool

NOTE: Where this program really shines is extending the functionality of your trackpad or customizing your touch bar.

I set up some keyboard shortcuts here, too, since it has some great options for window management. Here are the commands I setup:

  • Hyper + D: Shows the Desktop.
  • Hyper + 1: Makes the current window 100% tall. I found that when I was plugging/unplugging from my external monitor, windows would resize. This allows me to resize my window quickly.
  • Hyper + A: When I'm editing on my ultrawide monitor, I have a particular window configuration I like to use when I'm editing videos. When I hit this keyboard shortcut, my windows automatically rearrange for this workflow.
  • Hyper + H: Hides all windows.

I use the next 3 commands together:

  • Hyper + J: Snaps and fills the window to the left third of the screen
  • Hyper + K: Snaps and fills the window the center third of the screen
  • Hyper + L: Snaps and fills the window to the right third of the screen

The next 2 commands are similar:

  • Hyper + Left Arrow: Moves the current window one space to the left. β€” This is great if you use the Apple Spaces feature. I can quickly move windows from one space to the next with my keyboard.
  • Hyper + Right Arrow: Moves the current window one space to the right.

Conclusion

This all took a little bit of setup, but the ~30 minutes to an hour set up has been well worth it and it has made moving around my computer with the keyboard so much faster.

In the Comments...

What keyboard shortcuts do you have set up? Any I should add to the mix?

Comments

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