bit-gamer.net

Thoughts On Macro Keys

Posted on 19th Sep 2010 at 08:39 by Paul Goodhead with 40 comments

Paul Goodhead
Macro keys on keyboards and mice are almost always aimed at the enthusiast MMO player. Their function is to allow users to execute a long chain of keyboard or mouse commands at the touch of a single button, which is a useful ability in games such as WoW. As a result macro keys are becoming a common feature on gaming mice and keyboards.

It was confusing for Clive then to hear me say that I love macro keys, even though I don’t play any of the MMO games which they are classically associated with. This is because I put my macro keys on my G15 at home to a far less entertaining use than which they were originally intended - entering common information on websites.

I thought it was a pretty logical idea that others would have thought of (I’m sure people have, but none of them are in the bit-tech offices). I’m forever having to enter long and boring lines of text into websites, be it an email address, a password or a house address, why not just map them keystrokes to a macro and enter my awkwardly long personal email address in one simple key press.

You can even map ‘tab’ keys into your macros, so you can make it enter your email address, then tab to the next line to enter your password. Take this to the next step and you can have your keyboard filling out your entire address on a delivery form for some goods you’ve bought online.

Thoughts On Macro Keys On Macro Keys
I've got copy and paste bound to the two buttons on the edge of the main buttons

Obviously there are some drawbacks. Having your password mapped to a macro button isn’t exactly secure, but if you live with people you trust it’s not a problem. The whole entering your address thing can also get flummoxed by different website layouts; some will require tabs in different places for example.

I’ve also found the macro keys useful on the CM Storm Inferno mouse I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I liked the mouse so much I’m still using it today (let’s hope they don’t ask for it back) and I’ve mapped the buttons on the outside edge of either of the main buttons as macros. The left hand one is mapped as Ctrl+C and the right hand one as Ctrl+V giving me quick and easy copy and paste commands.

Like I said, I’m sure I’m not alone in using macro keys in this way, it just surprised me that nobody in at bit-tech HQ had thought to do the same, so I thought I’d throw it out to you guys. Do you use your macro keys to make everyday tasks quicker or do you keep them exclusively for your gaming needs? Let me know in the forums.

40 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Buzzons 19th September 2010, 09:53 Quote
roboform is prob a better solution for filling out forms by the way :)
The_Beast 19th September 2010, 10:10 Quote
The forward and back "keys" on my mouse are super nice for switching from rifle to pistol in BFBC2. I can tell I'm getting more pistol kill and less deaths after I bought the mouse
billysielu 19th September 2010, 10:35 Quote
I specifically buy keyboards without macro keys. I play a game requiring extensive use of Tab, Shift, Ctrl - so I rest my hand exactly where the macro keys would be. Even if I didn't play that, my decision would be the same, because I can't remember a standard key set let alone what each macro key does - I'm a mouse-man.
Somebody_007 19th September 2010, 10:37 Quote
Hmm suprising no-one else does that. I do exactly the same. I use 1 macro for my email addres, another for google, another for bit-tech :P, etc..... The only ones I really use for games are the 2 on my mouse, because in the end all games are made to be functional with a regular keyboard and mouse so you don't need say 5 macros to be able to do all the commands easily.
billysielu 19th September 2010, 10:37 Quote
In terms of mice, I use only one macro key - a thumb key - for push-to-talk. So I can headshot you and brag about it simultaneously.
KayDat 19th September 2010, 10:57 Quote
I assign Ctrl-Shift-Tab to scroll left, Ctrl-Tab to scroll right on my mouse and the button typically used for Back is instead mapped to Ctrl-W. This allows me to single-handedly surf and navigate pages and change tabs effortlessly. When I upgraded my G7 to a G9x (graciously provided by Logitech for free, since the gawful G7 always dropped out), I also mapped Ctrl-0 to the Forward button, and the Sensitivity +/- buttons to Ctrl-Plus and Ctrl-Minus, for zoom.
tripwired 19th September 2010, 11:47 Quote
Hmm macro keys are certainly useful, personally I find them more useful for work (design) purposes than games. Speaking of which, I was browsing through the bit-tech archives and came across a review of the WolfKing Warrior. Does anyone know if you had that and a standard keyboard attached at the same time, could I create macros specifically for the keys on the Warrior? So, for example, could I use 'F' on the second keyboard as 'Ctrl+Shift+F' without it also mapping to the first keyboard?

Might have to wait till tomorrow when I can test with two keyboards at work.
DriftCarl 19th September 2010, 12:50 Quote
i use my G15 macro keys in starcraft2,
Never thought about putting form information on them, I find it hard to get use to using the macro keys though
eddtox 19th September 2010, 13:02 Quote
I often considered getting a Nostromo Speedpad (?) when I was doing CAD work. I think I could have been much more productive with that.

Failing that, a usb number pad would have been great - who the hell came up with the idea of putting the numpad on the right of the keyboard so that you have to take your hand of the mouse to enter numbers? It used to drive me mad. And don't tell me I could use the number row at the top, because it's absolutely useless for entering lots of numbers quickly.
Deadpunkdave 19th September 2010, 13:25 Quote
I use a g5, for CS:S push left on wheel is rifle, push right is pistol, saved me many a time. I have my G15 keys set up for standard chat stuff but I can't remember what does what any more so its pretty useless. Tbh, most of the stuff you mentioned is handled by letting my browser save commonly used info with a bit of discretion.
Somebody_007 19th September 2010, 13:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddtox
I often considered getting a Nostromo Speedpad (?) when I was doing CAD work. I think I could have been much more productive with that.

Failing that, a usb number pad would have been great - who the hell came up with the idea of putting the numpad on the right of the keyboard so that you have to take your hand of the mouse to enter numbers? It used to drive me mad. And don't tell me I could use the number row at the top, because it's absolutely useless for entering lots of numbers quickly.

Lol I have a sidewinder x6 and I put my numbad on the left next to my macros ;)
Pookeyhead 19th September 2010, 13:45 Quote
I use my G110 keys in WoW a lot, but not for actual game play, but for bringing up menus and stuff in "down time" in the auction house, or searching for raid groups etc. I tend to use the buttons on my G5 mouse more for actual playing. For moving I obviously use WASD, but when engaged, I move my hand right, and have mapped ERTYDFGHCVB as macro keys, as It just seems to work for me. I have my G5 buttons mainly for breaking CC spells and other trinkets/spells for breaking out of anything that stops me moving (druid roots, hunter traps etc).

I follow this same pattern for other games too. Custom keys mainly for controlling menus and functions, and rely on the main keyboard for actual game play.
FelixTech 19th September 2010, 14:42 Quote
In TF2 having my two thumb buttons bound to 3 (melee weapon) and b (last disguise) makes being a spy that much more effective! ^^

Am I right in thinking that a keystroke assignment and a macro are not the same thing? I thought a macro was a sequence of actions rather than just the one.
b5k 19th September 2010, 15:12 Quote
Macro keys can be abused to cheat. Allowing, in instances where it matters, users to execute long command sequences in rapid succession unlike a human being is capable of clearly gives the user an advantage over the other. If hardware macroing is perfectly acceptable then so too must be software macroing? Alas, this is not true. World of Warcrafts own EULA states that macroing of any kind is in breach of the EULA. Only difference between a G15 and AutoHotKey is that it's easier for Blizzard to spot you're using AHK.

I can think of a few RTS games I've played that've been completely ruined by Macros.
The boy 4rm oz 19th September 2010, 15:37 Quote
I find the macro keys pointless in game, personally I find it boarder line cheating because some keyboards allow you to bind a series of commands together and alter their timings which is unfair for the vast majority.

I do however use a few keys on my G15 for desktop tasks such as opening Word or Firefox etc. I do use the buttons on my mouse as well, they are great for using as the voice chat command in game.
sear 19th September 2010, 15:55 Quote
Or you can just use the LastPass add-on for Firefox to have it remember types of forms, save your personal information and autofill it as necessary. No overpriced macro keys required!
G0UDG 19th September 2010, 16:11 Quote
I have to agree in online play macros should not be allowed as they give an unfair advantage to those using them, I personally consider the use of macros in online gaming to be cheating if used in the way outlined by 4rm. I use a razer tarantula for my gaming which as you guys know has macro keys my macro use is restricted to opening files IE:PRESSING L1 OR R1 ETC to open a specific programme whether that be cs4 or whatever not for online cheating
AstralWanderer 19th September 2010, 16:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by b5k
...Only difference between a G15 and AutoHotKey is that it's easier for Blizzard to spot you're using AHK.
I'm surprised no-one mentioned AutoHotKey sooner - an amazingly powerful (and free!) program that can set macros to keys, mouse and joystick buttons. Sample scripts showing its capability can be found on Wikipedia's AutoHotKey description and the AutoHotKey Script Showcase.

For the record, I have a Microsoft Sidewinder Strategic Commander which has nifty macro features (and buttons which light up when assigned!) which can be handy with some games - just have to take the time to program (and remember!) those buttons...
schmidtbag 19th September 2010, 16:28 Quote
i do this macro thing but with a fingerprint reader. i wrote a program for linux where all 10 of my fingerprints can do something different. i could scan one and start up a web browser directly into my e-mail, or i could use the same fingerprint and log-into a website using the same account information. this way theres no security risk but its just as convenient
pimonserry 19th September 2010, 16:34 Quote
My MX Revolution has the thumb scroll-wheel bound to Next Track, Play/Pause, and Previous Track.

That's about it I think.
bigsharn 19th September 2010, 16:48 Quote
They're damn useful for photoshop, but because I get budget keyboards anyway it doesn't make that much difference and I have a touchscreen next to my keyboard that I use instead
RichCreedy 19th September 2010, 18:01 Quote
teamspeak servers mapped to g-keys
bagman 19th September 2010, 18:10 Quote
i have 18 macro keys on my keyboard and i have never used any of them ever

i might just start using them now though
Simon bridgeford 19th September 2010, 19:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzons
roboform is prob a better solution for filling out forms by the way :)

i use last pass, it will recognise form names and autofill information into text boxes, it will even save passwords to the cloud so i can access my passwords when i am away from my normal pc.
wuyanxu 19th September 2010, 19:44 Quote
call me lazy, but i've mapped "gg :)" into one of my G15 macro keys......
Material 19th September 2010, 20:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
call me lazy, but i've mapped "gg :)" into one of my G15 macro keys......

Lazy
jonni3 19th September 2010, 21:42 Quote
I use the macro keys on my G11 for desktop shortcuts (to keep a nice clean desktop) & as keystroke macros in programs like cs4 etc,etc.
Don't really use the for gaming. :-]
Delphium 20th September 2010, 10:11 Quote
Funny enough I have the Microsoft Sidewinder X6 keyboard which is laced with macro keys some even dual or tri funtion.

Yet the only macros I have assigned are a couple of voice commands in TF2, like "Z+2" (Thanks!) as my most used.
The other keys I have assigned are to control Winamp while in game, along with 2 keys to switch Eyefinity profiles and another to put all the monitors to sleep when im finished using the PC.
Xir 20th September 2010, 10:19 Quote
Don't use any Macro's at all...
Quote:
The left hand one is mapped as Ctrl+C and the right hand one as Ctrl+V giving me quick and easy copy and paste commands.
Sheesh, I thought that's what Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V were for! ;)

Ctrl+shift+tab...why haven't I found that one before? :D
You also have a way of showing two Tabs next to eachother (in Firefox)?
Omnituens 20th September 2010, 11:14 Quote
My G15 has been used for many things, such as:

Minecraft summon commands
Eve FIRE THE MISSLES (before weapon groupings were added)
DotA (rebind ability keys to same layout)
Weapon quick reloading for Alien Swarm (not 100% reliable)
Tower defenses where you spawn creeps (have been known to crash game engines)
/point /facepalm WoW
Kiytan 20th September 2010, 15:20 Quote
i have the macro keys down the side of my keyboard do the following:

Open My computer
Open Calculator
Open Notepad
Minimize to Desktop
<game specific things>
Sloth 20th September 2010, 19:14 Quote
For MMOs (WoW/WAR mainly) I always used the in game macro system and then put those buttons on my action bars to click when needed. All useful abilities could be accessed via 1-5, f,v,e,q and two mouse buttons, along with shift+any of those. Never really saw the use for elaborate macros to rotate abilities and such, even in vaguely high end PvP.

The RAT7 has been getting me into macros a bit, however. The two side buttons are always useful for mouse targetted abilties since I can aim and activate with one hand. The side scroll wheel also proves very useful for quick access macros, though I only use it for things which can't accidentally be activated more than once due to the scroll clicking many times. Its also an amazing way to switch between tabs while still retaining the forward/back buttons on the side.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
call me lazy, but i've mapped "gg :)" into one of my G15 macro keys......
Did that for CoD4. Bound to the G button no less.
[USRF]Obiwan 21st September 2010, 11:47 Quote
I have a G11. I have programmed some function keys to start up programs. The big problem with function keys is that you going to forget in time what the function keys macros are. In the end i do not use it any more because i do not have a clue which one does what.
Xir 21st September 2010, 12:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
In the end i do not use it any more because i do not have a clue which one does what.

Press them, you'll see :D (as long as it isn't FORMAT C:, yes, yes)
Blademrk 21st September 2010, 14:27 Quote
I like the macro keys on my G11 (especially since you can configure them per application).

I've got several configured to rename tracks in iTunes, I've bought a fair few audiobooks and set them up with a "Title, Disc, Track#" format so they will at least play in order on my (non-apple) mp3 player (which ignores things like track number) and the macros make renaming them a snap).
korhojoa 21st September 2010, 15:47 Quote
I'm wondering if anyone maps the macro keys to press the hotkeys for switching between different consoles/screens. I'd see this as handy with a KVM, I was thinking of getting one for my servers, and I'd definitely get a keyboard with macros and map the console change key combos to that. Who wants to be pressing "Left Alt, Right Control, F9" When you could just be pressing a key that just switches to the console you want?
somidiot 21st September 2010, 20:04 Quote
I use my extra button on my G500 to open putty which I use quite a bit at work. I was thinking of using the traditional scroll right click and left for copy and paste ....

I think macros can be handy for increasing productivity.
Farfalho 22nd September 2010, 18:02 Quote
Never thought of macros that way and now I see I could get more out of my (already sold) Roccat Valo then I thought!

Oh well, only when my keyboard dies I will search for a keyboard with macros. About the mouse, I might use the profiles it allows me to save and switch between them for a certain task leaving a profile for gaming.
edzieba 22nd September 2010, 19:19 Quote
My ageing MX Revolution is set up web browsing: thumb wheel is ctrl-(shift)-tab and crtl-w, and the two thumb buttons are crtl-t and crtl-shift-t.
runadumb 23rd September 2010, 06:42 Quote
I have never bothered with Macros but may give them a try and see if I can come up with anything useful. Really should make better use of assigning mouse/keyboard buttons to games though. Flicking through weapons with the scrollwheel costs me lives.
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