Keyboards with Macro Keys

While it is possible to use special keyboard shortcuts for repeated functions or text, remembering them all can be a challenge. There are so many keyboard shortcuts in use anyway by different applications. Finding the right combination of keys that don’t clash with pre-existing shortcuts is not for the faint of heart.

Macro Keys

Enter the keyboard macro key. This simplifies things no end. For the past ten years I’ve bought only keyboards with macro keys. Initially Logitech G series, but more recently Razer, then my current favourite Corsair Vengeance K95 RGB. It’s expensive, as keyboards go, though I’ve seen it recently at around A$129 (about a third off), but it’s well worth it.

 

The three columns on the left are the macro keys, numbered G1 to G18. Three profile buttons, M1 – M3, enable these to be reused, making 54 available in total:

So far, I’ve managed with the functions in the M1 profile. It provides me with shortcuts for text strings I regularly use, like my email address, name and address, select all and copy (Ctrl-A Ctrl-C), and so on. I’m not a game player, but if I were, I could create another profile — M2 or M3 — for special actions. (Each profile can have different key colours.) All the profiles are stored in the keyboard, so using it with another computer doesn’t require reconfiguration.

The MR button is for recording macros, though these can be set up in the accompanying software.

Keys

Colours

As you’ll have noticed, the keys have different colours. They are backlit and the colours are individually configurable. Here’s my selection:

I’ve grouped them according to usage, the different colours helping me to distinguish between them.  The Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software enables colours and effects, as well as macros, to be set up.

Characteristics

The keys are mechanical Cherry MX Red switches. They provide audible feedback, which I need, though some may think they’re too noisy.  I find the mechanical experience preferable to keys that press against a membrane. Without audible responses, I find I miss characters.

Conclusion

I have used the K95 for the past year and it’s never faulted. Though it won’t be to everyone’s taste — it’s advertised as a gamer’s keyboard — the tactile, visual, and audible feedback from this well-crafted piece of equipment is exactly what I needed.

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