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I've seen several screencasts (recorded on Mac OS X) which show a nice little "toast" indicating which shortcut key is being pressed by the screencaster, typically in the middle of the screen. Is this a feature of the screencasting software? Is there an app that does this that stands alone?

I regularly do presentations for programming classes, and I want a way to show my audience what shortcuts I'm activating.

8 Answers 8

58

Screenflow has an option to display the pressed keys, but they will only be shown in the recorded screencast.

There are also standalone apps that display the keys in real time like Keycastr and Mouseposé.

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    @jm666 You can install it from brew: brew cask install keycastr Oct 16, 2016 at 16:02
  • Keycastr is not show "shift" key pressed in Default visualizer. But shows in Svelte.
    – byJeevan
    Dec 23, 2018 at 10:49
  • Keycastr currently appears broken on Mojave and Mouseposé has been broken/abandoned (?) for years as per App Store comments. Visualize also hasn't been updated in years, but it still works fine on macOS 10.14
    – maxheld
    Jan 8, 2019 at 17:39
  • 1
    Updated command to quickly install: brew install --cask keycastr
    – CSawy
    May 18 at 4:04
14

At least on macOS Sierra, there is a way to natively show keys on-screen. However there are a couple limitations/things to be aware of:

  • it piggybacks on the "Sticky Keys" accessibility setting, which changes the way modifier keys work (you just press them, and don't have to hold them)
  • it will only show modifier keys; it won't show the final character (Ex: for CMD+P, it will only show CMD, and once you press "P" it disappears)

To enable this:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. In the categories along the left, select Keyboard
  3. Select Enable Sticky Keys
  4. Next to Enable Sticky Keys, click the Options... button
  5. Select Display pressed keys on screen (and alternatively change where it appears). Click OK.

This fit my use case, and with Mouseposé at $9.99 (at the time of posting this) and KeyCastr crashing on startup for me, I thought I'd share. Hope this helps some people!

Sticky Keys - Display pressed keys on screen

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    The limitations you mentioned kind of defeat the purpose Apr 19, 2018 at 1:51
  • not showing function key been pressed
    – Bastet
    Jul 9, 2020 at 4:01
  • Accessibility > Keyboard > Viewer > Enable Accessibility Keyboard. (does not require sticky keys) Feb 3 at 19:26
10

I’m recording lots of tutorials / screencasts too and was very unhappy with existing solutions for macOS (most of them seem broken or just ugly). So I’ve decided to make my own keystroke app:

Download: https://ixeau.com/apps/keystroke-pro/

Video: https://youtu.be/3koqaw99uKA (30 seconds)

Features:

  • Animated keystrokes look gorgeous in light and dark
  • Works great with macOS Mojave
  • Individual designed keys for common ISO and ANSI keyboard layouts
  • Localized for 23 languages

enter image description here

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  • 10
    It sure is beautiful, but also quite expensive :/
    – Ev0oD
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:03
  • Almost good except, i need an option to not show keystrokes for simple Shift + Letters when I need to type Capital letters. It Needs more options. Nov 2, 2020 at 17:24
  • price is $13.99 Feb 3 at 19:27
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KeyCastr has been taken over by new management and works perfectly well as of this writing (April 2021). There is a new release only a couple of months old. I'm typing with it on Big Sur...

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It may be a bit subte, or lacking in simplicity, but you can always open the built-in Keyboard Viewer app, and have that visible on screen during your screen recording - it will show whatever you're typing at the time, even when it's in the background.

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Free, built-in solution on macOS Mojave:

System Preferences > Accessibility > Keyboard > Viewer > Enable Accessibility Keyboard

accessibility keyboard (dark mode)

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  • Is this a particular version of macOS? Big Sur doesn't seem to have this. Feb 4 at 18:22
  • @ClayBridges good point; I'm using Mojave Feb 5 at 21:04
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Although it looks like there's starting to be a lot of options, none of them fit what I wanted. Here's what I built: https://keylimepie.app

keylimepie screenshot

Here are the initial features, based on what I was looking for:

  • A free option (the watermark removal is a small one time in-app-purchase)
  • The ability to drag it to where I want
  • "Key" views that look fine in light and dark mode
  • Only show keyboard shortcuts by default, but optionally show all keystrokes (mainly to show modifier key presses)
  • Holding the modifier keys keeps the shortcut on the screen as long as I want.
  • Simplicity (I really just need to communicate shortcuts and don't care for much else)

The current version as of this writing is pretty barebones, and although simplicity is a priority, I do plan on adding more to it.

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  • Ordinary keys can only be displayed one by one and can't customize the position of keystrokes.
    – hustnzj
    Nov 21 at 2:18
  • The motivation behind the app is displaying keyboard shortcuts. The position of the keystroke view can be selected from within the menu bar menu, or the view can be dragged around using the mouse.
    – Ryan H
    Nov 22 at 3:16
  • Indeed, the view can be dragged around using the mouse, my fault. The app would be great if the ordinary keys can be shown in the way of KeyCastr.
    – hustnzj
    Nov 23 at 13:23
-1

I am using KeyDrawer for recording streams:

https://aquatious.com/keydrawer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhUG-hQY1cg)

The drawn keys look like native Macbook's/Magic keyboard keys, can be placed anywhere on your screen, scaled to whatever size you want without losing quality, etc:

KeyDrawer Pro Light KeyDrawer Pro Dark

Otherwise all recommended above apps I tried are very similar. If you're looking for a free alternative, I suppose there should be a better rendering plugin for keycastr, since the default one unfortunately looks far from perfect or perhaps someone should finally make one.

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