I recently upgraded to Snow Leopard, from Leopard and I was using an awesome app called Spark that let you remap your keys, set scripts/macros and even had repeat functionality.

However, this app doesn't seem to be in active development anymore, and 10.6 broke the ability to bind certain modifier keys (Shift) with other keys.

I totally miss things like Shift+Insert for paste (Linux/Windows), setting Ctrl+Shift+Esc for Activity Monitor, and Ctrl+Alt+Del for the login window.

So, how can I achieve this instead?


See if KeyRemap4MacBook (now renamed Karabiner) meets your needs. You can actually recompile (now just configure) to add more mappings to it, if you need. (Also, it's not just for MacBooks.)

  • Thanks, I've actually been using it to remap insert to f13 and adding: $\UF710" = "paste:"; in ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict to use shift+ins. – Jack Chu Oct 17 '09 at 10:05
  • 1
    As of March 2017, it says it doesn't support macOS Sierra. – A-B-B Mar 30 '17 at 13:15
  • And it doesn't. Apparently Apple changed the whole subsystem he was using. He's working on a replacement called Karabiner-Elements, but the feature set is currently much smaller. – wfaulk Mar 30 '17 at 13:17

In Snow Leopard, Automator allows you to create Services, for which you can then assign a keyboard shortcut. So, if you can mimic the task in some Apple Script, then that might be an option. Like: bind Command-L to Fast User Switching.

To start programs like Activity Monitor there's a built-in action "Launch Application". For other tasks, rather than "Run Shell Script" as used in the example above, you probably need "Run AppleScript". Like to paste just anything:

on run {input, parameters}
  tell application "System Events"
    keystroke "v" using command down
  end tell
  return input
end run

I am no AppleScript expert so the above can probably be improved. (However, I think the built-in action "Get Contents of Clipboard" cannot be used to actually paste anything, and even it could then it would be limited to just text.)

  • Thanks for this, but the key combinaitons you can use in keyboard shortcuts seems limited. You can't bind ctrl+shift+esc or ctrl+alt+del for example. – Jack Chu Oct 17 '09 at 10:30
  • Then un-accept this! People will now think your problem is solved! And maybe change the title to include those keys? (And, just to make sure you'll hate me and un-accept my answer: Mac OS X does not have an Alt-key ;-) See superuser.com/questions/25005/…) – Arjan Oct 17 '09 at 10:53
  • Hah.. well I use an external PC keyboard so I map alt to command and windows key to option. Depending on the keys you want to bind though your suggestion is probably the best way to bind macros and shortcut and you don't even need a separate app. – Jack Chu Oct 18 '09 at 17:30

FastScripts is a good alternative. Keyboard Maestro is much more powerful (and expensive).

  • Keyboard Maestro ftw! – frnhr Apr 19 '12 at 21:25

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