Create simple text notes using Keyboard Maestro and TextEdit

Sometimes you just want to make a note on your Mac. Nothing fancy – just a text file that’s searchable, giving you quick and easy access. There are several ways to do this, but most are more complex then necessary. If you have Keyboard Maestro, however, you can easily create a simple macro that provides a streamlined solution using TextEdit.

Such files store simple snippets of information. For example, I’ve recorded my Writers’ Guild membership number in this way, so if I ever need to quote my number all I have to do is use Spotlight (I actually use Alfred but it’s a similar thing), type the file name, and hit return to open said file. I have lots of others, and storing these in a Dropbox folder called Notes means I can access them using the Files app on my phone.

TextEdit is a stalwart of the Mac, but for many uses, such as blogging or coding, it’s been supplanted by more use-specific apps with added functionality. Yet it’s TextEdit’s simplicity and lack of bloat that make it particularly appealing in this case.

First off, launch TextEdit, open Preferences, and set a couple of defaults. In Preferences, I set new documents to open as plain text, to streamline and simplify, and set the plain text font to Menlo 14pt so it’s nice and easy to read.

The macro itself is quite simple, requiring the following steps:

  • Open TextEdit
  • Create a new file
  • Save that file to give it a name

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 11.37.23

Then all you have to do is type your note, and quit when finished. When saving in TextEdit for the first time, navigate to the folder in which you store your notes, and the app will continue to use this path unless you dictate otherwise.

To make this process really convenient, assign a hotkey to the macro – I have OPT+1 set to several macros, which gives me a palette; I just hit the appropriate number – in this case 6 – and Bob’s yer uncle.

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 11.38.58

I previously used nvALT to create such notes, but when I upgraded my computer it was one of those apps I didn’t bring to the new machine. iA Writer, in which I’m drafting this post, can also be used for this purpose. Yet while Writer’s a great-looking and functional app whose files are searchable, for something as simple a one-line or even one-word text note, there are just too many layers to the processes of creation, saving and organisation.

As with most things Keyboard Maestro, thinking about each step is key – there are often more than you expect, and you may need to add pauses to allow each step to be completed before the computer tries to take the next. The real trick is examining the way you work, and finding ways to utilise Keyboard Maestro’s extensive capabilities.


I’m a writer, editor, and Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
Find out more, tweet me, or email.

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