iKey 2.0, by Script Software
Posted: 24-Mar-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Script Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: James Richvalsky Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$30   Download

Overview
iKey is a Mac OS X program that allows you to assign global hot keys to various actions. It supports the following features:

  • Tell your computer to launch, switch, show, quit and re-launch software applications, or to open specific documents
  • Simulate both keydown events and mouse events (i.e., control the computer as if someone were physically using the keyboard and the mouse)
  • Copying, Pasting and adding to the clipboard

Requirements
Any Mac running OS X 10.2 or higher.

Setup
Installation is a snap. Just download the program from
Script Software's website. Then copy the folder into the applications directory and it is ready to use. The first time you use the iKey editor, it will prompt you to run as an administrator (i.e., asks for a password).

In Use
iKey is very simple to use. To get your started, iKey contains 15 built in shortcuts. The two I found most useful involve iTunes. The first shortcut key is "Apple + Option + Space". This shortcut will play/pause iTunes. Since this is a global shortcut, I use it a lot to pause a song when I'm surfing the web and the phone rings. There is also "Apple + Option + Right arrow" which allows you to go to the next track. This is great for skipping tracks since I usually listen to music on random.

Also, you can create your own shortcuts. To create your own shortcut, launch the iKey Editor. After the iKey Editor is open, select "New". Then the shortcut screen appears.


Creating a Shortcut in iKey

As shown in the figure above, iKey has the common Mac aqua screen with four main fields: Name, Commands, Hot Key (hidden in the photo), and Contexts. "Name" is the name of the shortcut. "Commands" are the actions to perform. The plus sign loads a menu with options such as Application, AppleScript, etc., and each option has a sub menu list several choices. After a command is selected, a "Hot Key" can be assigned (the key that activates the commands). "Contexts" allows you to assign the hot key as Universal or only relative to a certain application. Then press "Save" and you are done.

NOTE: One problem I stumbled upon is that after creating a new shortcut, it did not seem to take immediate effect. You must exit the iKey editor for it to take effect.

I found the iKey software very intuitve and easy to use. It has a Mac savvy interface, and in all of my tests, the software created the shortcuts I wanted reliably and mostly without incident. I did run into a problem with trying to overlay a Mac OS X pre-defined shortcut. I tried to assign a shortcut to "Apple + a", but because that was already assigned to something else, iKey wouldn't let me overwrite it.

Here are some sample shortcuts I created using the iKey Editor:

"Apple + Option + a"

This shortcut pastes my address into the current application. This is very useful when I need to email directions to my friends.

"Apple + Option + y"

This shortcut opens Yahoo.com in a new window.

"Apple + Option + c"

This shortcut executes an AppleScript that I created to move all files on my desktop to the trash.


For those familiar with QuicKeys (a commercial application for Mac OS X), iKeys is very similar to QuicKeys in functionality. Both QuicKeys and iKey allow the user to assign hot keys to various actions, and both contain methods to assign timers to these same actions. However, QuicKeys contains the ability to allow you to record actions and save them to a hot key. This is something that I miss in iKey. I don't own QuicKeys, so there may or may not be other differences between the two. In any case, iKey is shareware and a much more affordable ($30 compared to $99 for QuicKeys).

Summary
iKey is a great piece of software that can allow you to assign hot keys to various tasks. Currently, the only Mac I own is a Powerbook, so anytime I can use a keyboard shortcut I am very happy. Since I started using iKey, this gem has saved me up to an hour a week using shortcuts. iKey does not allow you to override Mac OS X pre-defined shortcuts, and it doesn't support all of the features of QuicKeys (such as recordable scripts). Overall, I found the iKey to be reliable and very easy to use. For those looking for an affordable solution to creating shortcuts in Mac OS X, I highly recommend taking a look at iKey.

Pros

  • Saves time
  • Efficient
  • Replaces repetitive tasks
  • Affordable price (iKey is $30 vs $99 for QuicKeys)


Cons

  • No script record function
  • Cannot overlay OS X pre-defined shortcuts


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice