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Setting Up a macOS Hyper Key Using BetterTouchTool

If you’re like me, you probably love using keyboard shortcuts to speed things up on your Mac using automation tools like Keyboard Maestro. But you probably also have trouble creating keyboard shortcuts that don’t conflict with the built-in ones that ship with macOS. One way around this to mash a bunch of modifier keys (i.e. Shift-Control-Option-Command-M opens up my email client), but the human hand was not made to hit all those keys at the same time.

Which is where the concept of a hyper key comes in.

A hyper key basically simulates pressing all those modifier keys at once. I first heard about setting up a hyper key via Karabiner Elements from Brett Terpstra, and used this method for years to remap my Caps Lock key into a hyper key that made using custom keyboard shortcuts a whole lot easier. But when I switched to an M1 Mac mini I suspected the app was causing my frequent kernel panics and started looking for an alternative.

I found one in BetterTouchTool, an app that allows you to customize input devices on your Mac.

Creating the Hyper Key in BetterTouchTool

Here’s how to set up the hyper key in BetterTouchTool:

First, select All Apps in the left sidebar. Then select Keyboard Shortcuts from the drop-down at the top of the window and click the + button to create your first keyboard shortcut.

Next, assign the key you want to use as the Hyper Key by pressing it. I always use Caps Lock because I never use it for anything else.

Next, add the action you want to the key press by clicking the + button.

You can choose from a huge selection of actions. Use the search field to locate the Act as Hyper Key option and click it.

You’re done! Now you can confidently create conflict-free keyboard shortcuts like Caps Lock + M to open your email client instead of having to mangle your hand to hit Shift-Control-Option-Command-M.

BetterTouchTool has a couple of different licensing options:

  • You can buy a standard license for $8.50 USD
  • You can buy a lifetime license for $20.50 USD
  • You can access BetterTouchTool with a Setapp subscription