Skip to content
Branch: master
Find file Copy path
Find file Copy path
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
201 lines (157 sloc) 7.6 KB


Macros are a standard feature on many keyboards and Kaleidoscope-powered ones are no exceptions. Macros are a way to have a single key-press do a whole lot of things under the hood: conventionally, macros play back a key sequence, but with Kaleidoscope, there is much more we can do. Nevertheless, playing back a sequence of events is still the primary use of macros.

Playing back a sequence means that when we press a macro key, we can have it play pretty much any sequence. It can type some text for us, or invoke a complicated shortcut - the possibilities are endless!

In Kaleidoscope, macros are implemented via this plugin. You can define upto 256 macros.

Using the plugin

To use the plugin, we need to include the header, tell the firmware to use the plugin, place macros on the keymap, and create a special handler function (macroAction) that will tell the plugin what shall happen when macro keys are pressed. It is best illustrated with an example:

#include <Kaleidoscope.h>
#include <Kaleidoscope-Macros.h>

// Give a name to the macros!
enum {

// Somewhere in the keymap:

// later in the Sketch:
const macro_t *macroAction(uint8_t macroIndex, uint8_t keyState) {
  switch (macroIndex) {
  case MACRO_MODEL01:
    return MACRODOWN(I(25),
                     D(LeftShift), T(M), U(LeftShift), T(O), T(D), T(E), T(L),
                     T(0), T(1) );
    if (keyToggledOn(keyState)) {
      return Macros.type(PSTR("Hello "), PSTR("world!"));
    if (keyToggledOn(keyState)) {
      // Do something special
  return MACRO_NONE;


void setup() {
  Kaleidoscope.setup ();

Keymap markup


Places a macro key on the keymap, with the id number (0 to 255) as identifier. Whenever this key has to be handled, the macroAction overrideable function will be called, with the identifier and key state as arguments.

It is recommended to give a name to macro ids, by using an enum.

Plugin methods

The plugin provides a Macros object, with the following methods and properties available:


Plays back a macro, where a macro is a sequence created with the MACRO() helper discussed below. This method will be used by the plugin to play back the result of the macroAction() method, but is used rarely otherwise.

The macro argument must be a sequence created with the MACRO() helper!


In cases where we only want to type some strings, it is far more convenient to use this method: we do not have to use the MACRO() helper, but just give this one a set of strings, and it will type them for us on the keyboard. We can use as many strings as we want, and all of them will be typed in order.

Each string is limited to a sequence of printable ASCII characters. No international symbols, or unicode, or anything like it: just plain ASCII.

Each of strings arguments must also reside in program memory, and the easiest way to do that is to wrap the string in a PSTR() helper. See the program code at the beginning of this documentation for an example!

.row, .col

The row and col properties describe the physical position a macro was triggered from if it was triggered by a key. The playback functions do not use these properties, but they are available, would one want to create a macro that needs to know which key triggered it.

When the macro was not triggered by a key the value of these properties are unspecified.

Macro helpers

Macros need to be able to simulate key down and key up events for any key - even keys that may not be on the keymap otherwise. For this reason and others, we need to define them in a special way, using the MACRO helper (or its MACRODOWN() variant, see below):


Defines a macro, that is built up from steps (explained below). The plugin will iterate through the sequence, and re-play the steps in order.

Note: In older versions of the Macros plugin, the sequence of steps had to end with a special step called END. This is no longer required. Existing macros that end with END will still work correctly, but new code should not use END; usage of END is deprecated.


The same as the MACRO() helper above, but it will create a special sequence, where the steps are only played back when the triggering key was just pressed. That is, the macro will not be performed when the key is released, or held, or not pressed at all.

Use this over MACRO() when you only want to perform an action when the key actuates, and no action should be taken when it is held, released, or when it is not pressed at all. For a lot of macros that emit a sequence without any other side effects, MACRODOWN() is usually the better choice.

Can only be used from the macroAction() overrideable method.

MACRO steps

Macro steps can be divided into the following groups:


  • I(millis): Sets the interval between steps to millis. By default, there is no delay between steps, and they are played back as fast as possible. Useful when we want to see the macro being typed, or need to slow it down, to allow the host to process it.
  • W(millis): Waits for millis milliseconds. For dramatic effects.

Key events

Key event steps have three variants: one that prefixes its argument with Key_, one that does not, and a third that allows for a more compact - but also more limited - representation. The first are the D, U, and T variants, the second are Dr, Ur, and Tr, and the last variant are Dc, Uc, and Tc. In most cases, one is likely use normal keys for the steps, so the D, U, and T steps apply the Key_ prefix. This allows us to write MACRO(T(X)) instead of MACRO(Tr(Key_X)) - making the macro definition shorter, and more readable.

The compact variant (Dc, Uc, and Tc) prefix the argument with Key_ too, but unlike D, U, and T, they ignore the flags component of the key, and as such, are limited to ordinary keys. Mouse keys, consumer- or system keys are not supported by this compact representation.

  • D(key), Dr(key), Dc(key): Simulates a key being pressed (pushed down).
  • U(key), Ur(key), Uc(key): Simulates a key being released (going up).
  • T(key), Tr(key), Tc(key): Simulates a key being tapped (pressed first, then released).

Controlling when to send reports

While the plugin will - by default - send a report after every step, that is not always desirable. For this reason, we allow turning this implicit reporting off, and switching to explicit reporting instead. Note that the tap steps (T(), Tr(), and Tc()) will always send an implicit report, and so will Macros.type().

To control when to send reports, the following steps can be used:

  • WITH_EXPLICIT_REPORT: Prevents the plugin from sending an implicit report after every step. To send a report, one needs to have a SEND_REPORT step too.
  • WITH_IMPLICIT_REPORT: Enables sending an implicit report after every step (the default).
  • SEND_REPORT: Send a report.

Overrideable methods

macroAction(macroIndex, keyState)

The macroAction method is the brain of the macro support in Kaleidoscope: this function tells the plugin what sequence to play when given a macro index and a key state.

It should return a macro sequence, or MACRO_NONE if nothing is to be played back.

You can’t perform that action at this time.