A Beginner’s Guide to Hotkeys and Macros

If you’re new to the computer world, or just trying to learn more about it, you may have wondered about the use of hotkeys and macros. You may know what they are but you may not know exactly how to use them.

a beginners guide to hotkeys and macros

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In this article, I will be explaining exactly what these things are and how to set them up on your keyboard to make life easier, either with gaming or with editing videos. You can really use them for anything that you might be doing on your PC.

What are Hotkeys?

Hotkeys are the simplest of the two. What are hotkeys? A hotkey is when you set one or more of your keys to do a specific task. You could have a key that plays the video, or a key that opens a certain file. When gaming, hot keys are used to have certain weapons or spells activated when pressing a specific hotkey.

Hotkeys are easier to use. This is because you don’t need any special hardware or software, and it’s built into pretty much any program that you’re going to use. Here’s a link to hotkeys for Windows 10 by Cnet

Setting up Hotkeys

Setting up hotkeys on your wireless or wired keyboard is easy! Depending on the program you’re using, you will need to set up hotkeys to your preference. Usually, you can find this in settings. There should be a section called hotkeys.

Hotkeys are usually already programmed however, if you click one of the hotkeys you can change it to whatever you want. This is useful because you might get used to a certain hotkey performing a certain action for one program but then another program might have the same hotkey doing something completely different.

This happens to me a lot when I’m playing games. A certain hotkey might do something like use a certain tool or weapon. Then, in a different game, it might open up the map or do something else. The same thing could happen with a video editing program. Maybe one program you use, the hotkey might trim a video clip, but in a different program that same hotkey will delete a video clip. You can see how this would cause a lot of problems and be quite annoying.

Realizing that it’s possible to change the hotkeys is very beneficial. A lot of people don’t even use hotkeys. But hotkeys are really amazing and can save you a lot of time performing certain tasks so I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with hotkeys and using them a lot more.

What are Macros?

What are macro keys used for? Macros are pretty similar to hotkeys in that, you press a key or multiple keys to do a specific task. However, macros don’t do just one task they do a series of tasks. For example, you could set up a macro to split a video clip and also remove the unwanted part of the clip with one keystroke. Macro keys are really useful and can speed up the process of editing video, or give you a competitive edge when gaming. However, be careful with using it in games because some developers may consider it cheating.

Setting up Macros

When it comes to setting up macros on your keyboard I highly recommend purchasing a keyboard that has dedicated macro buttons. Either this or buy a keyboard that is actually designed to be a macro keyboard. I recommend the following:

Corsair K55 RGB Gaming Keyboard

  • Quiet & Satisfying LED Backlit Keys
  • Media Controls
  • Wrist Rest Included
  • Onboard Macro Recording

Click the image to check price on amazon

The reason you want a keyboard designed with macros is that, through my research, I have found doing any kind of workaround is very complicated for the average person. I’m not saying it’s impossible and if you want a tutorial on how to use any keyboard as a macro keyboard here is a YouTube video doing just that:

However, if you aren’t super tech-savvy and want to use macro keys, do yourself a favor and just buy a macro keyboard or a macro pad.

Some applications actually have macro support built into them for example, Microsoft Office allows you to program any key to be a macro. So, if you’re using a program like this then you don’t actually need any dedicated hardware to use macros. However, a lot of applications you may be using, such as games, don’t offer this to the user. This is where some people may find workarounds to get around this with their regular keyboard. This can be pretty complicated and I don’t recommend it to the average user. Therefore, in these situations, you will definitely want to use a macro keyboard.

Macro pads will allow you to record commands, either directly on the device or by using their own custom software to create multi-step commands and save them on a tiny memory chip inside the device. The commands can then be executed with a single button press.


When it comes to using hotkeys and macros, there really is a lot more you could learn. There are so many ways that you could use these tools to your advantage. Whether it’s to get a competitive edge playing video games or just getting work done a lot faster. This article was designed for the beginner to just to get a general idea of what macros and hotkeys are and how to use them. This information should be enough for the general user. Though, if you want to learn more, there’s plenty of articles and YouTube videos on the topic.

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