Automator vs Keyboard Maestro

I am an avid fan of Keyboard Maestro. I am pondering if there are situations when macOS Automator would be easier/better than Keyboard Maestro for a specific task. What are the pros/cons/use cases of one vs the other?

Anywhere you need something that is not dependent upon a third party app is probably the most obvious one.

In terms of ease of use, certainly for many people starting out in automating their Mac, there are a good number of examples of how to build simple standard Automator workflows that there simply are not examples of the equivalent for, for Keyboard Maestro. That isn’t to say they can’t be done.

Also for many starting users, Automator is like a small toolbox of tools, whereas Keyboard Maestro is more like an industrial workshop. It can be overwhelming and intimidating.

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I rarely use Automator anymore. I have a few workflows hanging around, but I can’t think of the last time I approached a new solution in Automator. KM is much more intuitive to me, maybe that’s because I am used to it. The KM support forum and wiki are fantastic. Modern solutions can usually be found by searching, and if not, the group is very responsive.

Some pros for Automator: It’s free. Folder Actions. Ability to create stand-alone apps. Watched Folders.

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And it doesn’t cost anything!

Automator has become a chore to use since I’ve been used to creating macros in Keyboard Maestro. Can’t remember the last time I’ve created something in automator.

Is there anything competitive with or similar to Keyboard Maestro or is it truly in its own class?

Hammerspoon has a reasonable overlap, but a different approach.

Likewise Keyboard Maestro overlaps with many other automation apps for expanding text, manipulating windows, calling system functions, etc. It doesn’t always offer the best option for an individual’s needs, but it often does and it is likely to be able to do what is required if the user spends the time to make it do it.

So when you say similar to, the answer would have to be both many things (in small scope) and very few things (in full scope).


Hammerspoon looks interesting (and powerful) but appears to require a much higher level of coding proficiency to use it even at a basic level.

I was just wondering if there was anything I was missing out there - Keyboard Maestro has an interesting interface in that it can be used for simple macros with no coding knowledge at all yet it approaches a full programming environment for those who develop those skills - which is quite a nice combination.

The only other thing I guess would be Hammerspoon like @sylumer points out.
I found the learning curve for that fairly steep though, where KM through the simple interface lends itself better to naturally progressing from simple entry level automation to advanced programming options.