What are Macro Keys and How to Use Them for Gaming

Gamers can practice for thousands of hours to hone their skills. But there comes a time when they hit a ceiling and cannot grow any further. Even having the top-of-the-line peripherals, including a mouse, audio setup, and a keyboard, is not helping, but there is still room for improvement. When we add automation to the mix, we can achieve that gaming potential.

This is where macro keys come into play. They take care of repetitive actions, allowing users to focus on other aspects of the game. They can be programmed through software and assigned to special extra keys available on a few keyboards. 

Others can get macros by assigning them to the standard keys. Let us take a closer look at macro keys and how to make use of them.

What are macro keys? 

Every keyboard and mouse has a set of buttons to perform specific actions. The user presses a key, and a specific activity happens, as predefined by the operating system. An application or a game has different actions tied to the keys. That’s just a single action performed using the keys.

When a macro key is pressed, a series of scripted actions are performed in a game, application, or operating system. There are fundamentally two kinds of macro keys: hardware and software. A hardware-based macro requires physical keys on the keyboard to trigger a sequence of actions on the computer. 

On the contrary, software macro keys work through special applications which run scripts in the background. Operating systems always provide basic macro actions for various programs and standard functions. Bear in mind that macros are not encouraged in a few professional gaming tournaments, so make sure to ask the organisers before applying them.

Types of keyboard macros

Keyboard macros come in different forms and variety. Some of them include the following: 

1. Dedicated macro keys

These fall in the hardware section of macro keys. Many high-end gaming and office keyboards come with dedicated macro keys. Press a key, and a single action, or a sequence of actions, happens.
The keyboards are accompanied by software that helps in programming the macro keys with specific actions. They can be configured based on the games played through different macro profiles. 

2. Game-specific macros

Most keyboard software can detect different games installed on the computer. For instance, the Logitech® G Hub™ detects the games and creates individual profiles for RGB, DPI, and macros.
You can assign different actions for a specific macro key to perform in a game. Install a new title, and the software will automatically detect it. The macro's profiles are automatically switched with the active window of the game, so users don’t have to worry about mixing up the configurations. 


3. Custom macros

Some keyboards don’t ship with a software suite to program the macro keys. That is a small speed bump rather than a roadblock, as Windows offers a method to assign the keys.  Along with that, a couple of good third-party macro recorders can create long sequences. A step further is AutoHotkey, a scripting language for Windows that is used for creating macro and hotkey scripts. 


How do macros help in gaming?

Macros help gamers simplify the chaotic control requirements by reducing sequences to the push of a button. It simplifies the input as a single button can perform a sequence of actions. They can be used for doing regular, mundane, or complex tasks without requiring repetitive keystrokes. Repeat any action by pressing the programmed macro key. 

They are particularly beneficial in games such as TEKKEN 7, Street Fighter V, Shadow Fight, etc., where different combos can be performed by pressing a single macro key on the keyboard, subduing the opponent. 

How to program macros

Macros can be programmed through three different methods. The keyboard manufacturer offers software for assigning macros. For equipment without the official software, there is a third-party application that works on all equipment. Here is how both options are configured. 

Using official software for the keyboard

Logitech

  1. Launch Logitech G Hub software and select the keyboard.

  2. Head to the Assignments section and click on the macros button. 

  3. Click on the create new macro button and then select the nature of the macro. It can be a sequence, repeated while holding, and toggle.

  4. Next, click on Start Now and select Record Keystrokes. Get inside the game and start performing the action that needs to be automated. Every keystroke will be recorded with a delay of 50ms. 

  5. Press the red stop button to finish recording the macro. Switch back to the software window and click on the save button to store the macro profile. 

  6. Assign a key to the macro by dragging it over the keyboard replica in the software. 

Razer

  1. Launch Razer® Synapse™ and head to the Macro section. 

  2. Click on the “+” sign to create a new macro list.

  3. Afterward, click on record and open the insert dropdown menu on the right. Select keystrokes and select the duration of the recording from the right bar. 

  4. Head to the game and start performing the action for recording. The macro will automatically be saved.

HyperX

  1. Launch NGenuity™ and choose a gaming profile.

  2. Click the customise button at the bottom and head to the macros.

  3. Go to the macros library, click on the “+,” and press the record button.

  4. Start playing the game and performing an action to automate through the macro key. Switch to the NGenuity window and click stop to finish the sequence.

Third-party software for Macro keys

TGM Macro

  1. Launch TGM Macro and select key events in trigger actions by menu.

  2. Assign a key for the macro to execute in the keys section.

  3. Head to the game and press Ctrl + F10 on the keyboard to record the actions. Perform the actions and press the shortcut key again to stop the recording.

  4. Go back to the macro editor window and click on the save button to store the recording. The saved macros can be enabled from TGM Macro’s main menu.

Best keyboards with macros

Mechanical keyboards offer macros via physical keys or software, generally offered by the manufacturer. HP® and its sub-brands provide a wide range that can fulfil all your automation needs. 

1. Omen by HP Sequencers

OMEN by HP Sequencer KeyboardOMEN by HP Sequencer Keyboard

Engineered and designed for gamers, Omen by HP Sequencers means serious gaming. The 0.2ms response time means there is zero input lag. Make those intense strafing movements in FPS (First Person Shooter) games easily and gain an advantage over your opponents. We get five physical macro keys marked P1 to P5, to the left of the cap locks key.

The keyboard layout stays the same, providing familiarity, while the extra keys are closer to the WASD keys, ideal for gamers. The fully customizable RGB keys can be programmed through the software. The braided cables ensure durability and can withstand rough usage.

2. HyperX Alloy Origins Core

HyperX Alloy Origins CoreHyperX Alloy Origins Core

HyperX Alloy Origins Core brings tenkeyless to the table, without the number pad, a popular keyboard form factor amongst gamers. The HX Red switches, similar to red, with a lifespan of over 80 million keystrokes, give gamers a reliable companion for the competitive scene. 

The NGenuity app helps users program macros to different keys through the macros library. The full-body aluminium adds to the finish and offers stability in every condition. Remove the USB type-C when travelling and keep it portable. Create three different RGB lighting profiles and use them through the onboard memory.

3. HP BL GK320

HP BL GK320 HP Black Gaming M KeyboardsHP BL GK320 HP Black Gaming M Keyboards

The HP BL GK320 is a gaming mechanical keyboard for budget gamers. The soldered KRGO Danish blue switches deliver speed on every stroke. Double-injection printing delivers clearer and long-lasting keycap prints. Top it with the triple-layer surface with the matte finish for a luxurious feel. 

Program the macros through a third-party app such as TGMMacro or AutoHotKeys. Use them in gaming, streaming, or even in office work, where they come in handy for word processing, especially in spreadsheets. The row-wise RGBs are addressable through the included software, available on the HP website.

4. HP K100 

HP Gaming Keyboard K100HP Gaming Keyboard K100

Looking further down the line, the HP K100 is an entry-level gaming keyboard. It features membrane switches with blue caps. And the back panel is a metal unibody, offering a sturdy base on all flat surfaces. Keycaps can be removed for cleaning and also be replaced if required. 

The keyboard features four LED indicators, along with the backlit RGBs. Nine different function keys control the lights without requiring software. Keys are placed in an arch design for a more comfortable experience. Take advantage of the Windows™ lock key; it comes in handy for instantly locking the computer. 

5. HP BL GK600YS

HP BL GK600YS HP Black Gaming M KeyboardsHP BL GK600YS HP Black Gaming M Keyboards

Go back in time with the retro look of the HP BL GK600YS, sporting a scratch-resistant aluminium finish front panel. They house the KRGD Blue switches with high-pitched feedback, similar to Cherry MX and Outemu. The keys have a round shape giving a type-writer feel.

The auto-sleep feature on the keyboard helps save power and elongate life by switching off the equipment when not in use. Press any key to wake up the board. Set macros through a third-party app, as the manufacturer does not offer software for the keyboard. 


Summary

Macros are a powerful tool to gain an advantage in gaming. They can also come in handy for studies and professional work. Most keyboards will not have dedicated keys apart from the standard set. However, the software can record and assign macros to any keys. 

Keep your macro recordings backed up when gaming from a cafe or a friend’s place. They often get misplaced when reinstalling macro apps or operating systems, or when moving files around.