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Programmable Keys

We’ve all got used to have a lot of additional buttons on our keyboards, to launch the Web browser or e-mail client, to control the sound volume, etc. Today, no keyboard comes without them, except for the cheapest models. The G15 is not an exception and I’ve already described the media player controls and the volume adjustment wheel at the beginning of the review. This may seem scanty (some other keyboards offer whole rows of additional buttons), but the G15 boasts one unique feature. It has eighteen programmable G buttons placed in three blocks on the left of the main field. You may wonder what’s so unusual about them if any keyboard’s additional buttons can be programmed to some extent. With the G15, these buttons are meant to be programmed by the user and offer very broad opportunities.

Perhaps you want a certain key to remember a sequence of keystrokes which can be anything from a shortcut used in a game or text processor to a series of HTML tags you have to frequently insert into the Web page you are editing right now.

First, you select a group by pressing on one of the three M buttons. There are three groups and each of the G buttons can store a macro. So, you’ve got a total of 53 “virtual” G buttons and the groups can be switched over with a single press. The currently selected group is highlighted with a yellow LED.

Then you press the big MR button that reacts by lighting up in blue while the LCD screen shows a tip:

So, you are asked to press a G key. Press any of the eighteen available (or press MR again if you’ve changed your mind and don’t want to record a macro). The tip changes into “Enter your keys. Push MR when done” and the MR button starts to blink. You can now press any keys and key combinations that you want the macro to store. These keystrokes are processed and executed as usual, i.e. the result becomes visible in the active program, but they are also being saved by the keyboard driver. After you’ve typed in the necessary sequence, press MR and see the text “Quick macro recorded” on the screen. From now on, the G key you have pressed before recording the macro will reproduce the entire sequence of keystrokes on each press.

So, while you have to use a separate utility to assign functions to buttons on other keyboards, the G15 allows doing it right in the application you will be using the macro in and very easily – you only press two buttons (the application won’t even notice these two presses) and enter any sequence of keystrokes that will be afterwards executed with a press of a single button.

You can change the macro using the G-series Keyboard Profiler included with the keyboard.

This program shows what macros are assigned to what buttons (if you enter a macro directly from the keyboard, it will be labeled as “Quick Macro #”, and it’s in the Profiler that you can replace this name with something more meaningful). The screenshot above shows that the M1 group by default contains four macros: one opens up the Calculator and the other three switch between the virtual desktops. The remaining buttons are yet free from assigned functions.

Click on any button with a macro and enjoy an abundance of options:

This program allows to do the following:

  • Assign Keystroke. This assigns a key combination, i.e. one or several keys pressed at once. Unlike a variable-length macro recorded with the MR button, this option allows to assign a single press of a key combination.
  • Assign Macro allows to copy a macro assigned to some button to another button
  • Repeat Options enables an automatic repetition of a macro if you press and hold its button for a while
  • Use Default and Disable resets a macro to the program’s default or disables the given button completely
  • Macro Manager gives you control over all the existing macros (I’ll talk about that below)
  • Assign Function allows to quickly select some of the standard functions
  • Assign Shortcut launches a specified application
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