What are Macro Keys in Gaming? How Useful are Macros?

If you have played many games, you already know about games with different combinations of buttons to use an ability or an ultimate attack. 

Sometimes these combos can be hard to execute, or maybe you are in a critical position and the time delay causes your character to die. This is where macros are helpful in games.

Most of the gamers are familiar with the latest gaming keyboards and mice with support for macros. They know what macros are and what they are for. But for those who don’t know, I’ll explain in a few simple words.

What is a Macro?

A macro is a way of creating a faster, easier shortcut that lets you perform an otherwise multiple-step process in just one step. They’re most often created to speed up and simplify the execution of repetitive tasks.

Some applications like Microsoft Office have excellent built-in support for macros allowing you to create your own shortcuts to execute complicated pre-scripted strings of commands.

But most of the programs you use, including games, have no or very limited inherent macro support. So, this is where fancy peripherals with macros come in.

While some allow macros to be recorded directly on the device, most use their own custom software to create multi-step commands and save them to a small built-in memory chip on the device to be executed with a single button press.

This allows the user more flexibility to customize their macros. This seems pretty simple, right?

For example, you can store a long-phrase or a cat picture and send it by pressing a single button. So, you ask me how it helps in gaming?

How Useful are Macros in Gaming?

The most important aspect of using the macro is to prevent the time delay due to pressing multiple buttons to achieve the same goal that the macro button will do in a single click. 

You can set a combination of different keystrokes to one single button. This is very useful in fighting and RPG games. Using your ultimate attack with a single button or click will save you much-needed time.

Gaming Keyboard with Macro Keys

Is it cheating to use keyboard macros in games?

Most games don’t consider using macros as cheats, even though they can give you an advantage mainly because it’s challenging for an anti-cheat to properly determine whether you used a micro or not.

It mainly depends on a per-game basis. For example, in CS:GO, macros are fine for throwing grenades or buy binds, but a bhop script can get you banned in Overwatch (though if someone reports you manually).

When Insurgency Sandstorm was first released, many people were using a macro to fire pistols. The funny thing is that it was faster than an automatic rifle. But I don’t think anyone got banned due to this. So, it varies from game to game.

However, Path Of Exile doesn’t allow the use of macros, and the punishments include disconnecting you for performing too many actions to permanent account ban. So, It’s kind of a grey area, and you should check with each game before using too many keystrokes for a macro button.

How To Safely Use Macro Keys in Games

You can use macro keys in single-player offline games however you want, but when playing online PvP games, you should check with each game because every game has its own set of rules. Some games will allow macro keys, but some games won’t allow heavy usage of macro keys.

Macro keys can give you an advantage over other players in online games. Every game allows you to change controls but setting a series of keystrokes to a macro key may cause a ban.

For example, you can program the shooting button to be something else from the left click, but you won’t be allowed to program your left click with shoot plus dodge. This way, you can shoot and dodge simultaneously, giving you an edge over other players.

So, as I said before, you need to check each game before setting up any macro keys to avoid any inconvenience.

Although macro keys can give you a slight advantage, they are no guarantee to climb you to the top of the leaderboard. 

How Do You Set Macro Keys?

Most of the renowned brands have their own software for their gaming peripherals. You can use the official software to set up macro keys.

For a general idea of how to set macro keys, you can watch the video below. There are different software with all the different brands. They might be a little bit different, but you will get an idea.

For better results, I would highly recommend you purchase a gaming keyboard with dedicated macro keys. For this purpose, I have made a list of the best gaming keyboards with macro keys.

What are Hotkeys & How They are Different from Macros?

Hotkeys are one step behind the Macros. It means that you can use a hotkey to open a specific file or play a particular video, but you can do a series of tasks with macros. For example, you can use a macro to split a video and then remove the extra part with one click.

Hotkeys are simple and require no extra hardware or software to use. They are built-in and programmed into almost every program. Your windows also have a bunch of shortcut keys (link to CNET).

Setting up Hotkeys

Setting hotkeys on your keyboard is quite easy. You can find hotkeys in the settings of any program. They are also called keyboard shortcuts, depending on each program.

Most of the time, hotkeys are already programmed, but you can click on them to change to whatever you want. These settings are helpful because each program can have a different keyboard shortcut for a similar task, and you can change that to your liking.

Most of the time, games have similar controls, but some games can have slightly different hotkeys for performing different actions. For example, one game can use F to throw a grenade, and the other game uses G for throwing a grenade.

You can go into the control settings in the game and change it to whatever hotkey you are used to.

Conclusion

You can only type as fast as your fingers can move, but a CPU can accept or process the same task in a very short time with no delay. It can easily accept that entire sentence or a sequence of keystrokes in a game within no time.

In a game, it might be beneficial to create a macro that uses special powers or activate a lightning-resistant shield and then casts a Firefly swarm or something like that. This would be a great thing to be able to control.

There can be a delay in each keystroke, but macros also support playing back with the same delay with which they were recorded. You can manually set a fixed delay or remove all delays. 

While this feature is most often present on products targeted at gamers, there are plenty of legitimate uses for reprogrammable keys that support macros outside of games as well.

When the Logitech G15 keyboard first launched with its impressive 18 programmable G keys, it was a gamer and a productivity enthusiast’s dream come true, and both of those groups of people were flocking to buy it.

So if you’ve got a gaming keyboard or mouse, there’s a good chance that using the software included with the peripheral will unlock this functionality for you. Once you get the hang of using macros, they’re fast, easy to create, and very useful.

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