Global Hotkeys using the Hyper Key

My Alfred Workflow that holds my global hotkeys to open applications, also showing the hyper key setup via Karabiner-Elements.

My keyboard sees a lot of use, and where possible I try not to reach for the mouse/trackpad. I find I can work more efficiently by keeping my hands on the keyboard, which is a great thing as a developer.

My primary usage of the hyper key is to open/hide applications with global hotkeys. The hyper key is great because no application expects you to hold all modifier keys at the same time, which sets it up perfectly for a global hotkey.


This does require a bit of setup to make it work, but the payoff is pretty nice as you’ll be saving keystrokes and/or mouse/trackpad movements.

This is tailored to a MacOS system…although I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find alternatives for a Linux or Windows environment.

The Hyper Key

A Hyper Key is a magical key that automatically presses all the standard modifiers (ctrl+shift+cmd+opt).

BetterTouchTool’s documentation on the hyper key

I first heard about the hyper key from an article Steve Losh wrote which touched on the subject. This inspired me to look at how I could use this new modifier key.

I personally use Karabiner-Elements to enable a hyper key, but any of the following should do the trick.

Global Hotkeys in Alfred

I use Alfred extensively. I made a new workflow that has multiple hotkey triggers that use the hyper key in combination with a single character. This allows the hotkey triggers to perform an action.

The one thing that you need to do is ensure that the trigger’s behaviour is set to “Pass through modifier keys (Fastest)” (as illustrated in the following image), otherwise, there will be a slight delay in the action being performed.

Alfred trigger config

I have several combinations which open/hide various applications:

Global Hotkeys in other Applications

Hyper key shortcuts work well to access other applications in a global context. I even use them to open the quick add modal for GoodTask via hyper + '. Another example of where I use it is with Hammerspoon via hyper + \ to open anycomplete to help with spelling complicated words.

When you have the hyper key, anything can be globally reachable via a simple key combination!