Last Updated: August 20, 2017
· jamesdullaghan

Keyboard Shortcuts on a Novation Launchpad

Something I've always struggled with is remembering keyboard shortcuts. I'm not sure why. Software I grew up using, they have become engrained in memory. I'll never forget the Photoshop 6 shortcuts that became etched in my young impressionable mind. But the new, unless practiced through repetition, are pointless. I also dislike using the mouse. It feels so inefficient to move from keyboard to mouse, especially being in flow.

With the bombardment of great new tools, I've been forced to abandon shortcuts in most applications. This was until my brother showed me a peice of hardware he is using to produce music.

It's called the Novation Launchpad. It retails for around $120. I saw him dissecting peices of songs and assigning them to keys with the ability to insert the sample on keypress or loop the sample, or any of the other numerous things he could potentially do with a sample.

I thought to myself, I need one of those to use with keyboard shortcuts. I envisioned Sublime text snippets with a single button press. I imagined new browser tabs with a single button press. I saw myself writing some simple applescripts and assigning them a place on my newfound shortcut grid system. But how was I going to go about dissecting this peice of hardware.

Turns out, I didn't need to. There is a peice of software named Automap Pro v3.7.4 (my brother had this version on a CD), which has been deprecated, and replaced by Automap v4. I am using v3.7.4 as I found the options I needed right away. I will tinker with the newer version as soon as I get a chance.

Instructions for OSX:
* Find a Novation Launchpad at a Guitar Center or Amazon.

  • Install the Novation Launchpad drivers (you will be prompted for a restart).

  • Install Automap Pro and launch

  • Click on devices if it doesn't load into devices and choose Launchpad

  • You can assign keyboard shortcuts to Launchpad by selecting Learn

  • Select an unassigned key

  • Holding your mouse click on the keyboard icon while simultaneously assigning the keyboard shortcut of choice.

This is where it gets interesting. I use a peice of software many of you have probably heard of called Alfred. I mainly use Alfred to assign shortcuts to launch frequently used programs, but can be used for any number of other productivity related tasks.

  • Assign a shortcut to open frequently used programs, and assign the shortcut to a Launchpad button

I've used Automator to create some tasks. I'm sure an applescript wizard would be able to create some even cooler tasks.

Some of the things I've found the Novation Launchpad useful for..

  • Sublime Text 2 snippets

  • Giving my shift keys a break/pinkie to thumb keystrokes at a minimum.

  • More relaxed web browsing (new tabs, opening specific urls by button)

Some thing I can see it being used for

  • Any task that can be automated or sequence you find yourself doing time and time again

  • Using math to remember shortcut, rather than cmd + shift + key or any of the other 100,000,000 variants. 5 * 5, 8 * 3, 2 * 5

Maybe I'm crazy, but it's helped me. It may help you, and it's pretty cool. Don't lie..!