MacOS Automation: Accessing Academic Resources

I shared an iOS Shortcut recently for opening academic journal articles via EZProxy. It’s a simple trick to short circuit the tedious cut and paste method . All it does is copy the EZproxy address 1 to the start of a url to give you access to resources via your own university library. Here are a couple of simple methods for doing the same thing using macOs automation tools.

Open Closed Access Journals with EZProxy and Keyboard Maestro

I am slowly coming to terms with some of the intricacies of macOS automation. Even so, I find Keyboard Maestro can be a little overwhelming at times. For one thing, it has a seriously misleading name, going well beyond the keyboard to hook into anything you could possibly want to do with macOs automation. The good news is you don’t have to be a coding grand master for it to be useful. This little macro is proof of that. Keyboard maestro can even simulate keystrokes, so using this method can even save you from hitting return.

macOS Automation Keyboard Maestro
Keyboard Maestro can simulate system shortcuts and keystrokes so one hotkey can do all the work

Automate EZProxy with TextExpander

Built in Macros come standard with any decent text expansion app. I’m still using TextExpander, simply because there are no alternatives on iOS. As good as it is, the fact that I have Alfred on hand means TextExpander could probably be made redundant on macOS.

To make this work with TextExpander use the builtin macros to both grab the system clipboard macro and simulate keystrokes. My snippet looks like this:

http://ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/login?url=%clipboard %key:return%

Obviously, you need to copy the URL before you type the abbreviation so you’re a keystroke ahead with the Keyboard Maestro version, if that matters to you.

macOS Automation
TextExpander's builtin macros can add the system clipboardd to a snippet, simulate keystrokes, and more

Other Options

I already mentioned Alfred, which is easily as powerful as Keyboard Maestro. This would be a trivial problem to solve with Alfred, either by creating a workflow, or by using Alfred’s text expansion utility.

Another option is to use a clipboard manager. With Copied, for example, you can setup templates to transform the text you copy, and activate them with hotkeys. Similar functionality can be found in Pastebot. 2

  1. Most university libraries, and some public libraries have an EZProxy address, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one you can access.
  2. Unfortunately, neither app has been updated in a while, so I can’t vouch for their longevity. Copied is still working perfectly for me on macOS Mojave