MarsEdit Custom Formatting Macros

I have been only using my Mac for a little while now, and one thing that I love about the Mac is MarsEdit. This is by far my favorite app when it comes to blogging. It is dead easy to setup, and you have full control on your posts and pages without needing to use the WordPress web app. You can make pages, local drafts, and of course blog posts for your site all within MarsEdit.

One thing I didn’t realize about MarsEdit until I saw it in a recent release notes page is custom macros for formatting, and that changed my blogging game for the better.

Basically this allows you to edit the key bindings on MarsEdit for a number of built in formatting shortcuts. For example, MarsEdit ships with the Paste Link shortcut being Shift+⌘+A. As someone who is used to Ulysses and the WordPress web app I changed that shortcut to be ⌘+K instead. It is second nature for me to make that my link shortcut, and I love being able to change in MarsEdit.

Not only can you change baked in formatting macros, you can also make custom formatting shortcuts. To explain, let me show you how I manage my link posts introduction.

My link posts contain a very specific format that has come to be a standard among us Apple and Tech link bloggers which is:


All of the above is then linked to the specific URL of the post in question.

To do this you first need to right click within the draft and select “Format” and then go all the way down to the bottom of the sub-list and select “Customize…”

Format 1

Once there you will see all of the formatting options that are setup, including the “Link…” and “Paste Link” options I changed the shortcuts to. But for this example we want to make a new shortcut and we are going to do so by clicking the “+” button on the bottom left.

Format List 2

From there you will see something like the image below, asking you for a title, shortcut, Opening Markup (what the format starts with) and a Closing Markup (what it ends with). What you see below might seem daunting, but I assure you it isn’t as hard as it looks. For one thing, there is a very cool tool in the where you can insert placeholders (see below).

So if you want to be prompted for text you can select “Ask for text” or if you want the URL you have in your clipboard to automatically be added, you can select “Paste URL.” In the case of this shortcut, I ask for the Author and the Publication, and with the formatting of HTML inserted within it, it takes those two inputs and the URL I have copied in my clipboard and spits out an HTML version of my link post introduction.

Custom Macro Setup Screen

The placeholders you can use for custom macros

Entering Author's Name

Entering Publication

Final Result

The best part? If you are like me and write with the WYSIWYG editor instead of the HTML editor it is automatically formatted properly. It is smart enough to know that you are writing in rich text and so it pastes it as such.

If you would like the specific code I used for my opening and closing you can copy it below.

Opening Markup:

#asktext Author:# writing for #asktext Publication#

Closing Markup:


Opening Markup from Video:

#asktext Author:# writing for #asktext Publication#

Finally, I created a quick tutorial on how to use this custom shortcut. In it I mention a very cool tool call Karabiner, which allows you to really dive into custom keyboard shortcuts. The most common one is a “hyper key” which transforms the Caps Lock key from making text all caps into a tool that effectively presses Shift+Command+Option+Control all in one go. It is great for when you want to use a custom keyboard shortcut but don’t want to worry about stepping on another keyboard shortcut’s toes. To do that, just download Karabiner and add the following rule under the “Complex Modifications” tab:

Anyway, here’s the video:

Jeff Perry @JeffPerry