Python is one of the most suitable languages for automating tasks. Whether it's repeatable (ethical) web scraping after some time period, starting some programs on a computer start up, or automating sending mundane e-mails, Python has a lot of modules that make your life easier.
One of these is a module called
keyboard, and it takes full control of your keyboard. With this module, you can type out anything, create hot-keys, create abbreviations, block the keyboard, wait for input, etc.
In this guide, we'll take a look at how to set up and use the
keyboardmodule in Python.
Note: Applications working with automating human-like processes should be developed ethically and responsibly. The
keyboardmodule is made to be very observable, and thus makes it both discouraged and transparent if anyone's using it to create keyloggers or malicious bots.
<h3 id="installingthekeyboardmodule">Installing the <em>keyboard</em> Module</h3>
Note: The version of Python used in this guide is 3.8. However, the
keyboardmodule can work with both Python 2.x and Python 3.x.
If you're using Linnux, in order to use this library, you must install it as
root. If you don't, you'll get an:
ImportError: You must be root to use this library on linux.
Also, when running your script, you should run it with root privileges:
$ sudo pip3 install keyboard $ sudo python3 my_script.py
On Windows and MacOS, as the privileges work much differently - you can install it simply via
pip and run the scripts:
$ pip install keyboard $ python my_script.py
Note: For MacOS, you might have to allow the Terminal or other apps to change the state of your machine, such as by typing. Also keep in mind that as of September 2021, the library is still experimental on MacOS.
The keyboard Module's Functions
There are a lot of functions in this module that can be used to simulate keyboard actions.
keyboard.write(message, [delay])- writes a message, with or without a delay.
keyboard.wait(key)- blocks the program until the
keyis pressed. The
keyis passed as a string ('space', 'esc', etc.)
keyboard.press(key)- presses a key and holds until the
release(key)function is called.
keyboard.release(key)- releases a key.
keyboard.send(key)- presses and releases a key.
keyboard.add_hotkey(hotkey, function)- creates a
hotkeywhich when pressed, executes a
keyboard.record(key)- records keyboard activity until
keyboard.play(recorded_events, [speed_factor])- replays events recorded with
keyboard.record(key)function, with an optional
We'll go through all of these, though, here's a quick example:
>>> import keyboard >>> keyboard.write("Hello") >>> Hello
Hello message appears on the screen, in the terminal, as if you've written it. You can automate a command very easily, and create a hotkey alias for it. Here's a (crude) example of exiting the Python REPL, writing a
curl commmand and executing it:
>>> import keyboard >>> keyboard.write("exit()"); keyboard.send("enter"); keyboard.write("curl https://www.google.com"); keyboard.send("enter"); >>> exit() curl https://www.google.com $ curl https://www.google.com
keyboard's write() and wait() Functions
write() command writes a message, as we've seen before, with an optional delay in the start. If no delay is set, writing is instant. It's very nicely combined with the
wait() function, which awaits a certain key to be pressed.
For instance, we can create a make-shift macro, tied to, say
1, which responds to that input with a new message. Note that there's an actual way to create hotkeys instead of this, which we'll cover later.
We'll create an infinite
True loop to check for the key being pressed, and you can run the script in the background:
import keyboard while True: keyboard.wait("1") keyboard.write("\n The key '1' was pressed!")
Note: Special characters are not supported by this function, so if you add, say,
! - you'll get hit with a
keyboard's press(), release() Functions
Since it's hard to simulate
release() so that the actions are visible, we'll also see
play() in action.
press() function presses a key and releases it when you call
release() on the same key. Note that you can't
sleep() for some time to simulate holding down a key:
>>> import keyboard >>> from time import sleep >>> keyboard.press("a") >>> sleep(1) >>> keyboard.release("a") >>> a
However, you can hold down some special keys, such as [SHIFT] or [CTRL] this way:
>>> keyboard.press("shift") >>> keyboard.write("lowercase") >>> keyboard.release("shift") >>> LOWERCASE
keyboard's record() and play() Functions
It's not always about inputting new keys in - sometimes, you'd like to record what's going on and play it back. Keep in mind that you'll need administrator privileges to record any input like this, as the technology can easily be used to create key loggers.
record() function accepts a trigger key, until which it records, and returns a sequence of events of type
KeyboardEvent. You can then chuck this sequence of events into the
play() function, which faithfully replays them, with an optional
speed_factor argument that acts as a multiplier for the speed of the original events:
import keyboard recorded_events = keyboard.record("esc") keyboard.play(recorded_events)
If we're to print the
recorded_events, they'd look something like:
KeyboardEvent(w up), KeyboardEvent(o down), ...]
The effects of these methods are best seen as a gif or recreated on your machine. For instance, a sequence of writing a message, deleting it and writing a different one instead:
keyboard's send() function
send() function encompasses
release() together, and is used for single keys, unlike
write() which is used for entire sentences:
import keyboard recorded_events = keyboard.record("s") keyboard.send("w") keyboard.send("a") keyboard.play(recorded_events)
s is pressed, the
a keys are replayed.
press() function can also accept combinations of pressed keys. You can send a combination of
"ctrl+shift+s" for instance and the dialogue for saving a file should pop up, if you're in an application that supports that operation:
import keyboard while True: keyboard.wait("s") keyboard.press("ctrl+shift+s") # Or for MacOS keyboard.press("command+shift+s)
Though, this isn't the right way to add hotkeys. Rather, you can use the
keyboard's add_abbreviation() Function
add_abbreviation() function is a pretty nifty one, as it allows you to define abbreviations for long inputs, and replaces the abbreviated versions with the saved full versions.
For instance, similar to how services like Google save your email for most input forms, you can create your own abbreviation and trigger it via
>>> import keyboard >>> keyboard.add_abbreviation("@", "[email protected]")
While running, if you type
@ followed by a
[SPACE] - the long-form input will replace the typed
keyboard's add_hotkey() Function
add_hotkey() function accepts a hotkey you'd like to save, or a combination of keys, and a function. It's easy to pass in anonymous lambda functions here, though you can also add named functions.
For instance, let's add a hotkey for
CTRL+j, which triggers a lambda function that logs this:
import keyboard keyboard.add_hotkey("ctrl+alt+j", lambda: print("ctrl+alt+j was pressed"))
ctrl+alt+p, is saved and when you press this combination, you should see the output of the lambda.
keyboard module is a lightweight and simple library used for simulating keystrokes and simple automation in Python. It's not very feature-rich, but can be used to automate some of the tasks you might be performing in your day-to-day work, or simply for a bit of fun.
A more mature, powerful module that can be used as an alternative is pynput.