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Why does Macro Express lock up the keyboard??


margaret
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I wrote a macro for a friend. The macro is supposed to copy the current selection in Adobe Reader, paste it into a Word document, type a tab and a return and then return to Acrobat. (There are four variations of the macro with some slight differences--and not all of them return to Reader. Some just stop after copying into Word so that the user can type in other things.) I set the macros up and tested them thoroughly on my system in the trial version of Macro Express. I got the macros running on my friend's system, but some odd problems ensued. I think it has something to do with the keyboard shortcuts. What would happen is: Suddenly Alt-Tab would no longer work, and I could no longer type into dialog boxes or into Word. The system was acting as if the Control key was always being held down; I couldn't select one thing at a time with the mouse. If I closed Word and tried to restart it, I'd get a message something like "Word has detected that the Control key is being held down. Start in safe mode?" Restarting the system would fix the problem, until I ran my macros again. Sometimes they would work the first time; it seemed somewhat unpredictable, but eventually the same thing would happen. I googled "Alt+Tab not working" and found discussions about Alt+Tab not working in certain situations where PowerToys was installed, but my friend doesn't have PowerToys installed as far as I could tell. AND we also tried changing all the keyboard shortcuts to shortkeys, in order not to use control-type keys, but we couldn't get the shortkeys to work at all, so we don't know if they would have produced the same problem.

The only thing I can think of that would produce that keyboard-locking (for lack of a more accurate term) result is an accessibility setting called StickyKeys. But how could the keyboard shortcut BOTH trigger the macro and trigger StickyKeys?

Another thing that may or may not be related is that sometimes Macro Express would act as if I had two macros open for editing, but I could only see one. And sometimes after I edited a macro, it seemed as if the older version was still running.

The keyboard shortcut that DIDN'T seem to cause the keyboard-locking problem was Ctrl+F12, so in the end I assigned the simplest macro to Ctrl+F12 so my friend would have something. Others we had tried included Ctrl+G, Ctrl+E, Ctrl+Z, and Ctrl+F11. A few others didn't work at all but obviously because some other definition, I think in Windows, was taking precedence. Yet Macro Express always told me that the keyboard shortcuts were "not in use." (I guess that just means "not in use in Macro Express"--regardless of whether they currently do something else in Windows or the application.)

Meanwhile, none of the keyboard shortcuts lock up MY keyboard. My friend's system is very similar to mine, we both have Windows XP SP2 and Office 2003 (they were even built by the same local builder), but I have way more programs installed than she does.

 

In short, why does the keyboard lock up, and can I prevent that?

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I'll just make a few wild guesses.

 

Do you maybe have a CTRLD in your macro without a corresponding CTRLU?

 

Are you dealing with a significant amount of text? If so it might make a difference whether you copy and PASTE, as opposed to copying and TYPING back a large amount of text, where the keyboard buffer might be overflowed and cause problems. Take a look at the Wait for Text Playback command in ME, also the Keystroke Speed command. Also look at Clipboard Type Text, which makes the distinction between typing and pasting which isn't so obvious on the other Clipboard commands.

 

As to two macros open for editing at one time -- if you are alt-tabbing and you see two big "M" icons, it may mean one M is the ME editor and the other is a macro that is still running, though I have noticed this only when the running macro has a text box open.

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I'll just make a few wild guesses.

 

Do you maybe have a CTRLD in your macro without a corresponding CTRLU?

 

Are you dealing with a significant amount of text? If so it might make a difference whether you copy and PASTE, as opposed to copying and TYPING back a large amount of text, where the keyboard buffer might be overflowed and cause problems. Take a look at the Wait for Text Playback command in ME, also the Keystroke Speed command. Also look at Clipboard Type Text, which makes the distinction between typing and pasting which isn't so obvious on the other Clipboard commands.

 

Well, at the end of the macro, I used a Word shortcut of Ctrl+D, which moves down to the beginning of the next paragraph; but I think you're talking about a separate Control Key Down step, right? I could try a different method. I wasn't using separate key down/ key up steps. (Trying to think whether the problem start after I added the Ctrl+D -- it was so confusing at first that I'm not sure, but it's possible.)

 

I'm only dealing with a few words at a time, mostly names of people, places, and organizations, and I'm using copy and paste.

 

Also, I have concluded that the reason the shortkeys won't work is that in that application (Adobe Reader) you can't type, at least not in that situation -- you can select and copy text with mouse or keyboard but you can't type anything into the document. I think the shortkeys only work where you can type into the application, or else there wouldn't be the setting about whether the shortkey characters remain typed into the document, right? I tried some shortkeys in Word and they worked fine. So I suspect the shortkey method would just never work in Reader.

 

Is there a way to set a preference in Macro Express so that it won't start another instance of itself? I looked around but didn't come across anything.

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Is there a way to set a preference in Macro Express so that it won't start another instance of itself? I looked around but didn't come across anything.

Macro Express is not supposed to ever allow a second instance to load. If that is happening there is a problem. You should contact support for help correcting that issue.

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Sorry, I'm out of ideas. I have seen the manual Alt-Tab sequence and the Tab stop working, once, after running some macros. I never did get to the bottom of it, and was not able to reproduce it, but now I'm wondering if it could have been a persistent CTRLD where for some reason the CTRLU didn't happen.

 

FWIW, I always use separate CTRLD and CTRLU entries, same for SHIFTD and SHIFTU, and ALTD and ALTU. I'm not sure whether that is always necessary, but at least you know what you are going to get -- some combinations like CTRL-a (to highlight all) seem to work, but others like Alt-Tab-Tab (to tab among windows) give significantly different results compared to ALTD-Tab-Tab-ALTU.

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