By Jason Snell
January 27, 2021 9:07 AM PT
Control HomeKit from the keyboard with HomeControl Menu
HomeKit came late to macOS, and the Home app—imported from iOS—isn’t very good. Among its failings is a lack of presence in the menu bar, an inability to bind devices to keyboard shortcuts, and a complete lack of support for user automation to help fill in its gaps.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of utilities in the Mac App Store that address these failings. The best one I’ve found is the $3 HomeControl Menu for HomeKit by Pedro Jose Pereira Vieito.
HomeControl Menu puts a HomeKit item in your menu bar. Click and you can see all the devices, scenes, and even homes associated with your Apple ID. You can see a device’s status and quickly turn it on or off with a couple of clicks. (If you’ve got a lot of HomeKit devices, but only a few that are relevant in the context of sitting at your Mac, you can choose to hide devices in HomeControl Menu’s settings window.)
Even better, HomeControl Menu lets you assign keyboard shortcuts to devices. Now I can turn on the strip lights that ring the window in my office with a quick keypress, rather than needing to launch the Home app, click over to the right room, and click the icon representing those lights. (And that’s when the Home app works. Even the mighty Keyboard Maestro, a spectacularly good tool for automating the un-automatable, couldn’t properly navigate the app’s menus and buttons due to Home’s many bugs.)
And it gets better: HomeControl Menu also supports automation, so you can write scripts that call an iOS-style
x-callback-url format in order to control devices. (And yes, that’s accessible from AppleScript as well—you just tell HomeControl Menu to open a location, and that location is the app’s own
x-callback-url. It’s weird, but it works!)
The app still has some rough edges and missing features. You can’t sort items in the preferences window, you can’t mass-hide devices, scenes, and homes. (I’d have preferred to hide every device off and then choose a select few to display.) As a person with but a single HomeKit home, I’d prefer to have the “home” field hidden entirely.
But really, these are minor quibbles. It’s great to finally have HomeKit under my control on my Mac—from my menu bar, my keyboard, and my scripts.
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