Way back in the day, long before the Mac arrived on the scene in 1984, I used a DOS macro utility from Rose Soft to assign specific functions to various keys on my PC keyboard. Today, Apple provides Mac users with built-in function keys which can also be assigned specific functions. All you need is the right app.
Tops on my list of function key modifier apps is Palua, the best value. What’s nice about Palua is the option to leave your Mac’s function keys fully operational until you toggle the function key mode.
Palua gives you options to change the global hotkey, startup automatically, and assign notifications to Growl (which can then be assigned to OS X Mountain Lion’s Notification Center).
Twice the price gets FNable on your Mac, which also toggles function keys. It’s perfect for apps that use non-standard function keys.
More money gets you more functionality with SimpleKeys. This very flexible app can perform complex macros which launch apps, run AppleScripts, run Unix terminal commands, open web sites, and perform any number of utilitarian functions that you create.
For example, SimpleKeys can stack actions that you create, and run them in sequence with a simple hotkey combo. What it does not do well is insert boilerplate text into a document.
Setup and configuration is similar to the vastly more usable (and expensive) Keyboard Maestro, which is the Mac’s top keyboard macro app. Create actions and tie them to hotkeys (launch apps, launch a URL, drop in text, etc.).
Using alternate function keys or macros to perform specific tasks is a bit of an acquired taste. Macros in particular take time to set up, but can be a good way to increase your productivity over a longer period.