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An action is a specially registered Python function that can be called by Talon voice commands. The code in .talon files ends up using built in or user defined actions for all its behavior. Consider this example:

my command:
text = "hello"
mangled_text = user.mangle(text)

In this case the my command voice command calls three actions: user.mangle, insert, and A few actions like insert are defined and implemented by Talon. Other actions, like, are defined by Talon but not implemented (more on this later). You can also define your own custom actions like user.mangle. Note that you can't just call arbitrary Python functions from .talon files, they need to be defined as actions first. This can be done as follows:

from talon import Module

mod = Module()

class Actions:
def find_reverse(): "Begins a reverse search."
def mangle(s: str) -> str:
"Mangles the input string in the appropriate manner."
return "__" + s

This declares the actions user.find_reverse and user.mangle (all user-defined actions are prefixed with user.). It also gives a default implementation for user.mangle that simply prepends __ to the input. As in this example, all actions must come with a docstring and type annotations for their arguments and return value.

We are also able to override the implementation of actions depending on the context in which they are used. This is useful when the same operation has different keybindings in different applications. For example, the built-in Talon action is intended to perform the "save file" operation. In most applications this is performed via ctrl-s, but in Emacs it's ctrl-x ctrl-s. Let's say we want to override the action to make it work properly in Emacs and also wanted to implement/override the two actions we declared above. This shows how you can do that:

from talon import Context, actions

# Define a context that applies when we have an Emacs window focussed
ctx = Context()
ctx.matches = "app: Emacs"

# Override a single action within the given Context.
# Note we don't have to specify type annotations or a docblock when
# overriding actions since those are inherited from the definition.
def emacs_save():
actions.key("ctrl-x ctrl-s")

# Override multiple "user." actions within the given context. The names of the class functions correspond to the actions we're overriding.
class MyEmacsActions:
def find_reverse():

def mangle(s):
if s == "other string":
return "emacs__" + s
# This will call the next most specific action implementation (in our case the
# default one specified on the module). This lets you selectively override
# existing behavior.

So now when we use the user.mangle("some string") action in a .talon file or actions.user.mangle("some string") in a .py file then we'll get "__some string" by default. However if our "app: Emacs" context matches and the argument is 'other string' then we'll get "emacs__other string".

Actions are self-documenting. A list of all defined actions can be accessed via the Talon Console with actions.list().