When you’re like me, a natural time waster, you need to be as productive as possible when you are working. That’s why I have recently learned to love AutoHotkey, a free Windows download that allows you to automate repitive actions, create hotkey and scripts and at its most basic is really easy to use.
Some of AutHotkey’s key features include (their words):
- Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder.
- Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.
- Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”.
- Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse.
- Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don’t have AutoHotkey installed.
The basic idea is you create text file scripts with small coded fragments that can replace text as you write, perform simple actions or perform more complicated actions. The script needs to run once to be put into memory and then each time you need it, it’ll be there.
Let’s look at a couple of simple AutoHotkey cases:
This is a simple example of a hotkey, when I type the Windows Key + m, AutoHotkey opens my Gmail.
The # means use the Windows Key and the double colon :: is a delimiter.
Hotstrings and Autoreplace
My company has a product called Win4Lin, good product and brand, but a pain to type. With this, every time I type w4l, AutoHotkey replace it with Win4Lin, as I type. Very useful.
The string to be replaced is delimited by the double colons, followed by the repacement string.
Longer text autoreplace
Here’s how I often sign my email messages (when I’m being polite). Now when I type tx, AutoHotkey replaces it with my multi-line salutation.
When using multiple line output, enclose the actions in parenthesis.
Remapping keyboard keys
Finally, this little fragment remaps the right CtrlKey (I know, who knew the two Ctrl keys can be different?) to be Ctl Shift-P which is an awkward hotkey required by a screen clipping program that I use.
Let’s get going
As you can imagine, my examples are on the preschool to kindergarten level, so much more can be done with AutoHotkey.
Another tip, if you Google-around, you’ll find useful text files of AutoHotkey scripts that you can download and use.