Tech Tip of the Week: Time-Saving AutoHotKey Scripts

By on October 21, 2010, 5:25 AM
Many of you are probably already familiar with AutoHotKey. This small and free utility lets you automate tasks and make your PC work exactly the way you want it to. The program is driven by a custom scripting language that's easy to understand -- even for someone with little or no programming experience.

For example, you can assign a hotkey to launch any application you use regularly, or just switch to it if it is already running; assign abbreviations that expand as you type them; save time on repetitive tasks by setting the computer to auto-click a confirmation screen; or make the 'Scroll Lock' and Pause/Break keys do something useful for a change. The best part is that scripts can be compiled into an executable file and run on computers that don't have AutoHotkey installed.

Today we'll be looking at three simple time-saving scripts that can make your life easier and more productive.

Continue reading our Tech Tip of the Week.

User Comments: 8

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Cool - I love hot keys and use them constantly in Word and Excel. Thanks for the tip!

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I originally found out about AutoHotKeys when my family was in a Farmville leveling competition. (Don't ask). To me the game looked mindlessly tedious and dull, but creating a script to play for me piqued my interest. I was able to get to max level before any of them got to level 25.

I've since uninstalled the program as I'm not sure if Blizzard would ban my account if they detected it.

ViNCiLiCiouS said:

AutoHotkey is amazing. I use it for many things:

1) Push to turn (laptop) screen off.

2) Warcraft III macros (google AutoWarkey for more information- premade scripts)

3) Push to narrate input text (Mostly for fun)

4) Quicker shortcuts to different applications.

5) Auto replace text (like type "<sig>" and get "This is my signature, lalala."

6) Clicking 10,000 times in 10 seconds, or typing A-Z in 0.01 seconds (Gets alot of attention on Facebook.)

The list goes on and on. It's lightweight, insanely flexible and very fun to play around with.

Appzalien said:

I have never been a fan of hot keys, even though alot of the apps I use have the option.

I do have a keyboard though that I found when I worked for a recycling center. At one time I must have had a half dozen of them, but tossed most of them out when I moved. Now I'm sorry I did, It has a row of extra keys along the top above the F keys that can be programed to automatically spell out up to 20 characters. I use them for passwords and e-mail addresses that I use often. In one respect they are security since a key logger would see one key press that spelled out a pass. On the otherhand, if someone were to use the PC with out my knowledge, they would have access to my most often used passwords if they realized what the keys were for.

If your curious, the keyboard was made by Focus Electronics, model FK8200. I have seen them on Ebay and they ain't cheap. Mine was free, Cool Huh?

Cryptopsy said:

Pretty useful, I love it, It helps me saving so much time and effort :-) even if typing is not a big effort.

Guest said:

i m tired of having to type my name into a dialogue box every time i buy someting on the net

will this app do this? is there another means or app by which i can

auto insert my name into a dialogue box any time im bying things on the net...

Guest said:

AutoHotkey stands out because of the unique and powerful way it manipulates macros from user-defined hotkeys. But, one of the challenges that users have to face is to remember which hotkey is attached to which macro.

Descape Descape said:

Thanks for the Always on Top autohotkey. I'd been using a program for that, which was annoying, and this is much simpler.

I use a few dozen autohotkeys, and the simplest one I like is converting the back accent to a "go back" key, so not having to press Alt/back arrow to go back. I can still get a back accent but have to press the control with it to get it.

One of my favorites that I found on Lifehacker is just typing a word to get today's date, eg, tdate. I've been going down to the right hand corner of windows and squinting at that tiny date for years, and now the need to do that is gone, as well as even having to deal with typing the date.

I've experimented with very elaborate work-specific ones that extract information and insert it in forms, but I didn't write those myself, I used AutoScriptWriter which is free and used to come with AutoHotKey.

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