If you work from home or take online classes, there’s no doubt that you have phrases that you type on a regular basis. Or maybe you have a particular file that you need to open often but not leave open. Whatever the reason, Windows Autohotkey can provide you with a quick way to perform a number of tasks.
What is Windows Autohotkey?
Windows Autohotkey is a free and open source scripting language that allows users to create scripts for Windows. Although it uses its own programming language, you don’t need to have coding skills to use the tool. It is intuitive and easy to use, especially given the large number of resources available online.
This tutorial will guide you through the basic steps involved in using Windows Autohotkey. To give you an idea of how useful this tool can be, “Windows Autohotkey” contains 18 characters, including a space. It was typed in this article with just three keystrokes. interested? Read on to find out how.
Keep in mind that this guide only covers the basics. Windows Autohotkey is a powerful tool with many applications – too many to cover in one guide. This tutorial will help you get your feet wet so you can start experimenting.
Downloading and creating your first script
Windows Autohotkey is not built into Windows OS, so you will need to download it from the website. Once downloaded, follow the on-screen instructions. If prompted to choose between ANSI and UNICODE, choose UNICODE – it has wider support for non-English characters. After installing the program, go to the desktop.
Right-click anywhere on the screen and select new > Autohotkey script. The script will appear as a file on the desktop. Give it a name so it’s easy to identify and hit Enter. After that, right-click the file and select Edit the script.
This will open an editing screen, most likely in Notepad. For example, we’ll create a script that automatically enters:
Sincerely yours, George Jetson
All you have to do is press a hotkey. First enter:
The ^ symbol means CTRLso what will you hit CTRL+J to activate this hotkey. If you don’t know why this symbol stands for CTRL, don’t worry – this guide will explain that in more detail.
Then enter this:
Send, Sincerely, George Jetson
Command on this line Send Everything after the comma will be displayed on the screen.
After that, save the script. Right click on it again and click Run the script.
When all is said and done, it should look like this:
Send, Sincerely, George Jetson
Now every time you press CTRL+j, the phrase “Regards, George Jetson” appears.
Creating a Hotstring
The above command was a hotkey. Now we’ll show you how to create a hotline or shortcut that types in a word or series of words. This is the same process used to enter “Windows Autohotkey” without actually typing.
The command is simple. Instead of a double colon (::) to the right of the hotkey, you surround the abbreviation with two colons, like this:
The text inside the colon will act as a shortcut, while the text to the right of the colon will appear as you type the command.
Hotkey symbols and their meanings
This section provides a brief explanation of the various symbols and their meanings.
|&||Use between any two keys to create a custom hotkey.|
|<||Use the left dial key (for example, the left Shift key).|
|>||Use the right dial key (for example, the right Shift key).|
|*||Wildcard (This activates the hotkey even if other keys are pressed.)|
|ABOVE||When you use this in a hotkey, it starts when you release the key.|
These are the most basic symbols. There are a few others that are more complex, but you don’t need to know them to learn the basics. You should also know that you can combine multiple symbols together to make them work; example,
With any program as powerful and versatile as Windows Autohotkey, people will find ways to maximize its potential. If you’d like to see a series of ready-made scripts that demonstrate exactly what this tool is capable of, check out the Autohotkey forum.
The forum is divided into many different sections, but the two main areas to find ready-made scripts are under Games and AutoHotkey V2 Scripts and Functions. You can copy and paste these scripts to your machine to use them.
People have created scripts that do everything from turning a joystick into a mouse to resizing a window with just the right mouse button.
Forums are a great place not only to find ready-made scripts, but also to ask for help creating your own. Once you’ve mastered the basics, explore the capabilities of Windows Autohotkey to optimize the user experience.
Windows Autohotkey is a powerful tool that goes far beyond these few basic scripts, but learning these scripts and commands is the key to learning how to use the program for yourself at a much higher level.
In addition to using Windows Autohotkey to automatically enter longer phrases, it can be used to open files, launch programs, and more. The sky’s the limit—you just have to learn to walk first.