by Barry Dysert
(last updated December 19, 2016)
AutoHotKeys is more like a system than a single-purpose utility. It allows you to do almost anything you can imagine. The reason it's so powerful is because it uses a unified scripting language. Don't be put off by this if you're not a programmer, though. There are a lot of pre-written scripts available that you can use. (For instance, I downloaded a script called "AutoCorrect", which automatically corrects misspelled words anywhere I type them.)
In addition, writing your own scripts to perform small tasks is quite simple. For instance, a script I have that automatically toggles between minimizing and normalizing a SQL Server window only takes one line. I mostly use AutoHotKeys to define my Windows shortcut keys, and these can be defined in just a few lines. Using this utility, for example, I created a shortcut key (Ctrl+Alt+E) to launch Microsoft Excel by using these three lines:
^!e:: Run "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE" Return
Another shortcut I created allows me to type just a few characters, and AutoHotKeys immediately expands what I typed into a long SQL statement. Another shortcut holds my e-mail address.
AutoHotKey scripts are normal ASCII files that can be edited with something like Notepad. They all have an ".ahk" extension. The default script lives in your Documents folder, is named "AutoHotkey.ahk", and by default is run when you log in—so all your hot keys are available to you immediately. You can have as many .ahk files as you like, and you can run as many as you like.
I have just scratched the surface of what all can be done by using AutoHotKeys. I recommend that you download a copy and see if it would be useful to you.
AutoHotKeys is a free download and can be retrieved from this site:
This tip (12987) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.
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