Surprising AutoHotkey Hotstrings

We Tend to Take for Granted the Basic AutoHotkey Hotstring Without Investigating Its Full Potential

One of the first things a beginner learns about AutoHotkey is its easy implementation of Hotstrings—the simple technique for adding text replacement and text expansion to any AutoHotkey script. It’s used primarily for AutoCorrect apps, but is largely overlooked for more involved scripts. In most of my previous books, I was sure to include something about Hotstrings, but it was never my chief focus.

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New to AutoHotkey? See “Introduction to AutoHotkey: A Review and Guide for Beginners.”

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Last September, my plan was to write a few beginning blogs about how to use Hotstring options (symbols between the first two colons, :B0?:). At first, I thought the series would consist of merely a couple of columns highlighting how to use those options. However, as I worked on each article more possibilities came to light. Imagine my surprise as this unexplored territory of the AutoHotkey world opened up to me. Each step in the series sparked more ideas.

What I envisioned as a glimpse into a few simple AutoHotkey features, turned into Hotstring enlightenment. By the time I reached the 12th and 13th part in the series—which address the enigmatic Input command—I knew I had to turn the articles into an e-book for people who wanted it all in one place. I dug through my past unpublished Hotstring pieces and integrated them into 17 chapters of practical ways to use AutoHotkey Hotstrings.

The primary focus of AutoHotkey Hotstrings is text replacement and text expansion, although almost anything that can be done with Hotkeys can be done with “action” Hotstrings. The beauty of AutoHotkey Hotstrings is that virtually anyone can learn how to use them with little or no programming background. The basic Hotstring script contains only one line of code standing on its own. The most popular use of Hotstrings is a series of these one-liners making up AutoHotkey text AutoCorrect apps—which work in any Windows text editing or input field—whether in a word processing program or Web page.

Avid AutoHotkey Hotstring users are a subset of the larger AutoHotkey community. Certainly most people include at least a few Hotstrings in their scripts, but it’s the wordsmiths massaging and manipulating written text who have the most to gain. That’s a pretty broad slice of the world.

When I envision AutoHotkey Hotstring users, I immediately think of writers and students . They are the people who will obviously benefit the most from these scripts. Yet, as I worked through the various Hotstring tricks, I realized that there were many people in other occupations (doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc.) who could profit from these implementations of text replacement and text expansion.

While I offered examples of acronym expansion, date insertion (in various formats), Hotstring menus, and GUI (Graphical User Interface) pop-up windows, I envisioned language translation and interpretation aids, job specific jargon menus, and much more as future possible apps. In fact, the practical AutoHotkey applications are only limited by the script writer’s vision.

Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings 200pxAs a convenience for people who don’t want to dig through the Web, I have now published the e-book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings which is available on the ComputorEdge E-Books site and  through Amazon. Regardless of whether you’re interested in the book or not, it’s worth your time to peruse some of the blogs linked at “Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstring Techniques” found under the “AutoHotkey Topics and Series” tab in the top menu bar. They just might inspire your next AutoHotkey script.

Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings includes:

Chapter One: AutoHotkey Hotstrings for AutoCorrect, Text Insertion, and Text Expansion

Chapter Two: Add AutoCorrect to All Your Windows PC Programs with AutoHotkey

Chapter Three: Beginning Tips for AutoHotkey Hotstring Text Correction and Text Expansion (Hotstring Options * and ?)

Chapter Four: Beginning Tips for AutoHotkey Hotstring Text Correction and Text Expansion (Hotstring Options B0, C and O)

Chapter Five: Adding Action to AutoHotKey HotStrings, Plus a Trick for Creating IF Conditional Hotstring Text Replacements

Chapter Six: A Beginner’s Trick for Inserting Next Friday’s Date and an Important Tip for Any AutoHotkey User

Chapter Seven: Turning a Simple Date Trick into an Easy AutoHotkey Function

Chapter Eight: Make Your Own Text AutoCorrect Hotstring Pop-up Menus with AutoHotkey

Chapter Nine: How to Turn AutoHotkey Hotstring AutoCorrect Pop-up Menus into a Function

Chapter Ten: Add Currency (and Other) Symbols with AutoHotkey Hotstring Menus

Chapter Eleven: Replacing Overused Words with Pop-up Synonym Menus

Chapter Twelve: More Pop-up Synonym Menu Tips for AutoHotkey Hotstrings

Chapter Thirteen: Instantly Add Dates to Your Documents in Different Formats with Hotstring Menus

Chapter Fourteen: Inserting Future (or Past) Dates and Times with AutoHotkey GUIs and Hotstring Menus

Chapter Fifteen: Inserting Future (or Past) Dates and Times with AutoHotkey GUIs and Hotstring Menus (continued)

Chapter Sixteen: Create Instant Temporary AutoHotkey Hotstrings with the Input Command

Chapter Seventeen: Reduce Code and Increase Power with the AutoHotkey Input Command

These topics include adding menus and pop-up windows to your AutoHotkey Hotstrings, plus how to write functions to shorten your scripts. The last two chapters even explore the little known, yet powerful Input command.

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