More Windows Program Automation with the WinMenuSelectItem Command…Maybe (AutoHotkey Tip)

A while back I wrote a series of articles on using AutoHotkey for Windows program automation. They appeared in the old ComputorEdge Magazine. I used Windows 10 Paint as the example program demonstrating a number of approaches to program control. I temporarily put the articles in a makeshift PDF for artists and intend to include them in a future book—along with a couple of other unpublished Windows program automation articles.  I extracted some of those columns from the original ComputorEdge issues and combined them into one free PDF download: AutoHotkey for Artist.pdf. The links may be obsolete, but the info is still good!

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The Main Window for Debugging AutoHotkey Scripts

How to View the Inner Workings and Hidden Mechanisms of Running AutoHotkey Scripts

AutoHotkey includes a tool called the Main Window which aids with the debugging process. It gives you a peek into various aspects of a running .ahk script:

  1. Most recently executed lines of code (ListLines command).
  2. Current variables and values (ListVars command).
  3. Active Hotkeys (ListHotkeys command).
  4. Keyboard activity (KeyHistory command).

Main Window Menu

Open the Main Window by right-clicking on Windows System Tray icon of an active .ahk script and selecting Open from the top of the menu. The window pops open at the “Lines most recently executed” view. You can select the other three views plus “Refresh” from the View menu. Continue reading

More E-Book Bundles for Beginning and Intermediate AutoHotkey Users

New E-Book Bundles for Making Your Journey into AutoHotkey Scripting Easier

JacksLibraryBookDeal250Every programmer suffers moments where he or she achieves a breakthrough and the code actually works. Their first impulse—tell someone…anyone. “Look what I just did!” Alas, they find no one nearby to praise the accomplishment. At least, no one who either understands or cares about their success. Maybe that’s why I write about my AutoHotkey journeys. I need to tell someone when (ironically?) some code I wrote does what it’s supposed to do. Continue reading

Using the Raw Option—Plus a Secret Hotstring Trick (AutoHotkey Tip)

Both Hotkey Modifiers and Special Characters Might Disappear When Used in Regular Text. Usually, You’ll Find the Raw Mode the Easiest Solution for Vanishing Characters. Plus, a Secret AutoHotkey Hotstring Trick!

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When I started working on this blog I thought I would hammer out a simple explanation of when to use the Raw option in AutoHotkey…and to a large degree I do that. However, in the course of testing both the Raw option and the backtick Escape Character, I discovered a secret undocumented feature of Hotstrings. In some special cases, it may come in handy for changing Hotstrings on-the-fly.

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Turn AutoHotkey System Tray Icons into One-Click Action Buttons (AutoHotkey Tip)

Rather Than Using Hotkey Combinations, a Simple Click of the Icon in the Windows System Tray Launches Your App

One of the features I added to the InstantHotkeyArrays.ahk script turns the Windows System Tray AutoHotkey into a one-click button for launching new Instant Hotkeys. The new hot-button made from an existing icon works out well—especially since I can never remember the Hotkey combination for creating a new Instant Hotkey. Continue reading

Beginning Tips for Writing AutoHotkey Scripts

Exploring the Existential Mysteries of AutoHotkey Code and How It’s Often Misunderstood

AutoHotkeyInsightsI’ve just published my latest book, Beginning Tips for Writing AutoHotkey Script, which endeavors to clear up some of the mystery surrounding the way AutoHotkey works. You’ll find grasping how AutoHotkey processes AHK scripts a tremendous help. Quite a bit of the confusion encountered by novice AutoHotkey scriptwriters occurs through misunderstandings about the manner in which everything (life, the universe, and AutoHotkey scripts) fits together. I wrote the book with that muddiness in mind. Continue reading

The AutoHotkey “For Key [, Value] in Expression” Loop for Associative Arrays

The Standard AutoHotkey Loop Command Works Great for Incremental Series, But the For Key [, Value] in Expression Object Loop Offers Unique Flexibility for Associative Arrays

In my last blog, I introduced associative arrays to the InstantHotkeyArrays.ahk script for solving the connection problem between the Instant Hotkey combination and the insertion text. It works brilliantly—although novice AutoHotkey users might experience a slight learning curve.

On the downside of associative arrays, the standard AutoHotkey Loop command may not provide the access you need to all of the array items. Fortunately, AutoHotkey provides a command specifically for use with Objects such as true arrays: For Key [, Value] in Expression.

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Using Associative Arrays to Solve the Instant Hotkey Data Recall Problem (AutoHotkey Technique)

While Many Other Approaches Work (Sort of), AutoHotkey Associative Arrays Provides a Simple Solution

Elegant Solution

Refinement and simplicity are implied, rather than fussiness, or ostentation. An elegant solution, often referred to in relation to problems in disciplines such as mathematics, engineering, and programming, is one in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest or simplest effort.

In the last few blogs, I figured out a number of solutions for returning the insertion text via Hotkey combinations for multiple GUIs in the InstantHotkey.ahk script. Many of these approaches worked, yet I continued searching for a more elegant answer. Now, I present my best solution (so far) which includes the use of an AutoHotkey associative array. Continue reading

Matching Instant Hotkeys with a Loop (AutoHotkey Tip)

Sometimes You’ll Find a Loop a Simpler Way to Match Things

ProgrammingRobot

“…stuck in an infinite loop. Like I just said, it’s so depressing to get stuck in an infinite loop. Like I just said, it’s…”

If you’re new to AutoHotkey with little or no scripting experience, then this blog may venture too far into the weeds. I don’t like to put off new users because the journey into Windows scripting is well worthwhile. Most find it easy to get started with AutoHotkey with many simple-to-implement tools. However, it takes a little time to understand the nuances of the more advanced techniques. I recommend that AutoHotkey noobies start with the basics such as found in the “Introduction to AutoHotkey: A Review and Guide for Beginners” page. You’ll obtain immediate, rewarding results with basic AutoHotkey. Then, as your comfort with scripting increases, introduce yourself to more of AutoHotkey’s power with some of the slightly elevated topics.

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In the last blog, by writing the IH_VarText(Var) function, I created a clever (even if I do say so myself) yet uneasy technique for linking the Instant Hotkey combination to the insertion text by converting the key combination (full of illegal variable characters) to a legal two-deep variable. While this worked, in most cases, it left a number of holes in the subroutine. Unless I added a trap line for every possible illegal key (e.g. the semicolon ” ; “ key, the slash ” / ” key, the hyphen ” ‘ ” key, etc), errors might occur. I needed to make a change. Continue reading

Two-Deep Variables for Tracking Data (AutoHotkey Trick)

When You Find No Obvious Way to Link Specific Data to an Object or Another Value, You Might Try Saving It to a Variable within a Variable

Sometimes you encounter a scripting situation where saving data to just any random variable doesn’t do the job. While creating variables and storing values is simple enough, you may find it difficult to recall those values at the right time. It’s important to know you’re getting the right data when you want it. Maybe using the value of a variable as a variable name (two-deep) will give you what you need. Continue reading