A Trick for Creating a New Hotkey from a Subroutine (AutoHotkey Quick Tip)

Use the GoTo Command to Turn the Subroutine for Reading AHK File Notes into a Hotkey for Peeking into Any File Selected in Windows File Explorer

Last time in my “Peeking at Notes Inside Auto-Startup AHK Script Files (AutoHotkey Startup Control)” blog, I discussed the feature in the AutoStartupControl.ahk script for reading and displaying notes from a .ahk source file. The ScriptNotes subroutine uses the data in the Startup folder shortcut to locate the file, then parses out the first set of notes for display. This creates a quick reminder for the purpose and operation of the AutoHotkey scripts automatically loaded when Windows boots.

While a handy tool for the AutoStartupControl.ahk script, the subroutine would offer even more value if I could select any .ahk file in Windows File Explorer and read its notes. For that expanded capability, I need a new Hotkey combination that bypasses reading the Startup folder shortcut and directly accesses the file selected in the Explorer window.

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Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Mining Text in Files (AutoHotkey Startup Control)

When It Comes to Extracting Data from Text Files, Nothing Works Like Regular Expressions (RegEx)

Last time, “Peeking at Notes Inside Auto-Startup AHK Script Files,” I added a feature for reading notes inside the .ahk files targeted by shortcuts launched from the Windows Startup folder to the AutoStartupControl.ahk script. This gave me a method for reminding myself how the various auto-startup scripts work. In that blog, I discussed how to find the .ahk file containing the notes. This time, I take a look at how to use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to extract the script notes.

Anyone who follows my blog or reads my books knows that I have a fondness for Regular Expressions (RegEx). The averages person may not find the RegEx system easy to follow or implement, but once the concept clicks, it makes certain aspects of programming much easier—regardless of the programming language. (That’s why I wrote the book A Beginner’s Guide to Using Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey.) When confronted with extracting text or implementing complex replacements, I immediately gravitate toward RegEx. When implemented in scripts such as IPFind.ahk and SynonymLookup.ahk, these enigmatic expressions have made my AutoHotkey life much easier.

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Peeking at Notes Inside Auto-Startup AHK Script Files (AutoHotkey Startup Control)

We Can Track Numerous AutoHotkey Scripts Added to the Startup Folder, But Can We Remember How They All Work? Add a Peek Capability to the Auto-Startup Menu as an App Reminder

With so many different AutoHotkey scripts running, the problem of remembering how they all work arises. I may know that I have an app running but not recall the Hotkey combinations needed to access its features. Each new app creates a new set of memory challenges.

I could write one huge help message, but keeping it up-to-date turns into an unwieldy problem. I need a method for quickly peeking at an apps notes without forcing myself to open the .ahk file.

To accomplish this feat, the new ScriptNotes subroutine in the AutoStartupControl.ahk script must:

  1. Load the shortcut’s target file into a variable.
  2. Extract the script notes from that variable.
  3. Display the extracted notes in a pop-up MsgBox.
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Add Submenus to the Auto-Startup Menu to Increase Options (AutoHotkey Startup Control)

Submenus Allow AutoHotkey Users to Add Features to Apps Without Needing More Screen Space

Last time in “Adding Startup Folder Shortcuts to a System Tray Menu,” I inserted the Startup folder shortcuts into a System Tray right-click menu. This gave me a method for quickly accessing an auto-load script even when it doesn’t display an icon in the System Tray.

A click of the menu item either opens the script (.ahk) in Notepad or opens the target folder for a compiled executable (.exe) file. While the original menu does the basic job of keeping track of the auto-startup scripts, it only executes one action—opening a script or folder. To expand the capabilities of the Startup Control, we need to add submenus.

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Adding Startup Folder Shortcuts to a System Tray Menu (AutoHotkey Startup Control)

By Loading the Startup Folder Shortcuts into a Menu, We Can Access the Apps Even When No Icon Appears in the System Tray

Last time (“Collecting File Information from Windows Folders Using AutoHotkey“), I produced a simple MsgBox displaying the Windows shortcuts found in the Startup folder. When Windows launches, it reads and loads the programs or shortcut targets located in that folder. This provides AutoHotkey users an easy method for auto-loading their most-used scripts. However, the more scripts, the more clutter that appears in the System Tray in the form of AutoHotkey icons. You can reduce the crowding by adding the Menu,Tray,NoIcon command line to each script but then you need a technique for quickly reaching those hidden apps.

By inserting the shortcut names into a separate System Tray right-click context menu, you can both generate a list of shortcuts and provide quick access to the scripts. In this barebones AutoHotkey script, I create a menu that opens either the target script in Notepad (.ahk files) or the folder for the program (.exe files).

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Collecting File Information from Windows Folders Using AutoHotkey

In Order to Manage Scripts Launched from the Windows Startup Folder, We Must First Know the Folder’s Contents

Last time in “Auto-Loading AutoHotkey Scripts When Booting Windows,” I highlighted the problem introduced by launching scripts from the Windows Startup folder on boot up—too many AutoHotkey icons in the System Tray might overwhelm the status bar. We can turn off the icons, but that’s like turning out the lights in an unlighted, windowless room full of furniture. You don’t know what’s where. We need a handy system for consolidating the information sitting in the Startup folder without making it too intrusive.

This time I demonstrate one technique for consolidating the Startup folder data for display. I have yet to settle on how I want to display the information and use the data. I see a number of possibilities:

  1. A single MsgBox listing the Startup shortcuts—the simplest, yet least flexible approach.
  2. A single System Tray icon right-click menu listing the Startup shortcuts—more flexible but limited in action creating techniques.
  3. A GUI window using a ListView control displaying the Startup folder’s shortcut data—the most flexible and powerful approach but more complicated to implement.
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Auto-Loading AutoHotkey Scripts When Booting Windows

Add Shortcuts to Your Windows Startup Folder to Automatically Run Your Most Important Scripts

Every AutoHotkey user keeps a few favorite scripts at hand. Some people put them in one big master AHK file—auto-loading it when Windows boots. Others may use Windows Task Scheduler to initiate the apps. (See the “Windows Task Scheduler to Elevate Script Privileges” section of Chapter 16.1.4 of Jack’s Motley Assortment of AutoHotkey Tips.) Even more, add individual shortcuts to the Windows Startup folder for the preferred scripts. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. In this blog, I visit AutoHotkey techniques for adding shortcuts to the Windows Startup folder.

Recently, a reader pointed out that the link for the AutoStartupToggle.ahk script at the Free AutoHotkey Scripts page pointed to the wrong script. I repaired the link then took a closer look at the script.

After selecting an AutoHotkey script (.ahk) or compiled app (.exe) in Windows File Explorer, the Ctrl+Win+3 key combination creates a shortcut in the Startup folder—auto-loading the script on bootup. If the matching shortcut exists in the Startup folder, that same Hotkey combination removes it. While this barebones routine works fine, I began considering the implications of using the Startup folder for all my regular scripts. This prompted me to dig deeper into the possibilities.

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Moving Forward with AutoHotkey Chrome.ahk Tools

My Last Three Blogs Offer a Basic Introduction to Installing and Running the Chrome.ahk Web Page Automation Tools—Find More Resources for these Useful Functions

In my earlier blogs, I posted a beginner’s introduction to GeekDude’s Chrome.ahk Web page automation tools:

I wrote these columns to bridge the gap between the novice-level user and the videos produced by GeekDude and Joe Glines—even causing me to take time to allow the techniques to ferment in my brainpan. While the videos provide excellent information, they assume a certain level of user experience. Hopefully, my blogs provide enough insight to allow new users to:

  1. Develop a basic understanding of how Chrome.ahk functions facilitate the completion of Web forms while highlighting the complications from HTML and Javascript code.
  2. Make a decision about whether they will continue to pursue these Web automation techniques.

After this reference blog, unless someone asks me specific questions about Chrome.ahk, I intend to move on to other topics.

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Using Chrome.ahk AutoHotkey Tools to Automatically Fill-in Web Forms (Part 2)

How to Write Javascript Code for Web Page Automation Using AutoHotkey Chrome.ahk Tools—Digging into the Quirks of Javascript

In my last blog (“Using Chrome.ahk AutoHotkey Tools to Automatically Fill-in Web Forms (Part 1)“), I discussed how to reveal Web page control names in the source code. This time, I explain how to use those control names to write Javascript expressions for inserting data into text fields and activating menu items and buttons.

Javascript Code

HTML code creates the Web page structure—including editing fields, menus, and buttons. We use Javascript commands to initiate action within the static HTML Web. The functions found in Chrome.ahk AutoHotkey tools use Javascript expressions to send commands to the active Web page by channeling those directives through a Chrome debugger channel. You must use Javascript to communicate with the Web page.

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Using Chrome.ahk AutoHotkey Tools to Automatically Fill-in Web Forms (Part 1)

Analyze Web Page HTML Code to Find Control Names and/or IDs for Writing Javascript Expressions for Automating Web Forms Using the Chrome.ahk Library

Logging into online accounts ranks as one of the most common motivations for AutoHotkey users automating Web pages. Using screen-level AutoHotkey Web page automation can get cumbersome. For more reliable and accurate solutions consider source-level automation using the AutoHotkey Chrome.ahk Library of tools. However, before automating any Web forms with these functions, you need to accomplish two tasks:

  1. Analyze the Web page to identify the target HTML controls’ name or id (e.g. text fields, buttons, etc).
  2. Write Javascript action expressions for use with the Chrome.ahk library.

In this blog, I introduce how to identify the controls required to fill in a Web form. In my next blog, I’ll address the more complex task of writing the Javascript expressions for Web page input.

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