AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Quick Menu for Activating Open Windows

With a Few Modifications, the WindowList.ahk Script Pops Up a Menu of Open Windows for Quick Activation—Plus, How to Detect When a Windows Opens or Closes

I originally used the WindowList.ahk script as a demonstration of how to use the GUI DropDownList control as a list of selection options for activating open windows (included in the Digging Deeper Into AutoHotkey book). Once, while testing someone’s script, it proved very useful. I could not find the GUI window generated by the code. The script had placed the target window somewhere off the screen. The scriptwriter originally used a second monitor—which I didn’t have. The WindowList.ahk script moved the window back into my view.

As I reviewed the script, I realized that building a pop-up menu of open windows could serve a purpose similar to the QuickLinks.ahk script—except, rather than launching apps and Web sites, the menu would activate open windows. Now, that’s something that I can use!

I often keep numerous windows open simultaneously. Generally, I locate a window by hovering over the Windows Taskbar then selecting the image which looks right. It takes a second for the thumbnails to appear, then hovering over each helps me make my selection. But what if I could maintain a menu of all open Windows available in a menu for instant activation? Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use the GUI Menu Bar for Instant Hotkeys

Rather than Creating New Hotkeys and Isolating Them Using the #IfWinActive Directive, Simply Add Keyboard Accelerators Using a GUI Menu Bar

Note: This week’s keyboard accelerator tip is not the same technique as adding an ampersand before any letter in a menu item—although that trick still works. The beauty of this technique lies in the fact that you can embed and execute a multitude of active window Hotkey-like actions in a menu bar without ever opening the menu itself.

In almost every one of my books, I discuss using the Menu command to build free-floating selection lists for a wide variety of tasks. I use menus for the HotstringMenu.ahk script, the QuickLinks.ahk favorites app, SynomynLookup.ahk, and numerous other purposes. In the GUI ListView control examples found in the AutoHotkey Applications book for the to-do list, the address book, the calorie counting app and listings of icon images, the right-click context menu pops open for individual action items. Menus provide an easy method for adding features to AutoHotkey scripts while saving space. I’ve always known that you can add a menu bar to the top of any AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) but had little to say about it—until now.

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The Ctrl+T in the menu bar item creates an accelerator key combination which, whenever pressed, acts as an active window Hotkey for instantly executing the option—even without opening the GUI menu bar.

While working on my latest to-do list script (ToDoListINI.ahk), I realized that I wanted to add a couple more options to the app, but I didn’t like the idea of inserting more buttons into the GUI. I naturally turned to a menu bar at the top of the GUI which could include many more actions while taking up minimal area. After a quick glance at the Gui, Menu command, I realized that I had routinely overlooked one of the most important aspects of Gui menu bars: accelerator keyboard combinations. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: AltSubmit Prevents One-Click Field Editing in GUI ListView Control

Sometimes Adding More Capabilities to a GUI Eliminates Other Features

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Chapter Ten “More To-Do List App (Resizing and Positioning the GUI)” of  the AutoHotkey Applications book discusses “Direct Editing in the First Column Field of ListView.” This convenient feature mirrors the one-click editing you get when working with Windows File Explorer—the same effect as selecting Rename from the right-click context menu or hitting the F2 key. The feature makes it easy to change the name of a file or folder. I find this technique much simpler than editing text in a separate edit field then clicking an Update button, however, you can accidentally disable one-click editing in a GUI ListView when attempting to add other useful features by including the AltSubmit option. Continue reading

How to Use the Windows Registry to Save Data Table Records

Saving To-Do List Data Items in the Windows Registry Allows Interactive Realtime Updates from the GUI ListView Control

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The GUI ListView control acts like a data table (i.e. interactive rows and columns). The ListView control includes a number of functions for adding, inserting, modifying and deleting rows and columns,—plus, even more functions for sorting and selecting rows, as well as, retrieving data. I’ve used the AutoHotkey ListView control for a to-do list (shown at right), an address book,  a calorie counting app and listings of icon images embedded in files. (I consider all of these apps educational tools or starting points for AutoHotkey scripting—not final products.)

The AutoHotkey ListView control operates in the same manner as Windows File Explorer—automatically sorting on clicked column headers with editing available in the first field of the selected row on a second click. When included in a GUI (Graphical User Interface), the control adds a great deal of flexibility to any data table display, but it does not automatically save the data. You must write that code yourself. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use ToolTips to Make Apps User-Friendly—August 26, 2019

Tip: By Applying the OnMessage() Function, You Can Include Windows ToolTip Notes in Your AutoHotkey GUI Window Scripts to Add Hints and/or Instructions Which Pop-up When Mousing-Over the Controls

Light Bulb!People might find some cleverly-designed AutoHotkey scripts confusing. Wouldn’t you like to add hints and tips which explain each control in your AutoHotkey GUI window? You can do just that with the ToolTip command and the OnMessage() function.

coverepub-250In the book AutoHotkey Applications, “Chapter Thirty-four: Pop-up Labels for All Your Programs (ToolTip Command)”, the Tooltip command highlights each control in an AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) window. Use the ToolTip command to add helpful little informational notes to your AutoHotkey applications. Once you implement this tip, whenever you hover the mouse cursor over controls in an AutoHotkey GUI, the ToolTip command will identify the control’s function or give instant instructions (as shown below).

(Extra Tip: You can use this same technique with other non-AutoHotkey Windows application by identifying window and control names with Windows Spy or the WindowProbe.ahk script, then writing a short companion AutoHotkey script to work with the Windows program.)

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An AutoHotkey GUI shows three different ToolTips as the cursor is moved over each control.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: How to Combine Multiple Scripts into One—August 19, 2019

Design Your Scripts to Either Run as Stand-alone Apps or Use the #Include Directive to Integrate into a Master Script without Modification

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The cool thing about this tip is that, after you implement these techniques—without any additional changes—you can run your AutoHotkey script as an independent app or quickly add it to a master script. 

In “Chapter Eleven: How to Write Easy-Merge AutoHotkey Scripts” from the book Beginning Tips for Writing AutoHotkey Scripts, I outline steps for writing scripts which easily combine with other scripts without conflict. This allows the AutoHotkey user to run multiple apps without needing to launch each script individually. (It also prevents the accumulation of numerous AutoHotkey icons in the Windows System Notification Tray.) If you employ these basic design tips when writing your apps you’ll find that you don’t need to do any rewrites when combining useful scripts. Continue reading

Username and Password Protection in AutoHotkey

While You Won’t Find Absolute Password Protection, There Are a Number of Techniques Available to Help Hide Your Secrets

Computer security is one of the major issues of these times. How do we protect our data? Even after all of the latest innovations in cybersecurity, we hear about hacks of major sites and institutions. With all the ways we use today’s computers, we want to feel as safe as possible.

Caution: Human error (e.g. opening the wrong attachment, not changing passwords, etc.) offers the number one opportunity for the bad guys to invade your privacy. If someone gains access to your computer, then you have virtually no protection. Some people either don’t add a password to their Windows computer or allow autologin when the machine boots up. That’s a mistake! Always require password login to access your Windows computer. Otherwise, you make it too easy for people who stumble upon your computer—either in your office or cyberspace. Continue reading