AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Tricks for Tracking and Activating Target Process Windows

When Implementing Various AutoHotkey Techniques Sometimes We Need to Find Our Way Back to the Proper Window

Most AutoHotkey applications don’t require complicated tracking of process windows. Hotstrings, Hotkeys, and most other techniques do their work in the currently active window. Generally, menus and GUIs automatically return to the original on-top location once they close. However, occasionally circumstances force us to move to other apps or tools—deactivating the current window—before returning to the original target. AutoHotkey offers a couple of techniques for getting back to the right spot on our Windows Desktop.

piechartcartoonFor example, the MousePrecise.ahk app (for precision movement of the mouse cursor) allows users to temporarily enable the mouse accuracy tool in new windows with either a Hotkey combination or a right-click selection from the Windows System Tray icon menu. Since the Hotkey doesn’t change window focus, it works fine, but the act of selecting an item from the System Tray icon menu deactivates the original window. Therefore, before AutoHotkey can include the new app in the active group, it must refocus on that process window and capture its title. Continue reading

Quick Tip: The Best Way to Paste with the AutoHotkey Send Command

When Using the Send Command to Paste from the Clipboard, a Simple Best Practice Can Make the Difference

tipsI’ve noticed that occasionally a couple of my Clipboard paste Hotkeys would cause a jump to the Bottom of the page in the WordPress editing window—a huge source of aggravation. Fortunately, I rarely used those Hotkeys. Then, while working on my blog for next week, I ran into the problem again in a simple capitalization Hotkey routine. This confused me since my standard uppercase, lowercase, and initial cap Hotkeys work just fine. The new Hotkey wasn’t that much different. I investigated. Continue reading

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.

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: Add Temporary Hotkeys to MsgBox Windows—September 23, 2019

Isolate Hotkeys to Only Operate for an Open or Active Window

In the Weekly Tip, “IfWinActive Versus #IfWinActive“, I recommended isolating Hotkeys to specific windows. This time I offer a practical example.

hotkeycover200For more information, see “Chapter Two: Block Windows Shortcuts with AutoHotkey” and “Chapter Three: AutoHotkey #Directives for Context-Sensitive Hotkeys—#IfWinActive” of the book AutoHotkey Hotkey Tips, Tricks, and Techniques.

The #IfWinExist directive offers a number of advantages when creating temporary Hotkeys:

  1. The Hotkeys activate only when AutoHotkey opens the controlling window.
  2. If other conflicting Hotkeys exist, the temporary Hotkeys take precedence as long as the window exists.
  3. After closing the controlling window, the Hotkeys deactivate minimizing interference with other possible Hotkeys or shortcuts.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Auto-Swap Transposed Letters—September 9, 2019

Tip: Fix Reversed Letter Typos with this Simple Hotkey Trick

Place the cursor between two letters and hit the Alt+R Hotkey combination. The letters reverse positions.

Light Bulb!I use this Hotkey whenever my mild dyslexia kicks in and leaves me with swapped letters. My AutoHotkey AutoCorrect.ahk script may catch many such errors but many more make it on to my computer screen. I could have written a Hotkey routine which swapped pre-selected (highlighted) letters, but, rather than taking the time to select the characters by dragging the mouse across them, I wanted to merely place the cursor between the two errant letters.

This use of the Send command makes it incredibly easy to transpose any two letters. Simply place the cursor between them and hit ALT+R (as shown in the figure.)

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Instant Upper Case, Lower Case, and Initial Cap Text—September 2, 2019

Tips: Quick Hotkeys for Changing Text To/From Capital Letters and How to Initial Cap Everything, Plus, How to Write Robust Clipboard Routines

Light Bulb!This week I offer two useful tips: one for editing text and the other for improving your AutoHotkey scripts.

When reviewing my books, I look for those tips which I use all the time. I’ve found that I developed some scripts primarily for demonstration purposes and rarely ever use them again. Yet, I have a few which I use so much that I feel like they have become a part of my Windows system.

AHKNewCover200In this case, while perusing my Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey, I noticed in “Chapter Four: Hotkeys and Text Editing with Windows Clipboard” the Hotkeys for changing selected portions of text into all capital letters, all lowercase letters, or initial cap every word in the section. I originally wrote these Hotkeys when I edited articles submitted by freelance writers.

Some writers have a penchant for placing their article headlines and topic subheadings in all uppercase letters. By creating a Hotkey for converting the entire line to Title Mode (initial capital letter for each word), I quickly solved the retyping problem:
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Adding Italics to Hotstrings in Word Processing Software (AutoHotkey Quick Tip)

If You Work with a Word Processing Program (Local or Web-Based) Which Supports Control Characters for Special Formatting, Then, Possibly, You Can Add Auto-Italics (or Bold, Underline, Etc.) to Your Autohotkey Hotstrings

A little while back, I wrote the blog “Italicize Your Hotstring Replacements with this Input Command Ploy (AutoHotkey Tip)” which demonstrated tricks for adding special features robotaicartoonfor both the Input command and Hotstrings. While clever solutions (possibly too clever), I now realized that in many programs (and Web apps), there might exist a much easier solution—a “duh” moment. Continue reading

Pressing GUI Buttons with a Single Keystroke (AutoHotkey Tip)

Sometimes We Find It Easier to Hit a Key Rather Than Click a Button

An AutoHotkey forum user posted a question about using Hotkeys to activate buttons in a GUI window. He wanted to hit the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4, rather than clicking the individual buttons—but only for the active GUI window.

hotkeycover200While I discuss similar isolation of Hotkeys to specific active windows in my Hotkeys book, this blog provided another opportunity to show how to add more functionality to your GUIs without infringing upon other programs or Hotkeys. I attempted to make the script as simple as possible by using a number of AutoHotkey tricks. Continue reading

A Trick for Inserting Next Friday’s Date into Any Document (AutoHotkey Tip)

An AutoHotkey Technique for Determining Date for Any Coming Day of the Week, Plus a Pop-up for Picking Future Weekdays

“Do You Know Next Friday’s Date?”

We record upcoming events on our monthly calendars, but we live one week at a time. Most people work Monday through Friday and relax on Saturday and Sunday. If someone gives us a date for an occasion, we ask, “What day is that?”—meaning “Give me the day of the week.”

Continue reading