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: Windows Trick for Adding Embedded Folder Icons to QuickLinks Menus

This Technique Accesses Icons Embedded in Windows Folders for Inserting into Pop-up Menus—Plus, the New Combined Switch/Case Statement QuickLinks QL_GetIcon() Function

I completely rewrote the functions from the last blog for adding icons to the menus in the QuickLinks.ahk script combining the two into a shorter prioritized list using Switch/Case statements. In the process—after investigating how to read icons embedded in Windows folder/directory listings—I discovered an interesting Windows secret. It turns out that this procedure requires a totally different Windows maneuver than that used for reading Windows Shortcut file icons.

The Windows Desktop.ini File

UnHideFiles
Ryan’s UnHideFiles.ahk script makes Windows Registry changes to hide and unhide files.

When you embed an icon into a Windows folder (right-click on the folder name in Windows File Explorer, select Properties and the Customize tap, then click Change Icon… and browse for icons), rather than saving the icon path and icon number in the folder itself—as Windows does for shortcut files—it creates a special hidden file named desktop.ini in that same folder. With Windows set to Show Hidden Files, folder and drives in the View tab of the Folder Options window, you can view the hidden desktop.ini file in that folder. (Tip: You can use Ryan’s UnHideFiles.ahk script to hide and unhide files and folders.) Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Adding Icons to Menus the Easy Way(?)

Inserting Icons into Your AutoHotkey Menus Makes Options Standout and Easy to Navigate, But You May Need to Prioritize the Methods for Adding Icons

I’ve employed icons in my QuickLink.ahk script for many years, but the process I used for adding them to menu items always felt awkward and messy—too much special-purpose code.

I want the script to standalone without needing much tailoring. Most changes should occur in Windows File Explorer by creating folders or editing shortcuts. Then the QuickLinks.ahk script should read all the Menu items from that folder/file structure—including menu icons. However, my implementation of icons gets a bit sloppy. For my own QuickLinks, I added numerous special lines of code to deal with the inconsistencies in how Windows deals with folder and file icons. I’ve never felt comfortable with how it worked.

My recent work implementing the Switch/Case statements has prompted me to return to my original goal of producing a script needing little or no adapting. That means not only constructing the AutoHotkey menu directly from the folder/file structure shown in Windows File Explorer, but the menu icons themselves should load from those folders and shortcut files without requiring additional unique lines of AutoHotkey code in the script.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to Convert Repetitious AutoHotkey Code

Regular Expressions (RegEx) Can Simplify a Tedious Code Reformatting Problem

Recently, I received the following comment from Thom:

Greetings,

A small improvement to the Autocorrect AHK script. I have been using this script for years and find it very useful. I was always a bit intrigued about the section of ambiguous entries which was commented out and not much use.

I was fascinated to read about your TextMenu function [found in the book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings] to display the various choices. I found a simple way with RegEx to change all the entries in the section.

For example:

::electon::election, electron

To:

::electon::
  TextMenu("election, electron")
Return

I copied and pasted the list into Notepad++ and then ran this find-and-replace.

Find:

(::\w+::)(.+)

Replace:

$1\n TextMenu\(\"$2\"\)\nReturn

And presto it works—some entries need tweaking but it works well. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Embed Images Directly in the AHK Script

Rather than Use the FileInstall AutoHotkey Command, This Trick Allows You to Lodge Images Directly into Your AutoHotkey Scripts

Light Bulb!In the past, whenever I wanted to add a graphic image to an AutoHotkey script, I needed to either separately provided the file or embed it in the compiled EXE file using the FileInstall command. The AutoHotkey world has opened my eyes to an ancient technique for embedding an image directly in the AHK script—no need to supply the file separately or embed it by compiling the script. Continue reading

Put Your Emoji Hotstrings in a Pop-up Menu (AutoHotkey Trick)

Unless Endowed with a Photographic 📷 Memory, Who Can Memorize All the Activating Texts ✍ for Over 1000 Emoji 😀 Hotstrings? Use This Menu 🍱 Technique to Find and Insert Emojis 😀 Taken Directly from Your Hotstring Script

Who wouldn’t want all the emojis available at their fingertips? The last blog “Add Emoji Characters to Any Windows Document (AutoHotkey Hotstrings)” does just that. However, with the exception of the icons you use all the time, you won’t find remembering the activating strings easy. We need a quick lookup table to remind us of the activating strings for each image. Even better, why not a pop-up menu which both gives us the Hotstring keys and inserts the emoji? Fortunately, we can do this with a short AutoHotkey routine which searches the original EmojiInsert.ahk Hotstring file for our favorite characters.

Continue reading

The SynonymLookup.ahk Web Data-Driven App Fails (AutoHotkey Adjustments)

If the Source Code for a Web Page Changes, You May Need to Rewrite Your Web Data-Driven Script, Plus More AutoHotkey Tips

Because I do a great deal of writing, I’ve fallen in love with my SynonymLookup.ahk script which pops up a menu of alternative words for instant replacement in my documents. It’s pretty cool—even if I do say so myself. However, the other day, it ceased working.

After highlighting a redundant word, I initiated the Hotkey combination searching for an equivalent term. Nothing happened! No matter how much time passed, the script displayed nothing.

After investigating, I discovered that (exactly as I had contemplated in the first SynonymLookup.ahk blogThesaurus.com had changed the formatting of the target page source code causing my Regular Expression (RegEx) to fail. The manufactured GoTo loop I used to increase the reliability of the Web download created an infinite loop.

I needed to adapt. Continue reading

Recognize Running Scripts with System Tray Icon Techniques (AutoHotkey Tip)

If You Run a Number of AutoHotkey Scripts Simultaneously, Distinguish Each Icon in the Windows System Tray with These Menu Commands

At times, I’ve found that I have six or more AutoHotkey scripts running at the same time. Each one adds the little green icon with an embedded “H” to the Windows System Tray. This gets confusing. I can only tell them apart by hovering the mouse cursor over an icon and reading the script name in the Tooltip pop-up message. Sometimes the Tooltip alone doesn’t do an adequate job. Continue reading

Using Unique Icons for Specific Windows Shortcuts (AutoHotkey Menu Tip)

Draw Icons for AutoHotkey Menus Directly from Windows Shortcuts

I talked extensively in an earlier blog about adding icons to the menus in the QuickLinks.ahk script by using the FileGetShortcut command. This AutoHotkey command digs out data such as the target program from the shortcut. At the time, I didn’t attempt to use the captured icon data (OutIcon and OutIconNum—icon location and number respectively) because, in most cases, the variables came up blank. Even using the standard context menu creation option (New⇒Shortcut) often did not save the icon data for viewing with GetFileShortcut. Frankly, that would have made the process too easy.

Continue reading

New Version of QuickLinks AutoHotkey Script

Many Changes to QuickLinks.ahk Previously Discussed, Plus a Few New Features Not Yet Covered! Now Available for Download!

I’ve finally posted the latest version of QuickLinks.ahk which includes all of the discussions from the past few weeks—plus a couple more features and fixes which I plan to talk about in the near future. Continue reading