AutoHotkey Speed Tips

A Collection of Techniques for Speeding Up Your AutoHotkey Scripts

I recently received the follow message from an AutoHotkey user perusing my blogs:

Jack, you can’t post false statements like this:

“However, the ternary does not provide better performance than the traditional If-Then-Else statement format.”

The ternary operator is inarguably faster than if/else and I encourage you to try this yourself.

I recently switched the core logic of my JSON parser from If/Else to ternary and saw an incredible speed increase. To the point where I only use If/If Else/Else statements when absolutely necessary (Ex: If I must have a loop in the middle of a check).

You can code entire blocks using nothing but ternary as long as you use proper parentheses, commas, and function calls.

There is a very well done AHK forum post that covers script optimizations and they report that ternary performs FORTY PERCENT FASTER than if/else statements.

Not sure if hyperlinks are allowed in these comments, so instead I’ll advise googling “AHK How to optimize the speed of a script as much as possible.” The first result should be the article in question. Pages 1 and 4 have tons of script speed gold in them.

I hope you’ll consider correcting/updating this article.

Groggy Otter

Comment on “AutoHotkey Toggles and the Ternary Operator”

I wrote that blog five years ago and I don’t know that I was talking about performance speed. I think I was referring to how the two expressions operate. In any case, I used a poor choice of words and have drawn a line through the comment.

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AutoHotkey Tip of The Week: Evaluating Deprecated AutoHotkey Commands

As Time Passes, You May Notice More and More Deprecated AutoHotkey Commands in the Online Documentation—When Should You Rewrite Your Scripts and When Should You Ignore the Changes?

While working on the latest version of the QuickLinks.ahk script, I saw that the syntax for the Loop (files & folders) command for the reading the names of directories and files had changed in the online AutoHotkey documentation. (It’s about time that I noticed since it changed back in 2015.) In the original program I used:

Loop, C:\Users\%A_UserName%\QuickLinks\*.*, 2 , 0


Loop, %A_LoopFileFullPath%\*.*, 1 , 0

The powers-that-be deprecated that form of the command substituting:

Loop, Files, C:\Users\%A_UserName%\QuickLinks\*.*, D


Loop, Files, %A_LoopFileFullPath%\*.*, FD

While the new syntax seems a little clearer, it appears to act in the same manner as the original (still operational) form of the command. A person may ask, “Why the change the command at all?” 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:


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


  TextMenu("election, electron")

I copied and pasted the list into Notepad++ and then ran this find-and-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: A Look at the New Switch/Case Command

In the DateStampConvert.ahk Script, Rather than Using a Series of If-Else Statements (or the Ternary Operator), the New Switch Command Sets Up Case Statements for Alternative Results—Plus, Easily Add Conversions for Spanish, German, French, and Italian Date Formats

Over a year ago, I used a cascading series of the ternary operators to convert English text month names into their numeric values within a single function (“Use the Ternary Operator to Create Conditional Case Statements or Switches“). The ternary operator shortcut acts as If-Else statements in abbreviated form.

In the DateStampConvert.ahk script, a technique similar to Switch/Case statements converts the name of a month into its corresponding numeric value.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Increase the Flexibility of Menus by Passing Data with the BoundFunc Object

Streamline and Add Power to Hotstring Menus by Binding Action Parameters Directly to Each Menu Item

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If you use AutoHotkey menus, then you may find this blog the most useful menu tip yet. At first, using the BoundFunc Object to pass data may seem confusing, but, once understood, it opens up many more opportunities for taking advantage of menus in your AutoHotkey scripts.

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As often happens when working on an AutoHotkey script, a deeper understanding of the available tools completely changes the direction of the project. While all of the Menu tricks I’ve offered in the past HotstringMenu.ahk scripts still work (and you may want to continue using many of those techniques), the following approach which combines arrays, the variadic function parameter, and the boundfunc object creates a cleaner, more functional structure for generating Hotstring replacement menus. In short, implementing the boundfunc object allows me to drop many of those previous menu tricks and build menus using virtually any menu item format without regard for their later use through the value of the A_ThisMenuItem variable.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week—Powerful RegEx Text Search Shorthand (~=)

AutoHotkey Provides an Abbreviated Regular Expression RegExMatch() Operator ( ~= ) for Quick Wildcard Text Matches

Regular Expressions (RegEx) can get confusing, but once understood, they pay tremendous dividends. Acting almost as another programming language, Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey provide a method for accomplishing complex search and/or replacement with only one line of code. While not impossible, doing the same thing without using RegEx often requires complex tricks and many lines of code. In the beginning, learning RegEx many feel daunting but you’ll find it well worth the journey.

Light Bulb!In spite of the initial learning curve, you don’t need to learn how the two primary AutoHotkey RegEx functions work (RegExMatch() and RegExReplace()) to make good use of a RegEx. The shorthand RegEx operator ( ~= ) provides a method for doing a complex string match without the limitations of the InStr() function. Regular Expressions search for patterns while the InStr() function searches for exact strings.

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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.)

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

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Using GUI Checkbox Controls to Set Hotstring Options (AutoHotkey Technique)

AutoHotkey Hotstrings Use a String of Characters to Turn Options On and Off—GUI Checkbox Controls Offer a Visual Display for the Active Options along with a Method for Enabling/Disabling Each Feature

Previously (in “The Coming Instant Hotstring Script (AutoHotkey App)“), we reviewed the work still needed in the InstantHotstring.ahk script. This time we implement Hotstring options using the Hotstring() function.

Converting GUI (Graphical User Interface) Checkbox controls into Hotstring options codes (and back again) involves adept programming tricks. We use GUI windows and their controls to make applications user-friendly. People find it much easier to push discreet buttons and check separate boxes than work directly with often enigmatic programming codes. That means we must build a method for translating between the user-friendly input in a GUI window and the required code. Continue reading

Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function to Disable/Enable Hotstrings

While the Hotstring() Function Won’t Delete Hotstrings, It Can Toggle Them Off and On (Disable and Re-Enable)

Technically, once created, you can’t delete a Hotstring without exiting the script. However, you can disable and enable its function. When you disable a Hotstring using the Hotstring() function, it loses its power—similar to the effect of deleting it. But, since the disabled Hotstring still exists, you can bring it back to life by re-enabling it with the same Hotstring() function. Continue reading

Save AutoHotkey Script Settings in Your Windows Registry

While You Can Use an External File to Save Your Script Defaults, You Can Also Call-on the Windows Registry to Store App Settings

In most cases, I’ve used a separate file (text or INI) to save settings. While this works well, it requires the creation and tracking of that independent file. For the script to read the settings, it must know where to locate that file. But, if you want to save script settings without the baggage of that extra file, then consider using your Windows Registry.

You’ll find a few advantages to maintaining your script settings in the Windows Registry:

  1. Unlike a separate settings file, you don’t need to keep track of the Windows Registry’s location—it never moves. Regardless of where you locate your AutoHotkey script on your computer, you will always find its settings in the exact same place.
  2. You won’t accidentally lose your settings by manually deleting what may seem like an extra file in Windows File Explorer.
  3. Your settings remain semi-hidden from public view in a semi-permanent form.

This approach to storing your script defaults deep inside the recesses of Windows adds an air of mystery to your apps—especially if you compile them into EXE files. Continue reading