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

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Repeat Words and Phrases with RegEx Hotstrings

Save Time with This RegEx Hotstring for Inserting Repeated Words or Sentences—”Blah!” Instantly Turns Into  “Blah! Blah! Blah!”

regexrobotcartoonAt the end of my last blog, I postulated the possibility of a word duplicating RegEx Hotstring. While I don’t know how many people would ever use it, I do remember a time when the technique would have come in handy (as shown in the cartoon on the left). I thought that I would leave the problem as a reader’s challenge and move on, but I found that I couldn’t just abandon the loose end.

While this trick may not embody the most essential Hotstring, the technique might stimulate other AutoHotkey users to venture forward with their own variations on RegEx Hotstrings. I would love to hear about other innovative applications of the RegExHotstring() function—doing things that prove difficult (or impossible) with either traditional double-colon Hotstrings or the built-in Hotstring() function. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Word Manipulating Dynamic AutoHotkey Hotstrings

A Mini-Regular Expressions (RegEx) Tutorial Using the RegExHotstrings() Function for Word Swapping and Double Word Auto-Delete

While the RegExHotstrings() function has its limitations (discussed in “Dynamic Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Math Calculating Hotstrings“), we can quickly implement some simple (yet complex) dynamic Hotstrings using a one-line function call. The RegExHotstrings() function offers a few advantages over the traditional Hotstring format. Regular Expressions (RegEx) used in the function bust through the fixed-text limitations of the double-colon format (e.g. ::lol::laugh out loud). RegEx allows you to match string patterns making wildcard text replacements possible. To explain how the RegExHotstrings() function works, I use one-line function calls to replace ambiguous text with targeted results.

RegExHotstrings

In order to make the best use of the RegExHotstrings() function, we need an understanding of the key concepts driving the function. Once we get a hang of how to operate this dynamic Hotstring function, we can analyze the parentheses-enclosed expressions in each example to develop a better grasp of how RegEx works.

In this blog, I highlight two different RegExHotstrings() function word editing operations: one for swapping the order of two errant words; the second for auto-deleting duplicate words. After introducing RegExHotstrings() key concepts, I explain step-by-step how each RegEx behaves.

Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Guidelines for AutoHotkey Function Libraries

When Using Function Libraries, You Don’t Need to Embed Your Functions into Each of Your AutoHotkey Scripts—But Sometimes Keeping Them Close Works Out Better

In the past two blogs, “Dynamic Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Math Calculating Hotstrings” and “The Eval() Function for Hotkey Math Calculations and Text Manipulation“, I highlighted two different powerful, auxiliary (not built-in) AutoHotkey functions: RegExHotstrings() and Eval(). Normally, you might embed a user-defined function inside your script but these two functions take up quite a few lines of code. Plus, you might want to use those same functions in a number of different scripts. Adding them to each script can get a little cumbersome—even when using the #Include directive.

Fortunately, when loading a script, if AutoHotkey doesn’t find a directly called function inside the script, it automatically searches the special Function Libraries. But, before you race to put all of your functions in one of those Libraries, you should consider a number of factors. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: The Eval() Function for Hotkey Math Calculations and Text Manipulation

The Classic Eval() Function Solves Problems You Didn’t Even Know You Had by Calculating and Resolving AutoHotkey Functions and Expressions Found in Text Strings!

When I work on particular AutoHotkey solutions, often I find myself in the middle of a treasure hunt—picking up hidden gems along the way. Although operative for years, I didn’t know these valuable tools existed until I went searching for answers to a seemingly unrelated problem.

EvalfunctionMsgBox2For example, the simple question about capitalizing sentences led me to the RegExHotstrings() function discussed last time. As I dug deeper into the math-side of dynamic Hotstrings, I discovered the Eval() function. While many old AutoHotkey hands have employed the Eval() function for years, I didn’t understand its power until I used it in the investigation. (Even now the Eval() function does way more than I comprehend. I’ve only scratched the surface of its capabilities.) Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Dynamic Regular Expressions (RegEx) for Math Calculating Hotstrings

An AutoHotkey Classic, the Dynamic Hotstrings() Function Makes Instant RegEx Replacements Possible—Now, You Can Do Math with Your Hotstrings!

Anyone who reads my blog on a routine basis knows how I love Regular Expressions (RegEx). They make feasible all kinds of capabilities not practical by any other method. While not necessarily easy for a beginner to grasp, RegEx provides a mechanism for matching text when you don’t know exactly which characters you need (wildcards). (That’s why I wrote the book A Beginner’s Guide to Using Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey.) Although you may encounter a bit of a learning curve, RegEx gives you the ability to accomplish some pretty fancy tasks. This time I plan to demonstrate a couple of Hotstring techniques that might amaze you—they did me! Continue reading

Quick Tip: Using the Sleep Command with Clipboard Routines

Use the Sleep Command to Debug Intermittent Routines

tipsLast night, I received the following comment from Thom Blake about last week’s blog “Auto-Capitalize the First Letter of Sentences” prompting this Quick Tip about adding the Sleep command at critical points in certain types of AutoHotkey routines:

Jack

Great script but I seem to have a problem with the capitalize a word function. It only works intermittently. The message box says “No text selected!” when clearly there is.

Thanks, Thom!

This is a needed reminder about a common problem when using the Send command with the Clipboard routine. Sometimes, for whatever reason, certain commands execute before the completion of the last action. In this case, AutoHotkey attempts to copy text to the Windows Clipboard before the SendInput text selection action completes: Continue reading