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

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: AutoHotkey Hotstring Menus for Text Replacement Options

Put Hard-to-Remember AutoHotkey Hotstring Replacements in a Menu

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Light Bulb!

This tip expands on Chapter Eight of my book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings, “Make Your Own Text AutoCorrect Hotstring Pop-up Menus with AutoHotkey” and Chapter Nine, “How to Turn AutoHotkey Hotstring AutoCorrect Pop-up Menus into a Function.” You can use these techniques in your AutoHotkey scripts to make the selection of similar Hotstrings easier to remember by selecting from a menu. Continue reading

AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Add Single-Key Shortcuts to Pop-up Menus—September 16, 2019

Sometimes It’s Just Easier to Use the Keyboard Rather Than Your Mouse

HotString Pop-upIf a menu busts in while typing, it forces you to switch to your mouse for resolution. This can get pretty annoying if your script uses a number of pop-up menus. For example, Chapter Eight, “Make Your Own Text AutoCorrect Hotstring Pop-up Menus with AutoHotkey” and Chapter Nine, “How to Turn AutoHotkey Hotstring AutoCorrect Pop-up Menus into a Function” of the book Beginning AutoHotkey Hotstrings shows you how to set up a list of alternative corrections. It works well for offering options but, at times, wouldn’t you prefer to hit a single key to make the selection rather than first fetching the mouse, then clicking?

Recent Question from a Reader:

Is there any way to improve the script in order to, once the menu appears, select an option using a given key combination?

For instance: If I typed “alt+1” AutoHotkey would automatically select the option “again”, if I typed “alt+2” it would select the option “a gin” and so on so forth until alt+0?

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Continue reading

Pasting Date Parts into Forms (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 4)

In Most Data Fields, You’ll Find It Simple to Paste Text or Numbers, But Inserting a Parsed Date Often Requires Extra Steps—Plus How to Change Date Paste Action Based on the Active Window Title

In the first three blogs of this RegEx series, I used Regular Expressions (RegEx) to identify and parse data prior to any paste operations. In this blog, I use a RegEx to identify and parse dates during the multi-part date paste operation. I use the previously introduced \d wild card (any numeric digit zero through nine) and the optional match modifier (the question mark ?), plus, I introduced how to create a selection list of possible matches by using a range of options (in this case, a forward slash, a dash, or a dot [/\-.] as date separators).

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Cover 200When working with forms, dates often use three separate data entry fields—one for the month, one for the day, and one for the year. (In the UK, they swap it around to day/month/year.) In some forms, you need to enter a forward slash (/) to jump to the next entry item. Sometimes the form automatically jumps to the next field after entering two digits. In many Web pages, you need to tab between each data entry area. Sometimes, sending the entire copied date as a single string works.

Since I wrote the MultiPaste.ahk script to respond to a particular personal finance program, I set it up to Send the date delimited with slashes. If you want to do something similar for a different software package or Web page, then you may need to tailor the script. This blog shows you how to do that. Continue reading