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: 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

Fixed the InstantHotstring.ahk Script Slow Hotstring Loading Problem

New Version of InstantHotstring.ahk Script Now Available!

I’ve rewritten the LoadHotstrings subroutine in the InstantHotstring.ahk script (alternate download) to overcome the slowdown created by using the pre-existing routines found in the original script, “AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems (Scripting Insights).” I simplified things by limiting the subroutine to:

  1. Adding Hotstrings directly from the file without extra processing—no interaction with the DropDownList GUI control.)
  2. Checking for duplicated or changed Hotstrings within a single variable.
  3. Activating each Hotstring as its added.

AutoHotkey exports the DropDownList GUI control contents just once into a single variable and only writes the new DropDownList after processing the entire target file. The test file of over 1000 Hotstrings loads in one to two seconds—depending upon the weather. (The old routine could take up to 70 seconds for that same file.)

You can find the new code (InstantHotstring(FastLoad).ahk) and the old code (InstantHotstring(SlowLoad).ahk) at the InstantHotstring.ahk section of the ComputorEdge Free AutoHotkey Scripts page.

I’m currently working on blogs which discuss both the philosophical and technical aspect of rewriting the subroutine.

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(Any other mistakes are all mine.)

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AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems (Scripting Insights)

When Debugging AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems, Look at Loops First

A number of scripting techniques can cause apps to run slowly. These slowdowns might occur when running long loops, doing extensive searches, or making numerous hard drive reads and writes. But the primary culprit tends to hide within loops or redundant operations of any type. However, you may need to look deeper to find the real source of the problem.

Tip: If you like to keep numerous other programs open, then that alone can cause significant slowing as your computer shares processing time. For example, Google Chrome runs an independent process for each browser tab. Multiple Google Chrome tabs can put a heavy load on the CPU and memory causing delays in any other apps. To optimize time tests, minimize interference by closing all other programs.

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Timing Script Speed (AutoHotkey Quick Tip)

Certain Types of Subroutines Tend to Eat Up Time (Loops, On Screen Changes, Multiple Drive Accesses, etc.)—Use This Simple Timer Routine to Figure Out How to Increase AutoHotkey Script Speed

Anytime you use AutoHotkey to make iterative changes in the controls in a GUI (Graphical User Interface) pop-up window, force multiple access to hard drive files, or implement repetitious subroutines (almost always with some form of a loop), you run the risk of slowing down your scripts. Minor changes to your script can make a significant difference in how fast it runs. Continue reading