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.


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.

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AutoHotkey Tips of the Week: The ComObjCreate() Function for Web Page Downloads, E-Mail, and Text Audio

While AutoHotkey Directly Supports Most Windows Features, the Flexibility of the ComObjCreate() Function Adds More Useful Capabilities—Especially for Capturing Web Data, Sending E-mail, and Reading Text Out-Loud

A number of my scripts use the ComObjCreate() function in various forms. Most of them I copied from the AutoHotkey Forums and modified for my own purposes. In this blog, I highlight the ComObjCreate() applications I use most, then offer a list of other forms of the function you may find useful.

How I Use ComObjCreate()

Synonym Page
The SynonymLookup.ahk script pulls replacement terms for the highlighted word “Page” from the Web.

While AutoHotkey supports many of these features in one form or another, directly accessing the COM (Component Object Model) might provide a solution you can get by no other method. I use the ComObjCreate() function in three ways:

  1. Collect data from Web pages (ComObjCreate(“WinHttp.WinHttpRequest.5.1”)).
  2. Send e-mail directly from an AutoHotkey script (ComObjCreate(“CDO.Message”))—no mail program required.
  3. Use the computer voice to read text (ComObjCreate(“SAPI.SpVoice”)).

While I haven’t found much additional information about the ComObjCreate() function posted on the new AutoHotkey forum, the old forum contains a useful COM Object reference list. You don’t need to know how they work—just how to use them. 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

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: 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: 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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Total the Numbers Found in Any Document (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 5)

For a Quick-and-Dirty Calculator, Use Regular Expressions (RegEx) to Pull Numbers from Documents or Web Pages and Total Them Up—Plus, a RegEx for Removing (or Extracting) Numeric IP Addresses

Shifting gears, I end the discussion of the MultiPaste.ahk script which parses copied data into component parts for easier paste operations into other documents. With this blog, I start working on another tool for simplifying a Windows task—addition.

Sometimes I see a list of numbers in either a document or a Web page which I would like to quickly total without loading a separate calculator. For example, the shopping cart program I use for my book sales offers a summary table of all recent sales. While I can use a reports section of the site to get more information (e.g. monthly sales), I want a tool to quickly highlight the desired entries and give me the total of the individual sales. To do that I use a Regular Expression (RegEx) specifically for extracting those sales numbers. 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

Removing Excess Tabs and Spaces with RegEx Greed (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 3)

After Parsing Selected Table Data or One-Line Street Addresses for Unique Paste Operations, We Prevent Blank Paste Items from Appearing in the MsgBox Window by Using RegEx Greed to Remove Any Extra Tab Characters

In the first two parts of this series, I introduced a couple of common Regular Expressions (RegEx) wild cards for finding unknown characters (the needle) in a larger string of text (the haystack). In “Finding US Zip Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 1),” I discussed the \d expression (representing any single numeric digit) which you can also identify with the range [0-9] or the expression set (0|1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9).

In “Finding UK Postal Codes (AutoHotkey RegEx Tips Part 2),” I introduced the wild card \w as the RegEx symbol for matching any alphanumeric character (upper or lower case) and the ten digits (plus underline mark)—the equivalent of the range [a-zA-Z0-9_]. In both blogs, I used the /s wild card to locate a space in front of either the US zip code or UK postal code.

This time I use \s in combination with `t to remove extra tab delimiters (e.g.`t`t) which insert blank lines in the MultiPaste.ahk script’s MsgBox command window.

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