Software Tool of the Week - AutoHotKey

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AutoHotKey is one of those tools that you'll use and then in a year you'll wonder how you ever got along without it. At heart, AutoHotKey is a scripting language that let's you automate tasks, assign keyboard shortcuts, and launch programs

Wikipedia lists several common tasks people use AutoHotKey:

  • Remapping the keyboard, such as from QWERTY to Dvorak or other alternative keyboard layouts.
  • Using shortcuts to fill in frequently-used file names or other phrases.
  • Controlling the mouse cursor with a keyboard or joystick.
  • Opening programs, documents, and websites with simple keystrokes.
  • Adding a signature to e-mail, message boards, etc.
  • Monitoring a system and automatically closing unwanted programs.
  • Scheduling an automatic reminder, system scan, or backup.
  • Automating repetitive tasks in online games (often in violation of said games' terms of service).
  • Filling out contest and freebie forms automatically (i.e., it can type in your name, address, etc. automatically).
  • Quick code testing before implementing in another (more time consuming) programming language.

I have a simple AutoHotKey script that helps imitate media keys. My keyboard doesn't have the ability to turn the volume up, volume down, next track, etc. It's so easy for me to skip to the next track in my Spotify playlists. Also, if someone walks into my office or my phone rings, I can immediately mute my sound without reaching for the knob on my speakers.

Here's the simple code:

;media keys
^!Left::Send   {Media_Prev}
^!Down::Send   {Media_Play_Pause}
^!Right::Send  {Media_Next}
+^!Left::Send  {Volume_Down}
+^!Down::Send  {Volume_Mute}
+^!Right::Send {Volume_Up}
  • Ctrl+Alt+LeftArrow to go to the previous track
  • Ctrl+Alt+RightArrow to go to the next track
  • Ctrl+Alt+DownArrow to pause
  • Ctrl+Shift-Alt+LeftArrow to lower volume
  • Ctrl+Shift-Alt+RightArrow to increase volume
  • Ctrl+Shift-Alt+DownArrow to mute volume

There's also a section in my script that allows you to search google from any application. Highlight a term, and instead of copying and pasting it into a browser, press Ctrl+Shift+C and it will automatically search google for that phrase using your default web browser!

To get started with AutoHotKey, check out this beginner's guide.

If you use AutoHotKey and have a favorite script, leave a comment and let me know.

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