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03 May

Productivity Guide: Save Time As A Writer, Affiliate Or Webmaster With AutoHotKey

Keith Lock May 16, 2013
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I considered recently the amount of time that it takes to perform certain tasks on the computer. I implemented a voice recognition app in order to help get tasks done faster and save the need to use the keyboard and mouse as much. I figured this technology, especially for writing blog posts and articles, was god send. Well, it required much more time to use, implement and correct than I hoped. Perhaps I have a mumbling problem or the thing just wasn’t listening but it didn’t help much with the small tasks at all for me. It helped with writing in some ways, but I still found there was a significant amount of correcting needed.

Macros Leave Nothing To Interpretaion – Scripts Are More Precise Than Voice Commands I Find

I love scripting and macros because for the most part they perform exactly as intended. While I’d rather speak to my computer and master that art, in the meantime I am using AutoHotKey to save me some keystrokes and much time. I am not doing the utility any justice by saying that it “saves keystrokes” because it does much more than that.

Esentially, the utlity can be used to reprogram any and all input devices on your computer to perform multiple tasks. And it also has the ability to react to automatic or deliberate actions on the computer. As a very basic, yet powerful example, AutoHotKey can detect an abbreviation such as “btw” in your writing and expand it to “by the way” on the fly.

I use a lot of HTML in my content so this “character expansion” feature is very helpful.

Very Basic Steps To Install AutoHotkey – Just Download And Run

The instructions below are meant for Windows users to install the free utility “AutoHotkey.”

1. Go to http://www.autohotkey.com/ (opens in new window)

2. Click the orange “Download AutoHotkey” button at the top right side of the page.

3. Locate the “AutoHotkey_L_Install” icon on your computer and double click it.

Note: Check your “Downloads” folder in your personal documents folder, or run a search for the file. I personally set my “downloads folder” to “Desktop” in my web browser to get faster access to my downloaded files.

4. Clicking “Yes” at the step where it asks if you want to allow the program to make changes to your computer is required to install the utility.

5. Click “Express Installation.”

6. Click “Run AutoHotkey.”

7. Click “Yes” to create and display the sample script.

Use The Default AHK File For Your Scripts To Keep It Simple

After clicking “Yes” in the final step above the utility will create a file called “AutoHotkey.ahk” in your Documents Library. While you can have many AHK files running, to keep it simple all you really need is that default file.

By default there is a command that, after pressing the Windows key with the letter “z” on the keyboard (Win+Z), the default web browser will launch (or a new tab will open in a currently opened browser) and go to the web site www.autohotkey.com.

To get an idea of how to perform common automation tasks such as sending keystrokes and mouse clicks, and to learn more about hotkeys, open the quick start tutorial. To gain access to the tutorial, go back to the “Installation Complete” screen and click “View the Tuturial,” or view the tutorial online.

You must close and then re-open AutoHotkey for it to load the default script file so that the commands become available.

Reload The AutoHotkey.ahk Script After Modification

Once AutoHotkey.ahk is open, the commands within it are available for use. After modifying the AutoHotkey.ahk text file, be sure to save it and reload it to make the newly added commands available. To do that, locate the green/white “H” icon in the tray (near the clock), right click it and click “Reload This Script.”

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