10 Essential AutoHotkey Scripts to Simplify Your Workflow on Windows

Automate trivial tasks on Windows

by: - Last updated on: April 19th, 2021

Key Takeaways

  • AutoHotkey is a one-stop solution to automate all the mundane and repetitive tasks on Windows.
  • With AHK, you can either use pre-made scripts from other users or create your own script to perform specific operations/tasks on your computer.
  • AutoHotkey can be used to automate recycling Recycle Bin, remap broken keys, re-purpose function keys, and expand text, among others.

AutoHotkey is a free and open-source tool for all your automation needs on Windows. It’s the closest thing to Automator, which is a personal automation tool available on the Mac. AutoHotkey relies on the AutoHotkey scripting language and offers you the ability to create custom scripts and shortcuts, remap keys, and even build macros for different actions on your system.

AutoHotkey scripts

To give you an idea of its applications, with AutoHotkey, you can create hotkeys to bind actions with keys; use hotstrings to expand abbreviations or scripted actions; create functions to bunch together several commands; among other things. Not just that, the scope of use extends even further as you get experienced with the scripting language and the tool itself.

So, if you’re just getting started with AutoHotkey or are looking for AutoHotkey scripts, here are some AutoHotkey scripts you can use to simplify your workflow on Windows.

Essential AutoHotkey Scripts

There are two ways to go about using AutoHotkey scripts: you can either use the user-created scripts available on different forums or create your own script if you can’t find one to suit your purpose. We’ve already covered the basics of AutoHotkey, so make sure you check that out before to have an understanding of AutoHotkey.

1. Remap a Key

In the event that you have an unresponsive or broken key on your keyboard, you can use AutoHotkey to map it to a different key so that you can continue to use your keyboard till you get it fixed. To remap a key, enter the command in the following syntax: CapsLock::Shift. Here, we’re remapping the CapsLock key to function as the Shift key. You can replace the keys to fit your purpose.

2. Clear Recycle Bin

On Windows, when you delete a file (not Shift + Delete), it goes into the system’s Recycle Bin. As time goes on, you need to clear the Recycle Bin to avoid unnecessary use of disk space. If you have AutoHotkey on your computer, you can do this more efficiently — with just a hotkey (key shortcut). For this, all you need to do is create a file and add the following line: ^Del::FileRecycleEmpty. We’ve used Ctrl + Del as the keyboard shortcut, but you’re free to use your preferred key combination.

Note: Essential AutoHotkey character references you need to know:

  • ^ – Ctrl
  • # – Windows
  • ! – Alt
  • + – Shift

3. Open a Website/Favorite Folder Quickly

If there are certain websites that you need to open often, as part of your workflow or otherwise, it’s wise to simplify and automate this step. With AutoHotkey, you can do this with just a single line of code. For this, create an AHK script file with the following code: !G::Run chrome.exe https://www.google.com, and save it with the .ahk extension. Our command opens Google upon clicking Alt + G, but you can use it to open any website on any browser you want.

Just like the above script, you can also create one to set a hotkey that opens your frequently-visited folders. To do this, create a file with the following command: !D::Run “C:\Users\Dell\Downloads”. Make sure to change the shortcut and the folder path to that of what you want to open in your script. To find the path to a folder, right-click on it and go into Properties.

4. Search for Item in Clipboard

When you need to look something up on the internet, you normally type it (query) or copy it into the browser. Using AutoHotkey, however, you can simplify the process to save yourself a few steps. For this, create an AutoHotkey script and add the following line of code: !G::Run chrome.exe https://www.google.com/search?q=%clipboard%. What this script will essentially do is pull up a Google search for the item in your clipboard. So all you have to do is copy what you want to lookup on the internet and press the trigger shortcut.

5. Auto-Correct Text

Most smartphone keyboards these days have an auto-correct feature built-in that corrects misspelled words automatically. In contrast, though, computers don’t provide such a feature. However, as is the case with most missing features and functionality, AutoHotkey stands in to fill the void with scripts. In this regard, there is the AutoCorrect script that has corrections for over 7000 words, including contractions for some of the commonly-used words, to correct your misspelled words.

Get AutoCorrect Script

6. Insert Special Characters Quickly

Special characters, especially the Alt keyboard sequences such as trademark, copyright, etc., require you to use modifier keys to be typed out. Generally speaking, most of these character access shortcuts are not practically accessible and can cause inconvenience. But thanks to AutoHotkey, you can create hotkeys (custom shortcuts) — that you can remember — for the special characters you often use to insert them conveniently and quickly. Here’s an example hotkey: !C::SendInput {©}, where we’ve created an Alt + C shortcut to enter the copyright symbol.

7. Re-purpose Function Keys

Function keys are essentially shortcuts that offer a convenient way to perform certain actions on your computer. However, most of the time, a lot of these keys go unused. If that’s the case with you, too, you can use AutoHotkey to repurpose the unused function keys on your keyboard. For instance, you can assign a function key to run your frequently-used app/program on your computer. To repurpose a key, use the following command: F3:: Run “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”. Replace the function key and the program to fit your specific requirement.

8. Find Items from Start Menu Quickly

The Start Menu offers an easy way to locate programs and folders on your Windows computer. But, if you have too many programs and folders on your computer, it can sometimes get difficult to find items from the Start Menu. For such situations, there is the Seek AutoHotkey script, which allows you to set a hotkey to filter out the matching programs and folders on your computer so that you can easily find your program/folder from a handful of presented options.

Get Seek Script

9. Always Keep a Window on Top

With multiple programs running on your computer, you may sometimes find the need to have one of them running all the time, so you can work with it/be informed on its updates. With AutoHotkey, it’s possible to do it with a simple shortcut. For this, create an AutoHotkey script with the following line of code: !CapsLock::Winset, Alwaysontop, , A, and save it. Now, when you want to keep a window running on top, select it, and press the shortcut you added to the script.

10. Expand Text

If you write code or respond to a lot of emails/conversations, you’ll often find yourself repeating some staple lines over and over. On Windows, you can avoid having to type such texts repeatedly using a script. So create a .ahk file and add the following line of code: ::hhig::Hello, how’s it going?. Our code replaces hhig with Hello, how’s it going?. You can, of course, replace it with some other custom abbreviation. In fact, you can populate the file with all the abbreviations you use/plan to use.

Bonus Script

Although you want to avoid key shortcut conflicts with other programs when assigning key shortcuts to actions in AutoHotkey scripts, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid them. And therefore, the best thing to do at such times is to temporarily suspend AutoHotkey: you can do this manually from the system tray (or tray menu). However, since we’re using AutoHotkey, let’s create a script to do it for us. For this, add the following line of code: !CapsLock::Suspend to an AHK script and save it. Feel free to replace the shortcut key with the one you prefer.

Making the Most of AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a great tool to automate the tedious and repetitive tasks in your workflow. So if you’re a Windows user, we highly recommend using AutoHotkey and leveraging the power of its scripts to perform operations/actions more efficiently on your system. You can find a whole host of AutoHotkey content over at AutoHotkey’s website, along with in-depth guides on different functions to start creating your own complex scripts for automating system operations.

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