Autohotkey is useful. But I wouldn’t describe it as “awesome.”

Being a regular reader of Lifehacker, Autohotkey has been reviewed and featured over and over again in a lot of its articles which gradually created curiosity in me. At first, I was like, “eh, another tool on the PC.” Followed by, “Oh, maybe I could find a use for this.” and then, “I should try this once.”

And try, I did.

Autohotkey is a small scripting tool that creates keyboard shortcuts for different tasks and keystrokes you would normally do. It is made for your convenience such that you would hardly need to reach for that mouse and navigate your entire workspace with your keyboard, specially repetitive tasks that require you to input a lot of keystrokes.

But for the average user, it’s a pretty nice tool that doesn’t take up much system memory and makes working with a keyboard a little more convenient. I really didn’t need more keyboard shortcuts (since I’ve got most of the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V down pat :P) at work so I actually tried this more for the ‘scripting’ part. And so far, it sits quietly in the background everyday but I don’t put it on my Startup folder.

So, how do I use it?

1. My morning Startup. I used to launch programs individually in the morning: Firefox, Pidgin, and todotxt. I do mostly online stuff first before diving into real work, i.e. Excel, Virtual Machine, and Notepad++. So what I did was write a script that launches the 3 programs simultaneously depending on what mode I am on: work or leisure.

2. Activating windows. I am mostly online in my messenger window so a lot of people chat with me over Pidgin. And sometimes I get this great idea in the middle of a chat. So I dig through all of my open windows to look for a place to write it down. (yeah, pen-and-paper is so Middle Ages. :P) Now, with a keystroke, I bring a window to the front and type whatever I needed to write down. Better than Win/Alt-Tab, IMO (just for getting the task I want done. Effects are a different story.)

3. Signatures. Actually, this isn’t really that much in use right now since I don’t write email often. But I like the fact that I have different email signatures depending on whom I write to. And I don’t have to write the whole damn thing because Autohotkey completes it for me with just typing ‘worksig’ or ‘blogsig’ and voila! It has all the details I want on my signature. You can use it, too, for common mistyped words but I really don’t recommend that. It’s better to correct those things in real life than use a tool that corrects it for you.

So, with all these things described, why can’t I consider Autohotkey as “awesome”? Well, I’m really not sure. I think it didn’t affect my life that much. Yes, I welcome the convenience of being able to do things purely on the keyboard but I don’t think I really feel that I need it. Or perhaps I just haven’t dug deep enough for it to be ‘awesome’ yet. So right now, unless my work requires a lot of repetitive keystrokes and has saved me a whole lot of time, then perhaps I would consider it as really awesome.

Do you use or have Autohotkey? Want to give it a try? Tell me your feedback on the comments below. 🙂

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