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10 Ways to Use AutoHotKey to Rock Your Keyboard

10 Ways to Use AutoHotKey to Rock Your Keyboard
AutoHotKey

If you are into productivity on your computer, you probably already use your keyboard and its shortcuts as much as possible. And if you’re on Windows, you’ve probably also check out the awesome potential of AutoHotKey, which can make your keyboard hum like nobody’s business.

But most people haven’t tapped into the true power of AHK, and explored all the ways it can turn the keyboard into a productivity machine.

For Mac users, you already have the fantabulously wonderful Quicksilver, and if that doesn’t completely meet your needs, try TypeIt4Me for text expansion.

To learn more about setting up AHK scripts, text expansion, shortcut keys, macros and more, see this tutorial.

Here are 10 ways to use AutoHotKey to rock your keyboard:

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1. Multiple sigs. If you use different signatures for work, personal use, blogging, etc., use AHK’s super handy text replacement feature to make shortcuts for each sig. For example, I have wsig and wsig2 for my two different work signatures, bsig for my blog signature, and psig and psig2b for my two different personal signatures. Type in 3 or 4 keystrokes, and it automatically expands to your full signature.

Example:
::wsig::Your Name{enter}Your Title{enter}Your Company Name{enter}Your Contact Info

2. Favorite folders. Do you open a few folders several times a day? End the endless double-clicking by setting up shortcuts to your favorite folders. I have about 5 folders I use every day, and their shortcuts save me loads of time. The following example sets up the Windows key + 0 to open a folder (the “#” symbol stands for Windows key in AHK scripting language).

Example:
#0::Run C:\Documents and Settings\YourUsername\My Documents\YourFolder\YourSubfolder

3. Websites. Do you have favorite sites or pages that you go to numerous times a day? We all do. While Firefox has a great keyword bookmarking feature, AHK’s shortcut keys are even faster. I have about 10 sites set up for all my favorite web pages.

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Example:
#l::Run http://www.lifehack.org

4. App launcher. Throw away your favorite app launcher. AHK eliminates the need for a separate program for launching applications, because you can tie any application to any keyboard shortcut.

Example:
#f::Run Firefox

5. Common documents. You’re starting to see the theme here. Any documents you use often, such as a letter template or certain spreadsheets, can also be given shortcuts.

Example:
#4::Run C:\Documents and Settings\YourUsername\My Documents\YourFolder\Letter.doc

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6. Common emails. If you type a lot of the same emails, day in and day out, set up simple text expansion scripts (such as the signature example above) and put in the text of your common emails. See this article for more info.

7. Autocorrect in any application. Blogger Jim Biancolo used Wikipedia’s list of the most common misspellings as a starting point to create this script, which autocorrects your misspelled words as you type — in any application. He added to the list the autocorrected words in Microsoft Word, plus a bunch of his own common misspellings. Very handy.

8. Quick Google or Wikipedia searches. Again, Firefox has the very cool smart keyword search feature, but AHK can put your common searches in any app. Highlight the work, press you hotkey, and voila! The following scripts allow the user to search for a particular word or phrase using Google or Wikipedia. After selecting the text from any application, pressing the configurable hotkey (Win + g for Google search, Win + w for Wikipedia) will open the default browser and perform the search.

Example:
#g:: Send, ^c Run, http://www.google.com/search?q=%Clipboard% Return
#w:: Send, ^c Run, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%Clipboard% Return

9. Blogging markup. If you do a lot of blogging or html coding, you know that typing html codes or having to press buttons to put the codes in can be very repetitive. Automate it by having AHK automatically type the beginning and ending codes for you. Then all you gotta do is write great content. Adam Pash compiled a handy little script for bloggers here.

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10. Use Insert for Clipboard tool. I don’t know about you, but I never use the Insert key — in fact, it just messes me up. Biancolo did this little script to remap the Insert key to give it some super-useful functionality: it adds whatever you have highlighted to the clipboard.

For even cooler scripts, see this list for ways to configure or enhance your keyboard.

What are your favorite ways of using AHK? Let us know in the comments.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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