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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.

More by this author

Leo Babauta

Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

The Gentle Art of Saying No How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials A Guide to Becoming a Better Writer: 15 Practical Tips

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain

15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of contiuous learning:

1. Always have a book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

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3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

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6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

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Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

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13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15 .Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

In fact, you can train your brain to crave lifelong learning! Here’s how to become a lifelong learner:

How to Train Your Brain to Crave Lifelong Learning (And Why It’s Good)

More Resources About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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