Jack’s New Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey

Completely Rewritten, Jack’s New Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey Includes Peeks at AutoHotkey Version 2.0

In July of 2012, I first starting digging into AutoHotkey. Originally, I put AutoHotkey in the class of “just another Windows scripting language.” But as I delved deeper and deeper, I soon realized that it had assumed the mantle of probably “the best utility software to ever DeprecatedRobothit Windows.” Not only does AutoHotkey immediately automate many simple Windows tasks, but it includes the powerful commands and functions you might find in any programming language—and much more. Six years later, nothing has changed my mind. In fact, as I learn more about AutoHotkey through my blogging and books, I get even more convinced that AutoHotkey offers “absolutely the best free Windows utility software ever!”

Back then, while working with AutoHotkey, I recorded each step and passed along my insights to interested ComputorEdge readers. That created the genesis of my first beginning book. Afterall, I was a beginner myself. In reviewing that book for this new book, I scoured it with a much more experienced eye. I now offer insights which I lacked when I first ventured into AutoHotkey scripting. I wanted to ensure that this new book took advantage of my greater level of expertise. I completely rewrote the book to incorporate my additional years of AutoHotkey exposure. Plus, I now include samples of the parallel code for the coming AutoHotkey v2.0.

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You can find my new book, Jack’s New Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey, at ComputorEdge E-Books as a replacement for the old volume. If you previously purchased the old book through ComputorEdge E-Books or own one of the ComputorEdge AutoHotkey Libraries which includes the old Beginner’s Guide, you can get this new book free! (See below for details.)

This new Beginner’s Guide includes my first references to AutoHotkey V2.0 in a book.

A Peek at AutoHotkey Version 2.0

While AutoHotkey version 2.0 offers all the same capabilities as the current V1.1, it completely changes how you write the code. In fact, you can’t run V1.1 code with V2.0 (and vice versa). As a newbie, you might find this disconcerting. “Which version of AutoHotkey should I learn?” For now, in the new book, I continue to concentrate on V1.1—the current stable version and primary download at the AutoHotkey site. V2.0 is not yet ready for prime time. I don’t know when we might see a primary release of V2.0 and, even then, you can continue using V1.1 as long as you like. No one will force you into V2.0.

You ask, “Jack, if you don’t recommend using AutoHotkey V2.0 now, why include it in this book at all?” That’s an excellent question and one that I’ve wrestled with. It’s a dilemma.

Do I exclusively concentrate on V1.1 (as I have in the past) ignoring the current work toward the coming new version or do I offer a taste of V2.0 while continuing with my V1.1 writings? Although it might introduce some confusion into the book, I choose the latter approach and included samples of parallel V2.0 code.

It’s only fair to new users that I inform them of the major effort underway to produce a more consistent AutoHotkey package. As stated in the online documentation, “AutoHotkey v2 aims to improve the usability and convenience of the language and command set by sacrificing backward compatibility.” However, as I stated before, it’s not yet ready. (For the curious, you can play with the alpha version of AutoHotkey V2.0 by following the steps in my blog, “How to Fool Around with the New AutoHotkey Version 2.0.”) Plus, you lose nothing by learning how to write AutoHotkey V1.1 scripts. Therefore, you have multiple options when reading this book.

If you’re brand new to AutoHotkey (and any other form of programming), then I suggest that you ignore all the comments and code in the book referring to AutoHotkey V2.0. You don’t need it now and it could act as a source of confusion. I tried to clearly mark all V2.0 snippets making it understood that you should only use them when playing exclusively with the alpha version of 2.0. (Maybe later you will return to reference the new code.)

If you already feel proficient in the basics of AutoHotkey and don’t need an introductory book, the parallel V2.0 code examples in this book offer you a quick glimpse into how AutoHotkey might change. I won’t pretend that the change to V2.0 won’t take some work. These examples may help you decide if its worth the effort.

While Jack’s New Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey represents my first foray into adding V2.0 to my books. I plan to eventually update all of my volumes with both demonstrations of the new code and the benefit of my accumulated AutoHotkey experience. However, since it took me six years to write the current library, the new editions of the other books won’t happen overnight. I intend to proceed methodically.

Fortunately, if you previously purchased one of those older books (or an AutoHotkey Library which includes one of these books) from ComputorEdge E-Books, you will get the new version absolutely free. As with this new Beginner’s Guide, each new book will replace the download in your original ComputorEdge E-Books order.

ComputorEdge AutoHotkey Library Members! How to Get Your Free Book!

If at any time you purchased the old version of A Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey (or an AutoHotkey Library which includes the old book) from ComputorEdge E-Books, then you can get a copy of Jack’s New Beginner’s Guide to AutoHotkey free. Access your downloads with the original download e-mail you received when you first purchased the book or library. The same link for the original book now downloads the new book. “But, what if I lost the e-mail or ran out of downloads?” (The first download link included two downloads.)

Use the AutoHotkey Library Membership Request Form at this site to submit your name, e-mail address, and ComputorEdge E-Books invoice number to request additional downloads for that book.

While the price of the book has increased, the price for both the Starter Library and Complete Library has not change—at least for now. That means the current discount for becoming an AutoHotkey Library Member has just gotten bigger. (We intend to maintain this short-term bundle pricing policy when first releasing any of the other future updates of our current books. The price of a Library Bundle will only increase a reasonable period of time after publishing the update or when we add new, previously unpublished books to the library.)

Remember: As an AutoHotkey Library Member, you don’t pay full price for any newly published book, but only the discounted amount for adding it to a library. See “Jack’s AutoHotkey E-Book Library” for additional membership benefits.

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