AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: Use ToolTips to Make Apps User-Friendly—August 26, 2019

Tip: By Applying the OnMessage() Function, You Can Include Windows ToolTip Notes in Your AutoHotkey GUI Window Scripts to Add Hints and/or Instructions Which Pop-up When Mousing-Over the Controls

Light Bulb!People might find some cleverly-designed AutoHotkey scripts confusing. Wouldn’t you like to add hints and tips which explain each control in your AutoHotkey GUI window? You can do just that with the ToolTip command and the OnMessage() function.

coverepub-250In the book AutoHotkey Applications, “Chapter Thirty-four: Pop-up Labels for All Your Programs (ToolTip Command)”, the Tooltip command highlights each control in an AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) window. Use the ToolTip command to add helpful little informational notes to your AutoHotkey applications. Once you implement this tip, whenever you hover the mouse cursor over controls in an AutoHotkey GUI, the ToolTip command will identify the control’s function or give instant instructions (as shown below).

(Extra Tip: You can use this same technique with other non-AutoHotkey Windows application by identifying window and control names with Windows Spy or the WindowProbe.ahk script, then writing a short companion AutoHotkey script to work with the Windows program.)

ToolTipHelp
An AutoHotkey GUI shows three different ToolTips as the cursor is moved over each control.

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AutoHotkey Tip of the Week: How to Combine Multiple Scripts into One—August 19, 2019

Design Your Scripts to Either Run as Stand-alone Apps or Use the #Include Directive to Integrate into a Master Script without Modification

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The cool thing about this tip is that, after you implement these techniques—without any additional changes—you can run your AutoHotkey script as an independent app or quickly add it to a master script. 

In “Chapter Eleven: How to Write Easy-Merge AutoHotkey Scripts” from the book Beginning Tips for Writing AutoHotkey Scripts, I outline steps for writing scripts which easily combine with other scripts without conflict. This allows the AutoHotkey user to run multiple apps without needing to launch each script individually. (It also prevents the accumulation of numerous AutoHotkey icons in the Windows System Notification Tray.) If you employ these basic design tips when writing your apps you’ll find that you don’t need to do any rewrites when combining useful scripts. Continue reading

Username and Password Protection in AutoHotkey

While You Won’t Find Absolute Password Protection, There Are a Number of Techniques Available to Help Hide Your Secrets

Computer security is one of the major issues of these times. How do we protect our data? Even after all of the latest innovations in cybersecurity, we hear about hacks of major sites and institutions. With all the ways we use today’s computers, we want to feel as safe as possible.

Caution: Human error (e.g. opening the wrong attachment, not changing passwords, etc.) offers the number one opportunity for the bad guys to invade your privacy. If someone gains access to your computer, then you have virtually no protection. Some people either don’t add a password to their Windows computer or allow autologin when the machine boots up. That’s a mistake! Always require password login to access your Windows computer. Otherwise, you make it too easy for people who stumble upon your computer—either in your office or cyberspace. Continue reading

When to Rewrite Your AutoHotkey Scripts

AutoHotkey Scripting Philosophy or Speeding Up the InstantHotstring.ahk script

“Before you can fix a problem you must understand it. Before you can understand a problem you must fix it.”

Sounds like a chicken/egg problem, but I assure you it isn’t. You only begin to understand a problem when you start working on a solution. As you grind through a script, you develop a deep awareness of its inner workings. I encourage any AutoHotkey novice to jump into a new script with both feet—even if you don’t think you know what you’re doing.

Sitting around and speculating about possible answers to a question often serves as mental thumb-twiddling. You must start somewhere—anywhere. Until you actually dig into it and undertake the work, you will never truly comprehend the obstacles and pitfalls associated with implementing a fix. You’ll find this singularly true when writing AutoHotkey scripts— especially as a beginner. The answer to the question “Where do I start?” is “Anywhere!” Continue reading

Formatting Fonts and Colors in AutoHotkey GUI Window Controls

Guidelines for Setting Text Styles in AutoHotkey GUI (Graphical User Interface) Controls—You Can Make Your GUI Windows Easier to Read by Changing the Text Font and/or Color of Individual Controls

While AutoHotkey doesn’t offer the same detail control of color, font, and text style that you get in graphics programs, you can enhance your GUI pop-up windows with well-placed style changes. But to get the most from your adjustments, you need to understand how AutoHotkey executes these modifications.
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AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems (Scripting Insights)

When Debugging AutoHotkey Script Speed Problems, Look at Loops First

A number of scripting techniques can cause apps to run slowly. These slowdowns might occur when running long loops, doing extensive searches, or making numerous hard drive reads and writes. But the primary culprit tends to hide within loops or redundant operations of any type. However, you may need to look deeper to find the real source of the problem.

Tip: If you like to keep numerous other programs open, then that alone can cause significant slowing as your computer shares processing time. For example, Google Chrome runs an independent process for each browser tab. Multiple Google Chrome tabs can put a heavy load on the CPU and memory causing delays in any other apps. To optimize time tests, minimize interference by closing all other programs.

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Loading Hotstrings into the InstantHotstring.ahk Script from Any AutoHotkey (.ahk) File

Reading Data from a Saved .AHK Files Makes Loading Hotstrings into the InstantHotstring.ahk Script Easy

In the blog, “Use the FileSelectFile Command to Save Instant Hotstrings to an AutoHotkey File.” I discussed how to save a set of newly created InstantHotstring.ahk Hotstrings in .ahk files. The other half of the file storage problem involves reading those saved (or any other) Hotstring data files back into that same app. Using the tools already built into the script made writing the file loading code remarkably easy. The subroutine LoadHotstrings calls on the previously written subroutines SetOptions and AddHotstring. This saves replicating of code originally used in those subroutines.

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