AutoHotkey Tip of the Week—Powerful RegEx Text Search Shorthand (~=)

AutoHotkey Provides an Abbreviated Regular Expression RegExMatch() Operator ( ~= ) for Quick Wildcard Text Matches

Regular Expressions (RegEx) can get confusing, but once understood, they pay tremendous dividends. Acting almost as another programming language, Regular Expressions in AutoHotkey provide a method for accomplishing complex search and/or replacement with only one line of code. While not impossible, doing the same thing without using RegEx often requires complex tricks and many lines of code. In the beginning, learning RegEx many feel daunting but you’ll find it well worth the journey.

Light Bulb!In spite of the initial learning curve, you don’t need to learn how the two primary AutoHotkey RegEx functions work (RegExMatch() and RegExReplace()) to make good use of a RegEx. The shorthand RegEx operator ( ~= ) provides a method for doing a complex string match without the limitations of the InStr() function. Regular Expressions search for patterns while the InStr() function searches for exact strings.

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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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Using GUI Checkbox Controls to Set Hotstring Options (AutoHotkey Technique)

AutoHotkey Hotstrings Use a String of Characters to Turn Options On and Off—GUI Checkbox Controls Offer a Visual Display for the Active Options along with a Method for Enabling/Disabling Each Feature

Previously (in “The Coming Instant Hotstring Script (AutoHotkey App)“), we reviewed the work still needed in the InstantHotstring.ahk script. This time we implement Hotstring options using the Hotstring() function.

Converting GUI (Graphical User Interface) Checkbox controls into Hotstring options codes (and back again) involves adept programming tricks. We use GUI windows and their controls to make applications user-friendly. People find it much easier to push discreet buttons and check separate boxes than work directly with often enigmatic programming codes. That means we must build a method for translating between the user-friendly input in a GUI window and the required code. Continue reading

Using the AutoHotkey Hotstring() Function to Disable/Enable Hotstrings

While the Hotstring() Function Won’t Delete Hotstrings, It Can Toggle Them Off and On (Disable and Re-Enable)

Technically, once created, you can’t delete a Hotstring without exiting the script. However, you can disable and enable its function. When you disable a Hotstring using the Hotstring() function, it loses its power—similar to the effect of deleting it. But, since the disabled Hotstring still exists, you can bring it back to life by re-enabling it with the same Hotstring() function. Continue reading

Save AutoHotkey Script Settings in Your Windows Registry

While You Can Use an External File to Save Your Script Defaults, You Can Also Call-on the Windows Registry to Store App Settings

In most cases, I’ve used a separate file (text or INI) to save settings. While this works well, it requires the creation and tracking of that independent file. For the script to read the settings, it must know where to locate that file. But, if you want to save script settings without the baggage of that extra file, then consider using your Windows Registry.

You’ll find a few advantages to maintaining your script settings in the Windows Registry:

  1. Unlike a separate settings file, you don’t need to keep track of the Windows Registry’s location—it never moves. Regardless of where you locate your AutoHotkey script on your computer, you will always find its settings in the exact same place.
  2. You won’t accidentally lose your settings by manually deleting what may seem like an extra file in Windows File Explorer.
  3. Your settings remain semi-hidden from public view in a semi-permanent form.

This approach to storing your script defaults deep inside the recesses of Windows adds an air of mystery to your apps—especially if you compile them into EXE files. Continue reading

Pressing GUI Buttons with a Single Keystroke (AutoHotkey Tip)

Sometimes We Find It Easier to Hit a Key Rather Than Click a Button

An AutoHotkey forum user posted a question about using Hotkeys to activate buttons in a GUI window. He wanted to hit the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4, rather than clicking the individual buttons—but only for the active GUI window.

hotkeycover200While I discuss similar isolation of Hotkeys to specific active windows in my Hotkeys book, this blog provided another opportunity to show how to add more functionality to your GUIs without infringing upon other programs or Hotkeys. I attempted to make the script as simple as possible by using a number of AutoHotkey tricks. Continue reading

Use the Ternary Operator to Create Conditional Case Statements or Switches (AutoHotkey Tip)

While AutoHotkey Does Not Include a Conditional Case Statement, You Can Build Your Own Using the Ternary Operator

Many programming languages include Case statements which act in a manner to similar a series of If…Else If…Else statements in an abbreviated form. The simplicity of the structure provides the primary benefit of offering a series of options in semi-list form Continue reading