Use the free AutoHotkey tool to create macros to perform tasks with a single keystroke
Whatever you use your computer for, there are undoubtedly going to be some things you do time and again. You might, for example, launch your word-processor program and then activate various preferred tools. Or perhaps you visit the same few websites every time you start your web browser.
With the right software, these repetitive actions can be recorded as a macro and played later with a simple keyboard shortcut – and Autohotkey is a free tool that does just that. It can record mouse and keyboard actions, and works throughout Windows, so you can automate tasks in almost any program. This workshop is challenging.
Launch a web browser, click the address bar and go to the AutoHotkey website. Click the Download link at the top of the page, then click the link labelled ‘Installer for AutoHotkey_L’. If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and choose a location for the file.
Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder. Locate and double-click the downloaded file. If Windows displays a Security Warning dialogue box, click Run to continue. Click Next, read the licence agreement and click Next.
If you have a 64-bit version of Windows installed, select the Unicode (64-bit) radio button, but otherwise – or if you are not sure – choose the Unicode (32-bit) option before clicking Next. On the next dialogue box, leave all the option boxes ticked and click Next.
Choose where the program should be installed and then click Next followed by the Install button. Work through the remainder of the wizard and click Finish at the end.
Launch the program by clicking the Start button followed by All Programs and then click the Autohotkey shortcut within the Autohotkey folder. A new icon will appear in the Notification Area. Right-click on an empty area of the Windows Desktop, or right-click within a folder, and select New followed by Autohotkey Script.
Type a name for the script, while ensuring you keep the ‘ahk’ file extension, and press Enter. We’re going to create a macro that launches the default web browser to display the BBC News website, so we’re going to name ours ‘website.ahk’.
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