Tuesday, 11 November 2008

oh, the joy of AUTOHOTKEY!!! joy joy joy!

Picture of AutoHotKey logo

I have recently become a huge fan of the scripting tool AutoHotKey, mainly because it makes me feel like a genius computer programmer after having only learned a few basic commands! (Note: I am not a genius programmer.)

The language itself is very simple to learn and the download even comes with a fantastically helpful compiled HTML help file, which means you have all of the help you will need saved on to your computer without having to fire up t'internet.

So what does it do?

Well, the scripts are pretty versatile and can be mostly used for automating tedious and repetitive tasks. I recently wrote a script that helped me re-label my MP3s because my MP3 player reads the 'album artist' tag as the artist name rather than the 'artist' tag, which was messy on my MP3 player...AutoHotKey to the rescue! Instead of manually relabelling each track, which takes roughly one minute per track, I wrote a script that copied the relevant information and re-pasted it in the correct tag field if I hovered over a track that needed editing and pressed F5. The new process takes less than 3 seconds, and when you consider that I had about 800 tracks to re-label, that is an amazing time saver!

I also wrote a script that makes some simple edits to photographs using GIMP and then re-saves them with a new filename. I did this because when I upload photos to Facebook, I generally go through the same motions for every picture...this is precisely what AutoHotKey lives for! My five minute photo editing routine for Facebook pics is now a 45 second routine, and if you're editing 60 photos that is bloomin' marvelous! An executable file, which is probably quite buggy, can be found HERE. Please read the "Read Me" file if you choose to download this program. I'll upload the AHK Script another day!

Basically AutoHotKey can do anything that you can do with a mouse and a keyboard...which is pretty much everything you can do with a computer full stop. The only drawback is that it can't make discerning judgements, so photo editing becomes automatic and generic rather than truly artistic, and it can't 'see' either, so if an area of the screen you want AutoHotKey to click doesn't contain what you thought it would, AHK will go ahead and click regardless.

You can think of AHK therefore as you would Lennie from Of Mice and Men: Brawn but no brains and incredibly loveable.

Disclaimer:AHK won't kill your puppy.

AutoHotKey can be downloaded HERE.
And the Lifehacker article that spurred my interest can be found HERE.

I will be posting my own scripts, including the ones mentioned above, in later posts! Something to look forward to!

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