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Free Windows Hotkey Macros Posted on Tuesday, February 19 2008
Learn to Play Songs by Ear: Ear Training

The title sounds a bit scary, but macros are actually very easy to use and incredibly useful, best of all the greatest ones are free! No programming or advanced knowledge is needed to use them. Basically it allows you to perform a variety of tasks automatically just by pressing keyboard combinations. You define your own keyboard shortcuts. There's no limit to what you can do.

Here are some simple examples that can benefit the majority of people and hopefully will spark some interest. Ideas will come to you as the concept becomes clear and you'll wonder how you ever got around without it.

Simple Examples what Macros can do

  • I want to increase the volume by clicking ctrl+Up, Ctrl+down will lower it.
  • Clicking ctrl+right will play the next song on my music player.
  • Clicking ctrl+alt+m will open my favorite website
  • I want to open a combination of websites all at one keypress
  • Windows key+z opens my favorite text editor
  • Simulate mouse clicks for programs that require repetitive tasks.

Basically, hitting a key combination will perform a task, or several tasks at the same time. Note that when I say somekey+somekey the plus indicates that you're holding down the previous key. Hopefully you're salivating to learn more and hoping it's easy to do. There are several quick macros you can choose from.

Comparison of Macros

Summary
  • Hoykeybind: Very easy to start out.
  • Autohotkey: Commands based on text files using a special syntax. Reading documentation is required, but many more possibilities.
  • AutoIt: Powerful like autohotkey,
  • Winkey: No longer in development. Open a file or folder using a windows key combination.
Commercial Software
  • Macro Magic and Macro Express: Both have macro recorders and many builtin features.
  • Dragon Naturally Pro: Voice activated programmable macros based on visual basics.

HotKeyBind - Free, Simple, and Open Source

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If you want simplicity, hotkeybind is the best. It's easily the easiest to get started with and has many built in features. Download it here.

Making a quick key
  1. Double click the icon in the shell tray
  2. Click "Add"
  3. Select an action you want to take
  4. Set the quick keys for it just by typing them
  5. Done! Close the preferences window and use it.

Notes / Recommendations

  • While the preferences window is open no commands will run.
  • Under the Other tab. Uncheck the box that says show hotkey registration errors. Check the box that says Do not show OSD.

Registration errors occur when another program has already claimed the quick key you're trying to set. Having it nag about it every time it opens is annoying. Disabling the on screen display makes insert text operations infinitely faster.

AutoHotKey - Coders Machine Gun

pic

For the hardcore developers and efficiency obsessed technophilliacs AutoHotKey rules. Autohotkey is your chainsaw in a forest of rabid aids infected apes. It makes even the most complicated of situations enjoyable, just macro the fuck out it! I learned fast that it's the simple inconveniences that really prevent people from taking steps towards progress. Automating even the smallest task saves tons of time cumulatively. I wouldn't say it's for everyone though. It requires you reference their incredibly detailed documentation to really become fluent and advance in it. Those unwilling to invest time in a macro and need a GUI based editor should stay away. AutoHotkey is highly worth the time! Download it here.

Noteworthy Features

Winkey

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I add this mostly for nostalgia purposes. Winkey was my first macro *tear*. Made in 2001, it's very efficient and simple. Download it here.

Autoit3

It's very much like autohotkey but closed source. Autohotkey has more features so I'll support it whole heartedly over autoit. Auto it has several example files it installs into your program files directory. Download it here.

Commercial Macro Software

Macro Express and Keyboard Express

Great macro recorder and many features. Free trial available. It's like hotkeybind except much more advanced.

Macro Magic

Very similar to macro express. If you're looking for a simplified macro recorder it's not bad. Not near as many features as autohotkey and it has some serious stability issues. On loops it sometimes has memory leaks and infinitely increases in ram consumption until crashing. The newest version seems to crash my firefox whenever I open it.

Dragon Naturally Pro

Aside from it costing assloads of moneys, it uses visual basics, which has a notoriously horrible syntax for causing bad habits in programmers. Dragon naturally is mainly a text to speech engine, however its macro is fully featured and fully programmable...if you're good at disgusting visual basics. The main appeal is the laziness of just having to say phrases instead of hit quick keys in order to activate your sets of codes which is much more convenient than having to memorize loads of quick keys. It's speech recognition is far from perfect, even after training it extensively. A great $50+ headset helps. In the end it's not very practical. Leaving your computers mic on all the time makes it accidentally pickup things it thinks you said, all the while eating resources. Visual basics isn't known to be of much efficiency either.

What I use

I started out with winkey a long time ago then I started using macro magic. I later also picked up hotkeybind for it's laziness. Autohotkey is actually quite a bit more recent and in active development. I ditched macro magic and started using autohotkey as soon as I saw how convenient it was. Hotkeybind can also stack commands, just put them in a windows batch file.

Windows Batch File Tutorial


Example of Max Laziness.

I use foobar 2000 as my mp3 player. It allows you to set global hotkeys to control the music no matter what program you're currently in. I occasionally get sick of songs and decide I don't want to hear them again. Foobar 2000 has a delete operation, and I set a hotkey for it, however, it deletes what's currently selected, not what's currently playing, and it prompts you before deletion. What's worse, if the song is currently playing it will fail to delete.

In summary, I need several quick keys to: select the currently playing song, stop it from playing, delete it, move left and click enter to confirm delete, play another song, and minimize the player to go back what I was working on. What a hassle!

Autohotkey comes to the rescue.

SetTitleMatchMode RegEx

^!7::
IfWinExist, foobar2000
{
WinActivate
Send {ctrl down}{shift down}{alt down}asd
ClipWait, 1
Send {left}{enter}{shift up}{right down}{right up}{ctrl up}{alt up}
WinMinimize
return
}

With ctrl+alt+7 it does everything needed at the same time. Here's a summary of what each line does.

SetTitleMatchMode RegEx

The above sets it so the title of the file doesn't have to be an exact match.

^!7::

The above sets ctrl+alt+7 as the quick key.

IfWinExist, foobar2000
{

If a program with the title foobar2000 exists continue to run everything between the brackets.

WinActivate

Focus the window

Send {ctrl down}{shift down}{alt down}asd

Hold down ctrl+shift+alt+a+s+d. This activates all 3 quick keys I set to be the ones for: focus on the current item, stop playing, delete.

ClipWait, 1

Wait 1 second for the window prompting me if I want to delete to appear, before continuing.

Send {left}{enter}{shift up}{right down}{right up}{ctrl up}{alt up}

Click left, then enter to go to the "YES, I want to delete" part and accept it. I release the shift key then hit the right arrow. Ctrl and alt are still down, so it activates my play next song quick key ctrl+alt+right. The rest releases the other keys.

WinMinimize

Minimize the player.

return
}

Finishes the code.

Ending Note

In the extremely rare chance someone actually read through all of this shit. Thanks for listening.




Tags: autoit vs autohotkey vs hotkeybind, windows macros, runescape macro, silkroad, silkraod, automation, wow, world of warcraft, unreal, warcraft, macro magic vs macro express, foobars2000, foobars 2000, foobar2000 delete file hotkey



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