Tech Language logo

Some advantages of the Windows macro scripting program AutoHotKey

Years ago, I started using the free Windows macro program AutoHotKey. The tool can be used in several different ways, and I'm using only a tiny fraction of its capabilities.

It's particular useful to save time when typing. For example, as a shortcut to obtain longer words or phrases, or to enter characters that are not available using a standard keyboard. These instructions are defined as lines in an AHK script file that runs at startup. A typical command looks like this:

  ::sma::Steven Marzuola

Whenever I type the "word" "sma", followed by any key that is not another letter, it is instantly deleted and replaced with my name.

Another one:


Whenever I type "delta#" (including the # character), it is converted to the Greek letter Δ.

Click here for a sample text file containing some commands I've found useful.

After adding several dozen commands in recent months, my writing style is changing. Having these characters means that I use them more, not only in translations but in other writing, such as social media and correspondence.

For example, the em dash — and the bullet • let me set off paragraphs as introductions to new sections. Superscript numbers ¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁸ ⁹ ⁰ let me add parenthetical expressions and notes at the end of a piece of text. Or I can use asterisks *, daggers †, or double daggers ‡ for variety.

Sometimes it's appropriate to combine terms using dots ⋅ or show a relationship with arrows → ← ↔. When describing mathematics or science, Greek letters can be helpful, such as beta β, delta Δ, pi π, or sigma Σ. When = > ≥ are not enough, there's ≈, ≥, ≤ and ≠, as well as ±. Sometimes it's handy to have the proper checkmark character ✓and its opposite ✗, and the Spanish ordinal characters ª and º.

When describing pricing situations, I can use a fictional unit of currency, such as the quatloo¹. Then I type the expression ql#, which AutoHotKey expands to the following:

¹ quatloo (IPA: /kwɑt,lu/) a fictional monetary unit on the planet Triskelion, as portrayed in an episode of the television series Star Trek, "Gamesters of Triskelion"(1968)

April 5, 2017
Back to Tips