Have been using AutoHotKey for some time now after a brief fling with HotKeys. You may have read about AutoHotKey over at LifeHacker or scanned it at Scott Hanselman's Ultimate Tools list. But neither do the tool justice. Both claim it is an auto correct tool you can use outside Word but that's not entirely accurate. While the utility can be used for that, it's only a small part of the warm fuzzy feeling that is AutoHotKey.

At a higher level, it's a way of automating pretty much anything using keystroke combinations. And I do mean anything. You can even map the Caps Lock key to something else or even cancel it altogether (which is more than the useless key deserves). And if you were so inclined, I imagine you could remap your keyboard so that it became a Dvorak one instead of qwerty.

I downloaded it initially so I could map various actions to Win key combinations but imagine my surprise when I stumbled on to a fully-functional sample script that lets you use the number pad as a mouse replacement. And a fully customizable one at that. You won't be playing Halo with it but it's definitely workable for, say, opening the little Outlook new mail notification, or having to deal with a non-keyboard friendly webmail app in IE. (Having said that, that particular script does have a slight quirk when you are running dual monitors.)

A quick scroll through the script showcase should give you an idea of what's possible. To me, it seems like the tool brings the power of ReSharper shortcuts to every other application on your machine. Of course, you have to put in the time to figure out how to write the scripts which can be pretty daunting for even relatively simple macros, let alone one that will display a list of favorite folders when you click the middle mouse button in certain types of windows.

But I admit the more advanced features are left untouched by me as yet and for the time being, it remains only a Win key mapper. Current mappings:

  • Win+R = SlickRun*
  • Win+S = Visual Studio
  • Win+O = Outlook
  • Win+P = Paint.NET
  • Win+N = Notepad++
  • Win+C = command prompt
  • Win+1, Win+2, Win+3 = various remote desktops I commonly use
  • Win+D = My Documents
  • Win+F = Facebook (Oh, admit it, it's in your favorites too)

* The app appears to override the GrabWinR feature you can use in SlickRun so I had to add an mapping back to it. Unfortunately, the Chase Cursor option no longer works but I can live with that.

Kyle the Mapped