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Automate Programs with AHK

Automate Windows Programs with AutoHotkey17 Ways to Automate Windows Programs with AutoHotkey

This document, and accompanying  video, took us over a year to put together!  While there are more ways, we worked through the most common /best approaches to automate windows programs with AutoHotkey.  The video walks through the pros & cons of each approach and the document has several dozen links that are incredibly helpful for learning the various approaches to automate windows programs with AutoHotkey.

17 Ways to Automate Windows Programs | Learn all the approaches in AHK

17 Ways to Automate Windows Programs | Learn all the approaches in AHK


The key idea of the video is that AutoHotkey is a powerful tool for automating Windows programs, offering various methods such as reading and writing from the registry, clipboard manipulation, program-specific APIs, and Com objects.

  • 00:00 📚 The video discusses different ways to automate Windows programs using AutoHotkey, providing links for further information, and considering factors like reliability and speed of automation.
    • The document discusses various ways to automate Windows programs using AutoHotkey, simplifying the process for beginners while acknowledging more advanced techniques involving DLL calls.
    • The video covers various approaches to automate Windows programs, including code libraries, videos, and courses, with hyperlinks provided for further information.
    • The first factor to consider is the reliability of the program on one computer, while the second factor is the reliability on multiple computers.
    • The sp scale rates the speed and simplicity of automating Windows programs, while the p scale measures the prevalence of the technology used for automation.
  • 03:26 📝 Automating Windows programs using AHK can be done through reading and writing from the registry, clipboard manipulation, file read write, program-specific APIs, and Com objects, with the latter being complex but effective.
    • Reading and writing from the registry is a reliable and easy approach to automate Windows programs, especially when trying to connect to a program and understand its values.
    • Speed is fast and once you understand it, automating Windows programs using AHK is simple, with examples available in the Windows registry and a PDF version of the transcript will be provided for easy access.
    • Clipboard manipulation is a reliable and simple way to automate Windows programs, while file read write is another useful approach.
    • Being able to read and write files, use file objects, work with files, and loop over things is very helpful in automating Windows programs, as well as using program-specific APIs and connecting to the Windows API.
    • Com objects are a great way to automate Windows programs as they are programmatic, fast, and although a bit complex, their biggest drawback is their prevalence.
  • 07:32 🤖 Use com objects or send/post messages to automate Windows programs, with controls and shell hooks being other options that can be understood through video examples.
    • Use com objects to automate Windows programs, as they are available in many Microsoft and non-Microsoft programs, while sending and posting messages is also a reliable and fast method, although more complex to learn.
    • Connect to programs using send message or post message for control automation, especially with older programs, although newer programs are transitioning away from older style controls.
    • There are various ways to automate Windows programs, such as using controls or shell hooks, which may seem complex but can be easily understood by watching a video example.
  • 10:21 🤖 Automating Windows programs with AutoHotkey is effective and simple, utilizing the status bar, web API calls, and OAuth 2 handshake for advantages over web scraping.
    • The status bar and web API calls are useful ways to automate Windows programs by checking program status and connecting to online databases.
    • AutoHotkey is a powerful tool for automating Windows programs, with simplicity and prevalence being key factors in its effectiveness.
    • Public APIs are generally straightforward to use, but the complexity lies in the OAuth 2 handshake, which can be time-consuming, but it is worth the investment for the advantages of using an API compared to web scraping.
  • 13:00 🤖 Automating Windows programs on one’s own computer is more efficient than on different computers, with the difference between API and human interface approaches being that the latter replicates human actions but may have sharing issues, while AHK’s dll calls are reliable and fast but require understanding of function language and parameters, whereas autohotkey simplifies the process but lacks flexibility.
    • It is more efficient to automate Windows programs on one’s own computer rather than on different computers due to potential differences in functionality and speed.
    • The difference between an API approach and a human interface approach in automating Windows programs is that the human interface approach replicates what a human would do with the keyboard, but it may have some issues when shared with others.
    • Dll calls in AHK are reliable and fast, but require understanding of the function’s language and parameters, while autohotkey simplifies this process but lacks the flexibility of dll calls.
  • 15:22 🤖 Automating Windows programs with AutoHotkey is reliable and simple, but may not work well with newer programs, while using the Windows API for computer information can be fast but may seem strange. Image and pixel search in AHK can be useful but may be unreliable due to resolution and color variations.
    • Automating older programs with file menus using AutoHotkey is a reliable and simple approach, although it may not be as prevalent in newer programs.
    • You can retrieve information about your computer using the Windows API, which is fast and not overly complex, but it may appear strange and different.
    • Image search and pixel search in AHK can be useful for automating Windows programs, but they can be unreliable due to variations in resolution and colors.
  • 18:13 🤖 Autohotkey and Microsoft UI Automation are powerful tools for automating Windows programs, providing accessibility and programmatically interacting with elements on the screen.
    • The microsoft active accessibility object and the acc library have great potential for automation and there are various examples and resources available to learn and use them effectively.
    • The acc library is limited in its ability to trigger actions, but it can still be used to programmatically identify and interact with specific areas on the screen, although it requires more advanced programming skills, and the Microsoft UI Automation has replaced the deprecated Microsoft Active Accessibility technology.
    • Autohotkey allows for automation of Windows programs by programmatically identifying and interacting with elements, although it may not have all the desired functionality, it is widely applicable and beneficial for accessibility purposes.
    • Know that these automation tools are available and use them when you encounter difficulties, as they provide links to helpful resources, and there are plans to develop a UI automation tool for dragging, clicking, and programmatically interacting with elements.
    • The speaker discusses advanced ways to automate Windows programs without needing to be a brain surgeon.
  • 22:35 📝 The speaker shares a list of ways to automate Windows programs using AHK and seeks feedback on additional methods, excluding one due to lack of documentation.
    • The speaker wants to create a tool that can test and rank different approaches for connecting to programs, which would be helpful for people who are unsure of how to connect to certain elements.
    • The speaker provides a list of ways to automate Windows programs using AHK and asks for feedback on additional methods, excluding one due to lack of documentation.

 

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