I just wanted to tell you about a terrific utility called AutoHotkey. From the web site,

“AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder. …Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.”

One of the best things about AutoHotkey is that there is a huge active user community available. Just browsing the forum, there are lots of different scripts and examples. To get started, I would recommend downloading and running the installer, and then checking out the quick-start tutorial.

I use AutoHotkey to automate a lot of my frequent tasks: Creating an Outlook task and filling in some basic information, taking quick notes in a text file, searching and launching my bookmarks, and launching frequently used programs. In time, I’ll blog on all of these applications… I’ve already created a tag just for AutoHotkey! For now, here is a very simple example I use for stripping the formatting from text on the clipboard. What’s nice about this is you don’t have to think too hard to use it. Copy whatever you want to copy. When you go to paste, either use your normal CTRL-V to paste the full version, or use WIN-V to paste the text-only version. This is extremely handy when trying to paste things from web pages or even Word documents and not have to deal with all of the ugly formatting.

;*** Carl's Clipboard Stripper ***
; for use with AutoHotkey
; updated 08-Feb-07
#v:: ; Strip formatting from the clipboard
clipboard = %clipboard%
SendPlay ^v
#Left:: ; Toggle the tray icon
If A_IconHidden {
menu, tray, Icon
menu, tray, NoIcon

To use this code, paste it into Notepad and save it the file as something like myScript.ahk (or anything with the .ahk extension). From there, you just double-click to launch it. It will run until you shutdown or exit from the tray icon. You can also add it to your Startup folder (Start–>All Programs–>Startup) so that it always launches at startup.

One note on the tray icon… You’ll notice the “#NoTrayIcon” directive in my code. This prevents the green AutoHotkey tray icon from being visible. I prefer less clutter down there. Occasionally you will want to use the tray icon. There are some handy right-click menu choices that allow you to quickly open the source script file for editing, exit AutoHotkey, etc. To reveal the tray icon, simply press the WIN key with the left arrow key. This will toggle the tray icon ON and OFF.

Anyway, this is just a simple example. Much more to follow in future posts! Enjoy!