Non-Linux FOSS: Don't Type All Those Words!

We've mentioned Autokey as a great tool for text replacement in real time on Linux. Thankfully, there's an option for Windows users that actually is even more powerful than Autokey! AutoHotkey is a similarly named application that runs strictly under Windows. It's still FOSS, but there's unfortunately no version for Linux.

The premise for AutoHotkey is the same as Autokey for Linux. Type a quick short bit of text, and it will expand that shortcut into the predefined text you tell it to use. I find this useful while programming, as creating those curly braces in pairs is very useful. The program is a bit of a bear to configure, because there's no GUI to configure keys. In order to configure the program, you write a text-based script that defines your shortcuts.

AutoHotkey (AHK it's sometimes called) even allows you to pre-compile your shortcuts into an executable so you don't need to re-program them when you move to a new computer. Grab your .exe file, and run it when you visit your folks for the holidays. (But don't make a shortcut that automatically misspells your sibling's name when your parents type it...or if you do, don't blame me!)

AutoHotkey is free, and it's available at There's a nice quick-start tutorial as well to help you get started, because like I mentioned, it's a little rough at first. If you're stuck typing a lot of text on a Windows machine, check out AutoHotkey today!


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.