Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Table of Contents

Language Syntax

General Troubleshooting

Common Tasks

Hotkeys, Hotstrings, and Remapping

Language Syntax

When are quotation marks used with commands and their parameters?

Double quotes (") have special meaning only within expressions. In all other places, they are treated literally as if they were normal characters. However, when a script launches a program or document, the operating system usually requires quotes around any command-line parameter that contains spaces, such as in this example: Run, Notepad.exe "C:\My Documents\Address List.txt".

When exactly are variable names enclosed in percent signs?

Variable names are always enclosed in percent signs except in cases illustrated in bold below:

For further explanation of how percent signs are used, see Legacy Syntax and Dynamic Variables. Percent signs can also have other meanings:

When should percent signs and commas be escaped?

Literal percent signs must be escaped by preceding them with an accent/backtick. For example: MsgBox The current percentage is 25`%. Literal commas must also be escaped (`,) except when used in MsgBox or the last parameter of any command (in which case the accent is permitted but not necessary).

When commas or percent signs are enclosed in quotes within an expression, the accent is permitted but not necessary. For example: Var := "15%".

General Troubleshooting

What can I do if AutoHotkey won't install?

7-zip Error: Use 7-zip or a compatible program to extract the setup files from the installer EXE, then run setup.exe or Installer.ahk (drag and drop Installer.ahk onto AutoHotkeyU32.exe).

AutoHotkey's installer comes packaged as a 7-zip self-extracting archive which attempts to extract to the user's Temp directory and execute a compiled script. Sometimes system policies or other factors prevent the files from being extracted or executed. Usually in such cases the message "7-zip Error" is displayed. Manually extracting the files to a different directory may help.

Setup hangs: If the setup window comes up blank or not at all, try one or both of the following:

Other: The suggestions above cover the most common problems. For further assistance, post on the forums.

How do I restore the right-click context menu options for .ahk files?

Normally if AutoHotkey is installed, right-clicking an AutoHotkey script (.ahk) file should give the following options:

Sometimes these options are overridden by settings in the current user's profile, such as if Open With has been used to change the default program for opening .ahk files. This can be fixed by deleting the following registry key:


This can be done by applying this registry patch.

It may also be necessary to repair the default registry values, either by reinstalling AutoHotkey or by running AutoHotkey Setup (from the Start menu) and selecting apply near the top of the window.

Why do some lines in my script never execute?

Any lines you want to execute immediately when the script starts should appear at the top of the script, prior to the first hotkey, hotstring, or Return. For details, see auto-execute section.

Also, a hotkey that executes more than one line must list its first line beneath the hotkey, not on the same line. For example:

#space::  ; Win+Spacebar
Run Notepad
WinWaitActive Untitled - Notepad

Why doesn't my script work on Windows xxx even though it worked on a previous version?

There are many variations of this problem, such as:

If you've switched operating systems, it is likely that something else has also changed and may be affecting your script. For instance, if you've got a new computer, it might have different drivers or other software installed. If you've also updated to a newer version of AutoHotkey, find out which version you had before and then check the changelog and compatibility notes.

SoundGet, SoundSet, SoundGetWaveVolume and SoundSetWaveVolume behave differently on Vista and later than on earlier versions of Windows. In particular, device numbers are different and some components may be unavailable. Behaviour depends on the audio drivers, which are necessarily different to the ones used on XP. The soundcard analysis script can be used to find the correct device numbers.

Also refer to the following question:

How do I work around problems caused by User Account Control (UAC)?

By default, User Account Control (UAC) protects "elevated" programs (that is, programs which are running as admin) from being automated by non-elevated programs, since that would allow them to bypass security restrictions. Hotkeys are also blocked, so for instance, a non-elevated program cannot spy on input intended for an elevated program.

UAC may also prevent SendPlay and BlockInput from working.

Common workarounds are as follows:

I can't edit my script via tray icon because it won't start due to an error. What should I do?

You need to fix the error in your script before you can get your tray icon back. But first, you need to find the script file.

Look for AutoHotkey.ahk in the following directories:

If you are running another AutoHotkey executable directly, the name of the script depends on the executable. For example, if you are running AutoHotkeyU32.exe, look for AutoHotkeyU32.ahk. Note that depending on your system settings the ".ahk" part may be hidden, but the file should have an icon like [H]

You can usually edit a script file by right clicking it and selecting Edit Script. If that doesn't work, you can open the file in Notepad or another editor.

If you launch AutoHotkey from the Start menu or by running AutoHotkey.exe directly (without command line parameters), it will look for a script in one of the locations shown above. Alternatively, you can create a script file (something.ahk) anywhere you like, and run the script file instead of running AutoHotkey.

See also Command Line Parameter "Script Filename" and Portability of AutoHotkey.exe.

How can I find and fix errors in my code?

For simple scripts, see Debugging a Script. To show contents of a variable, use MsgBox or ToolTip. For complex scripts, see Interactive Debugging.

Why is the Run command unable to launch my game or program?

Some programs need to be started in their own directories (when in doubt, it is usually best to do so). For example:

Run, %A_ProgramFiles%\Some Application\App.exe, %A_ProgramFiles%\Some Application

If the program you are trying to start is in %A_WinDir%\System32 and you are using AutoHotkey 32-bit on a 64-bit system, the File System Redirector may be interfering. To work around this, use %A_WinDir%\SysNative instead; this is a virtual directory only visible to 32-bit programs running on 64-bit systems.

Why are the non-ASCII characters in my script displaying or sending incorrectly?

Short answer: Save the script as UTF-8 with BOM.

Although AutoHotkey supports Unicode text, it is optimized for backward-compatibility, which means defaulting to the ANSI encoding rather than the more internationally recommended UTF-8. AutoHotkey will not automatically recognize a UTF-8 file unless it begins with a byte order mark (BOM).

In other words, UTF-8 files which lack a BOM are misinterpreted, causing non-ASCII characters to be decoded incorrectly. To resolve this, save the file as UTF-8 with BOM or add the /CP65001 command line switch.

To save as UTF-8 with BOM in Notepad, select UTF-8 with BOM (or UTF-8 on systems older than Windows 10 v1903) from the Encoding drop-down in the Save As dialog. Note that Notepad in Windows 10 v1903 and later defaults to UTF-8 (without BOM).

To read other UTF-8 files which lack a BOM, use FileEncoding UTF-8-RAW, the *P65001 option with FileRead, or "UTF-8-RAW" for the third parameter of FileOpen(). The -RAW suffix can be omitted, but in that case any newly created files will have a BOM.

Note that INI files accessed with the standard INI commands do not support UTF-8; they must be saved as ANSI or UTF-16.

Why don't Hotstrings, Send, and Click work in certain games?

Not all games allow AHK to send keys and clicks or receive pixel colors.

But there are some alternatives, try all the solutions mentioned below. If all these fail, it may not be possible for AHK to work with your game. Sometimes games have a hack and cheat prevention measure, such as GameGuard and Hackshield. If they do, there is a high chance that AutoHotkey will not work with that game.

How can performance be improved for games or at other times when the CPU is under heavy load?

If a script's Hotkeys, Clicks, or Sends are noticeably slower than normal while the CPU is under heavy load, raising the script's process-priority may help. To do this, include the following line near the top of the script:

Process, Priority, , High

My antivirus program flagged AutoHotkey or a compiled script as malware. Is it really a virus?

Although it is certainly possible that the file has been infected, most often these alerts are false positives, meaning that the antivirus program is mistaken. One common suggestion is to upload the file to an online service such as virustotal or Jotti and see what other antivirus programs have to say. If in doubt, you could send the file to the vendor of your antivirus software for confirmation. This might also help us and other AutoHotkey users, as the vendor may confirm it is a false positive and fix their product to play nice with AutoHotkey.

False positives might be more common for compiled scripts which have been compressed, such as with UPX (default for AutoHotkey 1.0 but not 1.1) or MPRESS (optional for AutoHotkey 1.1). As the default AutoHotkey installation does not include a compressor, compiled scripts are not compressed by default.

Common Tasks

Where can I find the official build, or older releases?

See download page of AutoHotkey.

Can I run AHK from a USB drive?

See Portability of AutoHotkey.exe.

Note that when you compile a script that uses auto-included function libraries, AutoHotkey.exe and the Lib folder must be up one level from Ahk2Exe.exe (e.g. \AutoHotkey.exe vs \Compiler\Ahk2Exe.exe). Also note that Ahk2Exe saves settings to the following registry key: HKCU\Software\AutoHotkey\Ahk2Exe. The compiler itself (Ahk2Exe) is not needed to run scripts.

How can the output of a command line operation be retrieved?

Testing shows that due to file caching, a temporary file can be very fast for relatively small outputs. In fact, if the file is deleted immediately after use, it often does not actually get written to disk. For example:

RunWait %ComSpec% /c dir > C:\My Temp File.txt
FileRead, VarToContainContents, C:\My Temp File.txt
FileDelete, C:\My Temp File.txt

To avoid using a temporary file (especially if the output is large), consider using the Shell.Exec() method as shown in the examples for the Run command.

How can a script close, pause, suspend or reload other script(s)?

First, here is an example that closes another script:

DetectHiddenWindows On  ; Allows a script's hidden main window to be detected.
SetTitleMatchMode 2  ; Avoids the need to specify the full path of the file below.
WinClose ScriptFileName.ahk - AutoHotkey  ; Update this to reflect the script's name (case-sensitive).

To suspend, pause or reload another script, replace the last line above with one of these:

PostMessage, 0x0111, 65305,,, ScriptFileName.ahk - AutoHotkey  ; Suspend.
PostMessage, 0x0111, 65306,,, ScriptFileName.ahk - AutoHotkey  ; Pause.
PostMessage, 0x0111, 65303,,, ScriptFileName.ahk - AutoHotkey  ; Reload.

How can a repeating action be stopped without exiting the script?

To pause or resume the entire script at the press of a key, assign a hotkey to the Pause command as in this example:

^!p::Pause  ; Press Ctrl+Alt+P to pause. Press it again to resume.

To stop an action that is repeating inside a Loop, consider the following working example, which is a hotkey that both starts and stops its own repeating action. In other words, pressing the hotkey once will start the loop. Pressing the same hotkey again will stop it.

#MaxThreadsPerHotkey 3
#z::  ; Win+Z hotkey (change this hotkey to suit your preferences).
#MaxThreadsPerHotkey 1
if KeepWinZRunning  ; This means an underlying thread is already running the loop below.
    KeepWinZRunning := false  ; Signal that thread's loop to stop.
    return  ; End this thread so that the one underneath will resume and see the change made by the line above.
; Otherwise:
KeepWinZRunning := true
    ; The next four lines are the action you want to repeat (update them to suit your preferences):
    ToolTip, Press Win-Z again to stop this from flashing.
    Sleep 1000
    Sleep 1000
    ; But leave the rest below unchanged.
    if not KeepWinZRunning  ; The user signaled the loop to stop by pressing Win-Z again.
        break  ; Break out of this loop.
KeepWinZRunning := false  ; Reset in preparation for the next press of this hotkey.

How can context sensitive help for AutoHotkey commands be used in any editor?

Rajat created this script.

How to detect when a web page is finished loading?

With Internet Explorer, perhaps the most reliable method is to use DllCall() and COM as demonstrated at On a related note, the contents of the address bar and status bar can be retrieved as demonstrated at

Older, less reliable method: The technique in the following example will work with MS Internet Explorer for most pages. A similar technique might work in other browsers:

MouseMove, 0, 0  ; Prevents the status bar from showing a mouse-hover link instead of "Done".
WinWait, Yahoo! - 
StatusBarWait, Done, 30
if ErrorLevel
    MsgBox The wait timed out or the window was closed. 
    MsgBox The page is done loading.

How can dates and times be compared or manipulated?

The EnvAdd command can add or subtract a quantity of days, hours, minutes, or seconds to a time-string that is in the YYYYMMDDHH24MISS format. The following example subtracts 7 days from the specified time: EnvAdd, VarContainingTimestamp, -7, days.

To determine the amount of time between two dates or times, see EnvSub, which gives an example. Also, the built-in variable A_Now contains the current local time. Finally, there are several built-in date/time variables, as well as the FormatTime command to create a custom date/time string.

How can I send the current Date and/or Time?

Use FormatTime or built-in variables for date and time.

How can I send text to a window which isn't active or isn't visible?

Use ControlSend.

How can Winamp be controlled even when it isn't active?

See Automating Winamp.

How can MsgBox's button names be changed?

Here is an example.

How can I change the default editor, which is accessible via context menu or tray icon?

In the example section of Edit you will find a script that allows you to change the default editor.

How can I save the contents of my GUI associated variables?

Use Gui Submit. For Example:

Gui, Add, Text,, Enter some Text and press Submit:
Gui, Add, Edit, vAssociatedVar
Gui, Add, Button,, Submit
Gui, Show

Gui, Submit, NoHide
MsgBox, Content of the edit control: %AssociatedVar%

Can I draw something with AHK?

See GDI+ standard library by tic. It's also possible with some rudimentary methods using Gui, but in a limited way.

How can I start an action when a window appears, closes or becomes [in]active?

Use WinWait, WinWaitClose or WinWait[Not]Active.

There are also user-created solutions such as OnWin.ahk and [How to] Hook on to Shell to receive its messages.

Hotkeys, Hotstrings, and Remapping

How do I put my hotkeys and hotstrings into effect automatically every time I start my PC?

There are several ways to make a script (or any program) launch automatically every time you start your PC. The easiest is to place a shortcut to the script in the Startup folder:

  1. Find the script file, select it, and press Ctrl+C.
  2. Press Win+R to open the Run dialog, then enter shell:startup and click OK or Enter. This will open the Startup folder for the current user. To instead open the folder for all users, enter shell:common startup (however, in that case you must be an administrator to proceed).
  3. Right click inside the window, and click "Paste Shortcut". The shortcut to the script should now be in the Startup folder.

I'm having trouble getting my mouse buttons working as hotkeys. Any advice?

The left and right mouse buttons should be assignable normally (for example, #LButton:: is the Win+LeftButton hotkey). Similarly, the middle button and the turning of the mouse wheel should be assignable normally except on mice whose drivers directly control those buttons.

The fourth button (XButton1) and the fifth button (XButton2) might be assignable if your mouse driver allows their clicks to be seen by the system. If they cannot be seen -- or if your mouse has more than five buttons that you want to use -- you can try configuring the software that came with the mouse (sometimes accessible in the Control Panel or Start Menu) to send a keystroke whenever you press one of these buttons. Such a keystroke can then be defined as a hotkey in a script. For example, if you configure the fourth button to send Ctrl+F1, you can then indirectly configure that button as a hotkey by using ^F1:: in a script.

If you have a five-button mouse whose fourth and fifth buttons cannot be seen, you can try changing your mouse driver to the default driver included with the OS. This assumes there is such a driver for your particular mouse and that you can live without the features provided by your mouse's custom software.

How can Tab and Space be defined as hotkeys?

Use the names of the keys (Tab and Space) rather than their characters. For example, #Space is Win+Space and ^!Tab is Ctrl+Alt+Tab.

How can keys or mouse buttons be remapped so that they become different keys?

This is described on the remapping page.

How do I detect the double press of a key or button?

Use built-in variables for hotkeys as follows:

    if (A_ThisHotkey = A_PriorHotkey && A_TimeSincePriorHotkey < 200)
        MsgBox double-press

How can a hotkey or hotstring be made exclusive to certain program(s)? In other words, I want a certain key to act as it normally does except when a specific window is active.

The preferred method is #IfWinActive. For example:

#IfWinActive, ahk_class Notepad
^a::MsgBox You pressed Control-A while Notepad is active.

How can a prefix key be made to perform its native function rather than doing nothing?

Consider the following example, which makes Numpad0 into a prefix key:

Numpad0 & Numpad1::MsgBox, You pressed Numpad1 while holding down Numpad0.

Now, to make Numpad0 send a real Numpad0 keystroke whenever it wasn't used to launch a hotkey such as the above, add the following hotkey:

 $Numpad0::Send, {Numpad0}

The $ prefix is needed to prevent a warning dialog about an infinite loop (since the hotkey "sends itself"). In addition, the above action occurs at the time the key is released.

How can the built-in Windows shortcut keys, such as Win+U (Utility Manager) and Win+R (Run), be changed or disabled?

Here are some examples.

Can I use wildcards or regular expressions in Hotstrings?

Use the script by polyethene (examples are included).

How can I use a hotkey that is not in my keyboard layout?

See Special Keys.

My keypad has a special 000 key. Is it possible to turn it into a hotkey?

Yes. This example script makes 000 into an equals key. You can change the action by replacing the Send, = line with line(s) of your choice.