AutoKey: Learn how to Change Characters with Predefined Textual content Robotically in Linux

AutoKey: Learn how to Change Characters with Predefined Textual content Robotically in Linux

Shutterstock/Narith Thongphasuk

Welcome to AutoKey, the free desktop automation utility for Linux. Do you usually use templates, repeat keystrokes or different repetitive duties? If that’s the case, AutoKey is a superb toolkit you do not need to overlook out on!

What’s AutoKey?

Let’s say you usually kind your e mail handle, or your postal handle. It may be a bit irritating to need to kind it out each time. Let AutoKey do it for you! All you must do is to affiliate a keyboard shortcut – a set of keystroke occasions – with a specific blurb of textual content.

One other simple to setup perform is keyboard automation. AutoKey helps varied key occasions like a left or proper cursor press (the left and proper arrow in your keyboard). To incorporate this in your textual content blurb, all you must is to make use of a small command which represents what to do:

Example of Autokey keyboard shortcut sequence

On this sequence, we insert (as textual content) the code HTML tag after which press the left key seven instances. That is very helpful once you’re growing HTML in a textual content editor and want to shortly insert a code tag and be taken again to the place the place the code began (first code tag), and earlier than the code block ends (second tag, /code). In different phrases, the seven left presses carry us properly to only contained in the >< brackets.

We are able to additionally automate form-filling by inserting tabs and so on.

Regrettably, there are some minor points with the AutoKey program that you have to be conscious of. On Ubuntu 20.04.1 and utilizing the dpkg primarily based set up, AutoKey could crash when attempting to document a macro by utilizing the keyboard/mouse (Instruments > Report keyboard/mouse). This performance is mostly talking not wanted for the needs described on this information.

One other situation is that AutoKey is considerably complicated to get setup the primary time except you will have a information like this one to comply with. Particularly the likelihood to assign keyboard shortcuts (abbreviations in addition to hotkeys) to folders in addition to particular person ‘phrases’ (take into consideration this time period as precise keyboard assignments to textual content blurbs).

Lastly, AutoKey, at the least on Ubuntu 20.04.1 generally fails to answer a keyboard sequence you’ve programmed it to answer. A simple workaround for this situation is to click on the AutoKey icon on the dock to carry it to the foreground and click on it. You will see for those who swap again to your workspace, the important thing sequences will work once more.

Even with these shortcomings, which can be resolved in due time, AutoKey is a must have software. Not having to kind one’s handle time and again, urgent solely two to 3 keys to stick in your e mail (any keystrokes are eliminated robotically), and the power to have full doc templates on the worth of some keys and a mouse click on (to substantiate the keyboard sequence), are invaluable.

Putting in AutoKey

This information assume you have already got AutoKey up and operating in your system. Should you haven’t put in it but, there are detailed directions on the AutoKey venture web page on GitHub for varied working programs:

For Ubuntu, Mint and different Debian primarily based working system customers, see Debian and Derivatives.

For Arch, see Arch AutoKey Installation, and for Gentoo see Gentoo AutoKey Installation

You can even set up AutoKey utilizing Python pip, see pip based installation

If you have already got an present AutoKey set up, you will need to remove it first. And, earlier than doing so, you could wish to backup your configuration in ~/.config/autokey.

Organising AutoKey

After getting AutoKey setup, open it up and you need to see the principle interface:

Main AutoKey interface

As you may see, I have already got some AutoKey setup. AutoKey has many options, together with a full scripting interface:

Autokey scripting

The very first thing it would be best to do is to setup the preferences. Click on Edit > Preferences. You may be introduced with the next window:

Autokey preferences

We tick the primary 3 choices to (1) be sure that AutoKey begins on startup, (2) Auto-save modifications and (3) to point out a notification icon within the Taskbar, which in Ubuntu presents itself as follows:

Autokey taskbar icon

You should utilize this notification icon to shortly use some gadgets with out having to make use of keyboard shortcuts, in addition to opening the applying instantly.

Utilizing AutoKey: Keyboard Shortcuts

Able to setup some keyboard shortcuts? Click on the New icon > choose Phrase > present a reputation to your new phrase like ‘My Deal with’ > OK:

Autokey - creating a phraseSubsequent, we will enter our handle:

Entering address in Autokey and setting Autokey options

First enter the handle (1), and subsequent choose ‘At all times immediate earlier than pasting this phrase’ (2) as it would be best to have some type of mouse-based affirmation once you typed your keyboard shortcut sequence. The explanation for that is that you could be be in some software, like your Slack workspace at work, and by chance kind your key sequence related to the handle.

As this specific sequence has newlines in it (for instance after ‘My Title’), when these keyboard sequences are despatched you should have no strategy to cease them and all textual content will probably be despatched to no matter place you might be working in. Because the newlines verify (like enter) messages in lots of communication instruments, your message will probably be despatched (besides the final line) even earlier than you may say ‘whoopsie’ 🙂

Subsequent we additionally add it as a brand new choice to our notification/taskbar icon by clicking ‘Present in notification icon menu’ (3) and at last we make it possible for we’re pasting in by Keyboard, although you could like to check different choices on this subject for varied textual content paste (i.e. insert) state of affairs’s.

Nearly executed. Now we have to assign a keyboard sequence/shortcut and for that we click on on ‘Set’ (5) for Abbreviations. We’re then introduced with the next dialog:

Autokey set abbreviation and abbreviation options
First, click on the ‘Add’ button (1). First, kind in your most well-liked keyboard sequence (I normally use a letter and prefix it by ‘//’ as that could be a not-often used keyboard sequence (except you’re a programmer who varieties feedback instantly after // comment strains as a substitute of utilizing an area).

On this case we set ‘//m’. Now comes a barely tough half on account of a minor shortcoming within the AutoKey GUI. Don’t click on anyplace else then within the whitespace slightly below the newly outlined abbreviation. For instance, click on the place the (2) circle is within the screenshot above. This can lock within the abbreviation / keyboard sequence as a substitute of eradicating it once more. You’ll quickly get used to it.

Subsequent we wish to make sure the ‘Take away typed abbreviation’ is ticked (3) and that we choose ‘Set off instantly (don’t require a set off character) (4). Bear in mind how we talked about some issues are barely complicated? That is considered one of them. You’ll be able to set set off characters above and past, as a prefix, to keyboard sequences / abbreviations, however that is usually pointless and we will allow extra easy utilization of AutoKey by choosing this selection. Lastly, click on ‘OK’ (5) to substantiate every part.

All executed! Now merely open your favourite textual content editor (sure even vi/vim inside a terminal will work!) and sort your keyboard sequence ‘//m’. If all went effectively, you need to now see slightly ‘My Deal with’ popup the place your mouse cursor is positioned in that second, permitting you to click on it and render the textual content:

Address output generated by Autokey

Should you ought to see output much like the next:

Incorrect Autokey output

Try to change your keyboard ‘Paste utilizing’ methodology for the Phrase to ‘Clipboard (Ctrl+V)’ as a substitute:

Changing Autokey keyboard paste method

And you have to be all set.

Wrapping up

AutoKey is a superb utility which can prevent many hours of repetitive typing work.

It does nonetheless include it’s personal shortcomings and even points as mentioned. AutoKey has been around for many years and – with the hope that the present builders will repair a few of the shortcomings – will probably be round for a lot of productive years to come back! Take pleasure in!

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