One problem I find with laptops: the keyboards have been modified to fit into the small space available. Usually this means moving around the “extra” keys so that the letters and numbers can be full size. And usually, one or more of these compromises seems really stupid to me.
For example, my current Toshiba laptop has a bottom row of keys like this:
[Ctrl][Fn][Alt][`~][ Space ][Ins][Del][Alt]
What!? Ins, but no right Ctrl? Are these people crazy? Who uses Ins any more?
To fix this problem, I found AutoHotkey, one of those single-minded Windows utilities which takes a seemingly small domain and makes the most of it. AutoHotkey remaps keys and key sequences. With it, I could remap the Ins key to mean Ctrl, fixing my keyboard.
I also found that my left thumb was hurting more than my other digits, and that my Alt-Tab habit was aggravating it. I would tuck my left thumb under to the left Alt key, and hit the Tab key with my ring finger. Very quick, but also contorted. With AutoHotkey, I remapped that key combination to not do Alt-Tab, breaking me of the habit. Now I use the right Alt key with my right hand, press the tab key with my left hand, and my discomfort is much reduced.
The AutoHotkey scripting language can do many things, my little script only scratches the surface:
RAlt & Tab::AltTab
RAlt & CapsLock::ShiftAltTab
LAlt & Tab::MsgBox Boo!
- Ins should be treated as Ctrl
- Right-Alt and Tab should do an Alt-Tab
- Right-Alt and CapsLock should do a Shift-Alt-Tab (rotate applications backwards)
- Left-Alt and Tab should put up a message box that says “Boo!”
There’s lots more that AutoHotkey can do that I haven’t even begun to explore, like sending Windows messages, manipulating windows, and so on. But the few things I need it to do, it does well.