How to Write an AutoHotkey Script

autohotkey
AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a fantastic but complicated piece of software. It was initially intended to rebind custom hotkeys to different actions but is now a full Windows automation suite.

AHK isn’t particularly hard to learn for new users, as the general concept is fairly simple, but it is a full, Turing-complete programming language. You will pick up the syntax much easier if you have a programming background or are familiar with the concepts.

Installing and Using AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey’s installation process is straightforward. Download the installer from the official website and run it. Choose “Express Installation.” After you’ve installed the software, you can right-click anywhere and select New > AutoHotkey Script to make a new script.

new autohotkey script

AHK scripts are text files with a .ahk extension. If you right-click them, you’ll get a few options:

  • “Run Script” will load your script with the AHK runtime.
  • “Compile Script” will bundle it with an AHK executable to make an EXE file you can run.
  • “Edit Script” will open your script in your default text editor. You can use Notepad to write AHK scripts, but we recommend using SciTE4AutoHotkey, an editor for AHK which supports syntax highlighting and debugging.

compile autohotkey script

While a script is running—whether it’s an EXE or not—you’ll find it running in the background in the Windows notification area, also known as the system tray. Look for the green icon with an “H” on it.

To exit, pause, reload, or edit a script, right-click the notification icon and select an appropriate option. Scripts will continue to run in the background until you exit them. They’ll also go away when you sign out of Windows or reboot your PC, of course.

autohotkey script running

How Does AutoHotkey Work?

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How to Watch Netflix in 4K on a Mac

Netflix logo
Netflix

Watching 4K Netflix on a Mac is unnecessarily complicated. It’s not currently supported in macOS, so you’ll need to run Windows on your Mac—and even then you’ll still be limited to the Edge browser. But it can be done.

Why is 4K Netflix an Issue for Macs?

The 4K content itself isn’t the problem; it’s an issue of compatibility, codecs, and DRM (Digital Rights Management). And it’s not just Macs—4K streaming is an issue in general. When you stream video on any platform, it has to be packaged into something your computer can understand. The exact method for this is called a video coding format, and the program that does the packing and unpacking is called a codec. With the rise of 4K content, the tech world is currently in the process of switching over to newer codecs, and they’re all fighting about it.

Codecs are built into your computer but can vary by browser. YouTube only uses the VP9 codec for 4K video, but Safari doesn’t support VP9, so you need to use Chrome to watch 4K YouTube videos. Netflix supports a lot of codecs, but only uses HEVC for 4K. Since Safari is one of the few browsers to support HEVC playback, alongside Edge, it would seem 4K Netflix should be supported in Safari.

But another issue arises with DRM, a way of protecting the show from being copied and pirated. The DRM Netflix uses for 4K content is the new HDCP 2.2 (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection), which macOS does not support as of Mojave. HDCP is an OS level compliance and can’t be fixed with a fancier browser, so you’ll need Windows (or a virtual machine running Windows) to watch Netflix, all to ensure you’re not recording any shows. And the kicker is that DRM doesn’t even really work since shows will be pirated regardless (often automatically within minutes of release), so all it does—especially in Netflix’s case—is harm consumers.

You can still watch 4K Netflix content on your Mac, but it won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be a good solution.

Running Windows on a Mac to Watch Netflix

In summary from above, you’ll need:

  • An HDCP 2.2 compliant 4K TV, if your Mac’s built-in display isn’t 4K or higher. Both the TV and HDMI cable have to be HDCP 2.2 compliant or nothing will work. You won’t see any benefits streaming 4K content on a 1080p TV or your Mac’s 1440p display since it’s more pixels than can be displayed.
  • A Mac with a Kaby Lake (or higher) Intel processor: Most Macs made after 2017 will have one. Only Kaby Lake or higher CPUs have specialized hardware for decoding HEVC much faster. Edge only supports hardware decoded HEVC, but since it’s the only browser on Windows even supporting it at all, we have to use it. Safari does support software decoded HEVC on older CPUs, but since it doesn’t support HDCP 2.2, we’re stuck on Windows, using Edge. And even if you could use software decoding, you might run into performance issues depending on your model. Yeah, it’s complicated.
  • A Netflix “Premium” account, which costs $15.99 per month. This is the only plan with 4K support, but you will also be able to have four simultaneous streams from the same account.
  • A copy of Windows 10 and the willingness to either dual-boot your system or run it in a virtual machine. You’ll also need Edge, but it’s included in Windows 10.

If you have everything on the list and really want 4K Netflix, the process of running Windows on Mac is fairly simple. You have a few options:

  • Run a Windows virtual machine. A virtual machine runs Windows inside of macOS, so you don’t have to switch over to Windows completely. You will notice a slight performance hit because you’re running two operating systems at once. The VM we recommend for macOS is Parallels. It isn’t free, so you can try VirtualBox if you’d like, but Parallels has much better performance and is built for macOS.
  • Dual booting with Bootcamp, installing Windows permanently on your hard drive alongside (or on top of) macOS. This is an extreme solution, since you’ll be forced to reboot into a different operating system to watch Netflix, but will offer better performance than the others. It’s also less prone to bugs than VM software.
  • Why not both? Parallels supports running your boot camp partition as a virtual machine. This way, you can boot fully into Windows if you’d like, but still be able to access it from macOS. If you’ve got the space on your hard drive, and don’t mind the extra setup, this is the best solution.

Whatever option you choose, once you’re running Windows, load up Microsoft’s Edge browser and get to watching. You’ll see a new category marked “Ultra HD 4K” containing all the UHD content. You can also use Netflix’s Windows app, as it supports HEVC and HDCP 2.2. You can’t use Google Chrome, Firefox, or another browser.

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How to Add or Remove Your Phone Number in Messages or FaceTime

macOS logo

If you have an iPhone and a Mac or iPad, you can link your phone number to your iCloud account to send and receive calls and messages from the same number on both devices.

Add a New or Existing Number on iOS

You’ll need to make sure your devices are signed in to the same iCloud account for everything to sync correctly.

The process is the same for all iOS devices, but you’ll need to enable your existing number on your iPhone first. On your phone, open the Settings app.

Tap on the category marked “Messages.”

Make sure you’re signed in and have iMessage turned on. Scroll down and tap “Send & Receive.”

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Why Can’t You Use a TV as a Monitor?

Large TV on wallGaurav Paswan / Shutterstock

Televisions and computer monitors are similar and use mostly the same technology to drive the panels. You can usually use a TV with your computer, but they’re made for a different market and aren’t the same as monitors.

Differences in Connections

Both TVs and monitors will accept HDMI input, assuming they were made in the last decade. HDMI is the industry standard for video signals, and you’ll find them on nearly every device that outputs video from Rokus and game consoles to computers. Technically, if all you’re looking for is a screen to plug something into, either a TV or monitor will do.

Monitors will usually have other connections, such as DisplayPort, to support higher resolutions and refresh rates. TVs will often include multiple HDMI inputs for plugging in all your devices to one screen, whereas monitors are usually meant for using one device at a time.

Devices like game consoles usually send audio over HDMI, but monitors generally don’t have speakers, and rarely have decent ones if they do. You’re usually expected to plug in headphones at your desk or have desktop speakers. However, nearly all televisions will have speakers. The high-end models pride themselves on having great ones, as they function as the centerpiece of your living room.

TVs Are Much Larger

The obvious difference is the size of the screen. TVs are generally around 40 inches or more, while most desktop monitors sit around 24-27 inches. The TV is meant to be seen from across the room, and so needs to be bigger to occupy the same amount of your vision.

This might not be an issue for you; some people may prefer a larger display instead of many smaller ones. So the size isn’t an automatic dealbreaker, but the resolution is–if your TV is a 40-inch panel, but is only 1080p, it will look blurry when it’s close up on your desk, despite seeming just fine from across the room. If you’re going to be using a large TV as your primary computer monitor, consider getting a 4K panel.

The opposite is also true, as you wouldn’t want to use a small computer monitor as your living room TV. It’s certainly doable, but most mid-sized 1080p TVs cost about the same as a comparable desktop monitor.

Monitors Are Made For Interactivity

Gaming monitorGorodenkoff / Shutterstock

With televisions, the content you’re consuming is almost entirely prerecorded, but on monitors, you’ll be interacting with your desktop constantly. They’re built accordingly, with TVs focusing on better picture quality for movies and shows, often at the cost of processing time and input lag.

It’s important to understand the basics of how most TVs and monitors work to grasp why this matters. With both TVs and monitors, devices (like your computer or cable box) send pictures to the display many times per second. The display’s electronics process the image, which delays it being shown for a short while. This is generally referred to as the panel’s input lag.

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How to Charge your iPhone With the New MacBook Pro

Dongle plugged into MacBook
blackzheep / Shutterstock

On the latest MacBook Pros, Apple has replaced all of the ports with USB-C connections. This makes it more complicated to charge your phone, as you can no longer use your Lightning-to-USB cable with your MacBook.

Apple wants USB-C to be the new standard, and it’s undoubtedly a great connector, but during the switch, you’ll be stuck using dongles and adapters to connect the devices Apple left behind (which ironically includes the latest iPhone models).

Use a USB-C to Lightning Adapter Cable

USB-C to Lightning Cable

The simplest solution is to ditch the old USB connector altogether and switch over to USB-C. Apple sells adapter cables that allow you to connect your phone directly to your laptop, with no dongles or mess to worry about, though you can always get a third party cable for cheaper on Amazon.

But there’s a catch—now you’ll have two charging cables, one for charging with your MacBook and one for charging from the wall. If this bothers you, you could ditch wall charging and only charge your phone from your MacBook, or you could throw out your old cable and plug your new cable into your MacBook charger block. This will let you charge off the wall without your old cable, but then you’ll be stuck juggling between charging your MacBook or your phone, which use different connectors.

The easiest method is to get a dedicated USB-C wall block for your phone and keep it all separate. You can find USB-C wall chargers on Amazon.

Get a USB-C to USB-A Dongle

USB-C to USB dongle adapter

These adapters are handy, so you’ll probably want one of these for your MacBook anyway. You plug your existing phone charger cable into the adapter’s USB-A slot (the older, larger USB ports you’ve been using for years), and then plug the adapter into your MacBook, forming a bridge between the two. There are also multi-port hubs with many different connectors that will work as well, so long as they have a USB-A port to plug into. You can find all kinds of USB-C adapters on Amazon.

These dongles are a little clunkier than just switching to USB-C but will allow you to keep your current USB wall charger while still being able to charge through your MacBook. They are also useful for plugging other USB based devices into your MacBook, so it’s good to have one around even if you prefer using the USB-C to Lightning cable to charge your phone.