How to Install AutoHotkey (Even without Administrator Access)

February 2016 · 3 minute read

Microsoft Windows only.

TL;DR: Run AutoHotkey.exe without installing, by using the AutoHotkeyU64.exe file available in the .zip file from And become an AutoHotkey ninja with my 5-star ebook, Practical AutoHotkey.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to install AutoHotkey to reap the benefits. Further, it’s often easier to use AutoHotkey without installing it. This is a huge boon if you’re anywhere without administrator access to install software on your own computer, such as a corporate, university, government, or tight-fisted small business employer. 

To take advantage of this feature of AutoHotkey:

  1. Navigate to the Downloads page on the AutoHotkey website:
  2. Look for the text “Download” and click it to download the file.
  3. Open the .zip file you just downloaded (it should be in your Downloads folder, and have a filename like ‘’)
  4. Extract the zip file to your Documents folder (or whenever you want, but this is easiest).
  5. Setup a basic script:

    • Right-click this link and click ‘Save file as’ and save it to your Documents folder.
    • Alternatively, open Notepad and paste the following code into it, and save it as AutoHotkey.ahk in your Documents folder:
    +F5::Edit ; Shift-F5 launches the current AutoHotkey script in preferred editor, else Notepad 
    ^F5::Reload ; Ctrl-F5 reloads the current AutoHotKey script after any edits.
  6. Regardless of if you created your own AutoHotkey.ahk file or downloaded my starter file, open your Documents folder and double-click on AutoHotkey.exe or AutoHotkeyU64.exe, whichever one is there.

  7. With luck, you didn’t get any error messages.

  8. To make AutoHotkey even more useful, have it start automatically on boot:

    1. Open your Documents folder (or wherever your put the AutoHotkey executable) and right-click on the AutoHotkey executable and select ‘Create shortcut’.
    2. Press Windows key and R together.
    3. Type in ‘shell:startup’ in the ‘Run’ window that pops up and press Enter. This should open your startup folder.
    4. Drag the AutoHotkey shortcut you created in step 8.1 to the Startup folder.
    5. Restart your computer and make sure AutoHotkey is running after restart.

You’re now fully up and running – get started launching programs, showing and hiding windows, and more with my 5-star ebook Practical AutoHotkey or see some examples from the book.

Not in love with AutoHotkey yet? Then check out these articles:

And remember:

And that’s just how simple it is to use the portable version of AutoHotkey; you can use it on any computer without installing!

Copyright © 2016-2017 Nick May.