How to manage character substitutions?

A little off-topic but definitely Dorico-relevant. I just got a new Windows laptop, as it was time to retire the dinosaur. I opted for something smaller, so it doesn’t have a full numeric keypad on the right.

I love everything about the smaller form factor except for this, since it’s really hindering me. I had all sorts of things mapped to the number pad in Dorico (yes, I know I can remap these, and I know I can get an external number pad…). It’s a bit of a buzzkill at the moment, to be honest.

What I’m especially needing to manage easily are various Alt+number combinations in the character map. I frequently use Alt+0169 for the copyright symbol, as well as curly quotes, em dashes, and other typographical specifics, like small caps and oldstyle figures.

I use AHK for some of this stuff, but it gets unwieldly. There are only so many key combinations I can safely give up in Dorico (or that I can remember!). What I’d love is a program that runs in the background, and a certain key command summons it as a popup, after which I can type a certain key to return a mapped character (like c to return a copyright symbol, or ’ to return a curly apostrophe), then the window goes away.

I hope that makes sense. I really don’t want any external devices, since that’s the whole reason I went with a smaller laptop that’s more portable. But I need a fast way to access various characters. I’d be interested to hear what others use for this sort of thing.

Does this trick still work? (I’m a Mac user, so I can’t test it.)

Unfortunately I don’t have a NumLock on my keyboard…

Do you have a Fn key? What do you get if you hold Fn+Alt and type the letters?

I’ve tried that numberpad in the middle of the keyboard before, and I find it pretty confusing! Holding out hope that there’s a macro-based solution.

After a bit of perusing, I’m sure this is something AutoHotKey could do… I just can’t figure out how to accomplish it.

I know you’re starting to max yourself out on key commands and short cuts, but perhaps for at least some of them you could use AHK to do an auto substitution.

When I used to daily drive a windows computer, I had a whole series of scripts like this.

Perhaps you could do some of the simpler things like:
::copyright ::©

This other program might help too:
https://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/typingaid-auto-complete-text-utility-for-windows/
It has a window that pops up.

Also, check this out:
https://www.fastkeysautomation.com/

Scroll down and look at the gif. There is an interface that can pop up so you don’t have to remember everything. Looks perfect.

Well, I’m quite happy to report that I’ve got a very satisfactory solution!

The code below is for AHK (Windows). When I press F12, it gives me a soft beep and a little tool tip telling me substitution is turned on. I’ve mapped things like curly quotes, the copyright symbol, and dedicated small caps in the font I’m using (Minion Pro), all to simple keys. Then pressing F12 again turns it off.

Here’s a sample of the code, just the first of the caps. Obviously there are other ways to do it, and if you’re using a different font, the Unicode will be different for some of these.

Lots of possibilities here for simple keyboard extensions, even stretching into Dorico itself. I know I’m not the first one to do this, but it’s a great solution for my problem. Long live compact keyboards!

F12::
	Sub := !Sub
	SoundBeep, Sub ? 600 : 400
	ToolTip, % "Substitution " . (Sub ? "ON" : "OFF")
	SetTimer, ToolTipOff, -1000
return

ToolTipOff:
	ToolTip
return

#If Sub
c::Send, {U+00A9}
m::Send, {U+2014}
n::Send, {U+2013}
q::Send, {U+201C}
r::Send, {U+201D}
w::Send, {U+2018}
e::Send, {U+2019}
+a::Send, {U+F761}
1 Like

I’ve made a few changes:

c - copyright
[hyphen] - en dash
[Shift-hyphen] - em dash
[semicolon] and [apostrophe] - right and left single curly quotes
Shift plus those: double quotes
Shift-A - small-caps A (in Minion Pro)

I’ll attach it here in case any Windows users have a similar need.

If anyone wants to expand on this functionality, or other AHK stuff, please feel free to share.
Typography Boost.zip (437 Bytes)