Do you want a lightweight, ultra-quick, easy-to-access note-taking solution? Search online, and you’ll find countless suggestions for such apps. And yet, even the “lightest” ones are often clunky and can come with features you personally might consider useless.

So, let’s take a look at how you can create your own ultra-light, blazing-fast, custom note-taking app using AutoHotkey. A simple, no-frills note-taking solution that’ll be able to instantly pop up on your screen with the press of a single key.

Create a Note Taking Plan with AutoHotkey

Let’s start by clearly stating your end goal and creating a simple plan to get there.

For this project, we don’t need any fancy text formatting, support for templates, or other “advanced” features. Our goal?

And that’s it—no extra windows, dialogs, menus, or buttons.

Thankfully, it’s easy to create such a project with AutoHotkey, as we’ll see next. Feel free to follow along even if you haven’t used AutoHotkey before. However, it might be best if you first checked out our quick AutoHotkey guide for beginners.

How to install AutoHotkey

Since AutoHotkey is a third-party solution, in order to use it, you need to have it installed.

So, head over to the official site of AutoHotkey, and click on the friendly green download button. Skip both the V1 (deprecated) and V2 (beta) versions, and choose to download the current version. Then, install it on your computer.

You won’t be able to notice any changes afterwards because AutoHotkey only acts as a parser for AutoHotkey scripts. In other words, AutoHotkey automatically “does nothing”. Instead, it serves as the platform on which we will build further scripts.

How to Create a New Script in AutoHotkey

Open your favorite file manager, such as Windows File Explorer, and point it at the directory where you want to create your new script. You can choose any directory from your Desktop to your Personal Documents folder.

After installing AutoHotkey the easiest way to create a new AutoHotkey script is by taking advantage of the new option available through the right-click context menu. Right-click an empty space in the file manager’s window, and from the menu that appears, choose New > AutoHotkey Script.

Since AutoHotkey scripts are actually plain text files, you can alternatively create a new text file and then rename it from TXT to AHK. The end result will be the same: you’ll have a new blank AutoHotkey script.

Start your favorite text or code editor and open the script there to edit it. For this article, we will be using Notepad++, but you can use VS Code or any similar tool like Atom.

Of course, if you prefer to keep things simple, you can always use good old Notepad that comes with Windows.

Creating a GUI in AutoHotkey

To ease future customization of our script, let’s store the necessary information in two variables.

The first one, which we named NotesPath, is mapped to the full path where we want our script to save our notes. Please, remember to replace the path with the one you want to use. Otherwise, your notes will be saved in an unexpected location, or the script will fail.

The second, which we named FileNameExtra, holds a string that we’ll use for the filenames of our notes. Each note’s file will be named after a “sanitized” version of its title, followed by this string.

Typically, AutoHotkey is used to affect other windows, as we saw in our article on how to center any window on your screen with AutoHotkey, or to create hotkeys that you can use AutoHotkey for. Check out our guide on creating app-specific hotkeys with .

However, in this scenario, we’ll be relying heavily on AutoHotkey’s GUI creation capabilities, which many people forget about. AutoHotkey taps into “Windows”‘s own “Window Toolkit”. This enables the creation of GUIs with all the common elements you’d expect to find in a “standard” OS window, from text fields and drop-down menus to buttons and scrollbars.

Thankfully, since we’re making a simple and “lite” note-taking app, the project won’t be complicated and thus, relatively easy to craft.

We also won’t add a “Cancel” button because we’ll map that function to the Escape key on the keyboard and the window closing action.

Add the line below to your script – this basically tells “AutoHotkey” that any element should have font “size 14” and color “666666”.

Next, change the font size to 12 and its color to 4444444 for any elements that come after that line.

Then, add a large editable text box for the actual contents of the note, map it to a note variable, and pre-populate it with whatever is already in the clipboard.

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