The Keys extension: an alternative method of sending keystrokes

Download Keys extension

Here is a Vocola 2 extension, Keys. It uses a different method of generating synthetic keystrokes and mouse events than SendDragonKeys, namely the Windows' SendInput call. This allows it to generate events unavailable with SendDragonKeys including:

(*) - As of DNS 12, Windows key shortcuts can also be pressed using SendSystemKeys, but not SendDragonKeys, using modifier name "win"; e.g., SendSystemKeys({win+shift+left}).


For now, Keys has one procedure, SendInput, whose usage is a superset of that of SendDragonKeys (with English key names). Here are some examples:

say hello world 
    = Keys.SendInput("Hello world!{enter}I am @ home{! 4}{enter}");

other monitor   = Keys.SendInput({win+shift+right});  # Windows 7+ shortcut
mute volume     = Keys.SendInput({VolumeMute});

(hold|release) the control key = Keys.SendInput({ctrl_$1});
  # really the primary mouse button:
(hold|release) the left button = Keys.SendInput({LeftButton_$1});

type naïve the hard way 
    = Keys.SendInput(na{alt_hold}

# remember Vocola 2 & Dragon use the Windows-1252 code page:
type naïve the easy way 
    = Keys.SendInput(naïve);

SendInput is immune to the doubling/dropping bug and has speed comparable to SendDragonKeys rather than the much slower SendSystemKeys. The main drawback is that you cannot use SendInput to send events to elevated windows when User Account Control (UAC) is turned on. Lesser drawbacks are that, unlike SendDragonKeys, already pressed keys do modify the sent characters (e.g., held shift key makes a into A) and the keys are sent completely asynchronously so waits may be required when mixing SendInput and other actions. I'm also not sure that every character works correctly on non-standard US keyboards yet (SendDragonKeys is known to fail here). Note also that you cannot invoke {win+l} (i.e., lock computer) or {ctrl+alt+Del} with any form of synthetic events for security reasons.

Follow the usual instructions for installing Vocola 2 extensions; note that all three of the included files must be placed in the extensions directory in order for the extension to work.

New keys available with SendInput

Here are some of the new keys available for pressing:

Win, LeftWin, RightWin, Apps, F17, F18, F19, F20, F21, F22, F23, F24, BrowserBack, BrowserFavorites, BrowserForward, BrowserHome, BrowserRefresh, BrowserSearch, BrowserStop, LaunchApp1, LaunchApp2, LaunchMail, LaunchMediaSelect, MediaNextTrack, MediaPlayPause, MediaPreviousTrack, MediaStop, VolumeDown, VolumeMute, and VolumeUp

As always, key names are case insensitive. You do not need to have a key physically present on your keyboard in order to virtually press it. {Apps} is a new modifier, the Windows applications key, which has a small picture of selecting from a menu on my keyboard at least. I believe it is usually equivalent to the menu you get when you do a right-click in most applications (also {shift+f10}).