Shard Detail

ahk_x11 v0.4.1

AutoHotkey for Linux (X11-based systems)

Install & Use

Add the following code to your project's shard.yml under:

dependencies to use in production
- OR -
development_dependencies to use in development

  github: phil294/AHK_X11



AutoHotkey for Linux.


MsgBox, AHK_X11 (*)

This project is usable, but WORK IN PROGRESS.

Scripts from Windows will usually NOT WORK without modifications. If you want this to become a reality, you're welcome to contribute, and/or join the AHK Discord's #ahk_x11 channel.

Requires X11, does not work with Wayland yet. This is important for Ubuntu version 22.04 and up (link)

Direct download (all Linux distributions, x86_64, single executable)


Go to installation instructions

DEMO VIDEO: Installation, script creation, compilation

AutoHotkey is "Powerful. Easy to learn. The ultimate automation scripting language for Windows.". This project tries to bring large parts of that to Linux.

More specifically: A very basic but functional reimplementation AutoHotkey v1.0.24 (2004) for Unix-like systems with an X window system (X11), written from ground up with Crystal/libxdo/crystal-gobject/x11-cr/, with the eventual goal of 80% feature parity, but most likely never full compatibility. Currently about 60% of work is done. This AHK is shipped as a single executable native binary with very low resource overhead and fast execution time.

Note that because of the old version of the spec (at least for now), many modern AHK features are missing, especially expressions (:=, % v), classes, objects and functions, so you probably can't just port your scripts from Windows. More to read: Project goals

You can use AHK_X11 to create stand-alone binaries with no dependencies, including full functionality like Hotkeys and GUIs. (just like on Windows)

Please also check out Keysharp, a WIP fork of IronAHK, another complete rewrite of AutoHotkey in C# that tries to be compatible with multiple OSes and support modern, v2-like AHK syntax with much more features than this one. In comparison, AHK_X11 is a lot less ambitious and more compact, and Linux only.


  • Hotkeys
  • Hotstrings
  • Window management (but some commands are still missing)
  • Send keys
  • Control mouse
  • File management (but some commands are still missing)
  • GUIs (partially done)
  • One-click compile script to portable stand-alone executable
  • Scripting: labels, flow control: If/Else, Loop
  • Window Spy
  • Graphical installer (optional)
  • Context menu and compilation just like on Windows


  • Interactive console (REPL)

AHK_X11 can be used completely without a terminal. You can however if you want use it console-only too. Graphical commands are optional, it also runs headless.

CLICK TO SEE WHICH COMMANDS ARE IMPLEMENTED AND WHICH ARE MISSING. Note however that this is not very representative. For example, no `Gui` sub command is included in the listing. For a better overview on what is already done, skim through the FULL DOCUMENTATION HERE.
DONE      42% (93/219):
+ Else, { ... }, Break, Continue, Return, Exit, GoSub, GoTo, IfEqual, Loop, SetEnv, Sleep, FileCopy,
+ SetTimer, WinActivate, MsgBox, Gui, SendRaw, #Persistent, ExitApp,
+ EnvAdd, EnvSub, EnvMult, EnvDiv, ControlSendRaw, IfWinExist/IfWinNotExist, SetWorkingDir,
+ FileAppend, Hotkey, Send, ControlSend, #Hotstring, Menu, FileCreateDir, FileDelete, IfMsgBox,
+ #SingleInstance, Edit, FileReadLine, FileSelectFile, FileSelectFolder, FileSetAttrib, FileSetTime,
+ IfNotEqual, If var [not] between, IfExist/IfNotExist, IfGreater/IfGreaterOrEqual,
+ IfInString/IfNotInString, IfLess/IfLessOrEqual, IfWinActive/IfWinNotActive, IniDelete, IniRead,
+ IniWrite, Loop (files & folders), Loop (read file contents), MouseClick, Pause, Reload,
+ StringGetPos, StringLeft, StringLen, StringLower, StringMid, StringReplace, StringRight,
+ StringUpper, Suspend, URLDownloadToFile, WinClose, WinGetPos, WinKill, WinMaximize, WinMinimize,
+ WinMove, WinRestore, MouseGetPos, MouseMove, GetKeyState, KeyWait, ControlClick, WinGetText,
+ WinGetTitle, WinGetClass, PixelGetColor, CoordMode, GuiControl, ControlGetPos, ControlGetText,
+ WinGet, Input, Loop (parse a string), ToolTip, If var [not] in/contains MatchList, ControlSetText,
+ PixelSearch, #Include

NEW       4% (8/219): (not part of spec or from a more recent version)
@@ Echo, ahk_x11_print_vars, FileRead, RegExGetPos, RegExReplace, EnvGet, @@
@@ ahk_x11_track_performance_start, ahk_x11_track_performance_stop @@

REMOVED   5% (12/219):
# ### Those that simply make no sense in Linux:
# EnvSet, EnvUpdate, PostMessage, RegDelete, RegRead, RegWrite, SendMessage, #InstallKeybdHook,
# #InstallMouseHook, #UseHook, Loop (registry)
# ### Skipped for other reasons:
# AutoTrim: It's always Off. It would not differentiate between %a_space% and %some_var%.
#           It's possible but needs significant work.

TO DO     47% (102/219): alphabetically
- BlockInput, ClipWait, Control, ControlFocus, ControlGet, ControlGetFocus,
- ControlMove,
- DetectHiddenText, DetectHiddenWindows, Drive, DriveGet, DriveSpaceFree,
- FileCopyDir, FileCreateShortcut,
- FileInstall, FileGetAttrib, FileGetShortcut, FileGetSize, FileGetTime, FileGetVersion,
- FileMove, FileMoveDir, FileRecycle, FileRecycleEmpty, FileRemoveDir,
- FormatTime, GroupActivate, GroupAdd,
- GroupClose, GroupDeactivate, GuiControlGet,
- If var is [not] type,
- InputBox, KeyHistory, ListHotkeys, ListLines, ListVars,
- MouseClickDrag, OnExit,
- Process, Progress, Random, RunAs, SetBatchLines,
- SetCapslockState, SetControlDelay, SetDefaultMouseSpeed, SetFormat, SetKeyDelay, SetMouseDelay,
- SetNumlockState, SetScrollLockState, SetStoreCapslockMode, SetTitleMatchMode,
- SetWinDelay, Shutdown, Sort, SoundGet, SoundGetWaveVolume, SoundPlay, SoundSet,
- SoundSetWaveVolume, SplashImage, SplashTextOn, SplashTextOff, SplitPath, StatusBarGetText,
- StatusBarWait, StringCaseSense, StringSplit, StringTrimLeft, StringTrimRight,
- SysGet, Thread, Transform, TrayTip, WinActivateBottom,
- WinGetActiveStats, WinGetActiveTitle,
- WinHide, WinMenuSelectItem, WinMinimizeAll,
- WinMinimizeAllUndo, WinSet, WinSetTitle, WinShow, WinWait, WinWaitActive,
- WinWaitClose, WinWaitNotActive, #CommentFlag, #ErrorStdOut, #EscapeChar,
- #HotkeyInterval, #HotkeyModifierTimeout, #MaxHotkeysPerInterval, #MaxMem,
- #MaxThreads, #MaxThreadsBuffer, #MaxThreadsPerHotkey, #NoTrayIcon, #WinActivateForce

Also planned, even though it's not part of 1.0.24 spec:
- ImageSearch
- Maybe some kind of OCR command
- #IfWinActive (the directive)

Showcase of scripts

  • Vimium Everywhere: Keyboard navigation for the whole desktop
  • Activity monitor: Demonstrates keyboard tracking, window, control listing and more
  • ...did you create something with AHK_X11 that could potentially be useful to others too? Suggestions for this list? Please open an issue or write me a mail!



  • X11 and GTK are the only dependencies. You most likely have them already. Wayland support would be cool too some day.
  • Old distros like Debian before 10 (Buster) or Ubuntu before 18.04 are not supported (reason). Otherwise, it should not matter what system you use.

Then, you can download the latest binary from the release section. Make the downloaded file executable and you should be good to go.

There is no auto updater yet! (but planned) You will probably want to get the latest version then and again.


There are different ways to use it.

  1. The graphical way, like on Windows: Running the program directly opens up the interactive installer.
    • Once installed, all .ahk files are associated with AHK_X11, so you can simply double click them.
    • Also adds the Compiler into Open as... Menus.
    • Also adds Window Spy to your applications. It looks something like this.
  2. Command line: Pass the script to execute as first parameter, e.g. ./ahk_x11 "path to your script.ahk"
    • Once your script's auto-execute section has finished, you can also execute arbitrary single line commands in the console. Code blocks aren't supported yet in that situation. Those single lines each run in their separate threads, which is why variables like %ErrorLevel% will always be 0.
    • When you don't want to pass a script, you can specify --repl instead (implicit #Persistent).
    • If you want to pass your command from stdin instead of file, do it like this: ./ahk_x11 /dev/stdin <<< 'MsgBox'.
    • Compile scripts with ./ahk_x11 --compile "path/script.ahk"
    • Run Window Spy with ./ahk_x11 --windowspy
    • Hashbang supported if first line starts with #!



All commands or command options related to Controls (e.g. ControlClick or WinGetText) relies on assistive technologies. While almost all windows support this, this typically needs adjustments on the running system. Read the documentation section on accessibility for instructions.

Focus stealing prevention

Some Linux distros offer a configurable setting for focus stealing prevention. Usually, it's default off. But if you have activated it, window focus changing actions like MsgBox or WinActivate will not work as expected: A MsgBox will appear hidden behind the active window. This can be useful to prevent accidental popup dismissal but when you don't like that, you have three options:

  • disable said setting

  • use the always on top setting of MsgBox

  • hack around it with code
    SetTimer, MsgBoxToFront, 1
    MsgBox, Hello
    SetTimer, MsgBoxToFront, off
    ; You might want to adjust the matching criteria, especially for compiled scripts
    WinActivate ahk_class ahk_x11


(*) The MsgBox picture at the top was taken on a XFCE system with Chicago95 installed, a theme that resembles Win95 look&feel. On your system, it will look like whatever GTK popups always look like.

Incompatibilities with Windows versions

Like covered above, AHK_X11 is vastly different to modern Windows-AutoHotkey because it is 1. missing its more recent features and 2. there are still several features missing. Apart from that, there are a few minor incompatibilities between AHK_X11 and the then-Windows-AutoHotkey 1.0.24:

  • #NoEnv is the default, this means, to access environment variables, you'll have to use EnvGet.
  • All arguments are always evaluated only at runtime, even if they are static. This can lead to slightly different behavior or error messages at runtime vs. build time.
  • Several more small subtle differences highlighted in green throughout the docs page

Besides, it should be noted that undocumented == undefined.


These are the steps required to build this project locally, such as if you want to contribute to the project. Please open an issue if anything doesn't work.


  1. Install development versions of prerequisites.
    1. Ubuntu 20.04 and up:
      1. Dependencies
        sudo apt-get install libxinerama-dev libxkbcommon-dev libxtst-dev libgtk-3-dev libxi-dev libx11-dev libgirepository1.0-dev libatspi2.0-dev libssl-dev
      2. Install Crystal and Shards (Shards is typically included in Crystal installation)
    2. Arch Linux:
      sudo pacman -S crystal shards gcc libxkbcommon libxinerama libxtst gtk3 gc
  2. git clone
  3. cd AHK_X11
  4. shards install
  5. Run various library tweaks with ./ This is mostly WIP and hacked together, so if anything doesn't work, please open an issue.
  6. Now everything is ready for local use with shards build -Dpreview_mt, if you have libxdo (xdotool) version 2021* upwards installed. For version 2016*, you'll need to upgrade this dependency somehow. One way to achieve this is explained below.
    Read on for a cross-distro compatible build.
  7. To make AHK_X11 maximally portable, various dependencies should be statically linked. This is especially important because of the script compilation feature: You can use the binary to transform a script into a new stand-alone binary, and that resulting binary should be portable across various Linux distributions without ever requiring the user to install any dependencies. Here is an overview of all dependencies. All of this was tested on Ubuntu 18.04. (Update: this entire section is still correct, but not future proof and WIP, see #24)
    • Should be statically linked:
      • libxdo. Additionally to the above reasons, it isn't backwards compatible (e.g. Ubuntu 18.04 and 20.04 versions are incompatible) and may introduce even more breaking changes in the future. Also, we fix a rarely occurring fatal error here (probably Crystal-specific?). So,
        • clone xdotool somewhere, in there,
        • in xdo.c, after data = xdo_get_window_property_by_atom(xdo, wid, request, &nitems, &type, &size);, add another if(data == NULL) return XDO_ERROR;
        • run make clean && make libxdo.a and then copy the file libxdo.a into our static folder (create if it doesn't exist yet).
      • Dependencies of libxdo: libxkbcommon, libXtst, libXi, libXinerama and libXext. The static libraries should be available from your package manager dependencies installed above so normally there's nothing you need to do.
      • Other (crystal dependencies?), also via package manager: libevent_pthreads, libevent, and libpcre
      • libgc is currently shipped and linked automatically by Crystal itself so there is no need for it
      • libssl and libcrypto because Ubuntu 22.04 introduced an abi version bump
    • Stays dynamically linked:
      • libgtk-3 and its dependencies, because afaik Gtk is installed everywhere, even on Qt-based distros. If you know of any common distribution that does not include Gtk libs by default please let me know. Gtk does also not officially support static linking. libgtk-3, libgd_pixbuf-2.0, libgio-2.0, libgobject-2.0, libglib-2.0, libgobject-2.0
      • glibc / unproblematic libraries according to this list: libX11, libm, libpthread, librt, libdl.
  8. All in all, once you have libxdo.a inside the folder static, the following builds the final binary which should be very portable: shards build -Dpreview_mt --link-flags="-no-pie -L$PWD/static -Wl,-Bstatic -lxdo -lxkbcommon -lXinerama -lXext -lXtst -lXi -levent_pthreads -levent -lpcre -Wl,-Bdynamic". When not in development, increase optimizations and runtime speed by adding --release. The resulting binary is about 4.7 MiB in size.
  9. Attach the installer with bin/ahk_x11 --compile src/installer.ahk tmp && mv tmp bin/ahk_x11. Explanation: The installer is not shipped separately and instead bundled with the binary by doing this. Bundling is the same thing as compiling a script as a user. As you can see, it is possible to repeatedly compile a binary, with each script being appended at the end each time. Only the last one actually executed - and only if no params are passed to the program. There's no point in compiling multiple times, but it allows us to ship a default script (the installer) for when no arguments are passed. In other words, this is possible for a user: ahk_x11 --compile script1.ahk && ./script1 --compile script2.ahk && ./script2 but no one will ever do that.


AHK_X11 is an interpreted language, not a compiled one. This means that no compile time optimizations take place on your script code, apart from some validation and reference placements. Also, all variables are of type String. So you probably wouldn't want to use it for performance-critical applications. However, the tool itself is written in Crystal and thus compiled and optimized for speed, so everything should still be reasonably fast. The speed of some of the slower commands depends on either libxdo or X11 and it's not yet clear whether there is much room for improvement. Some tests run on a 3.5 GHz machine:

Parsing a single line takes about 30 µs (this happens once at startup), and execution time depends on what a command does:

  • x = 1: 70 ns (0.00000007 s)
  • FileRead, x, y.txt: 10 µs (0.00001 s)
  • WinGetTitle, A: 87 µs (0.000087 s)
  • Send, a: 530 µs (0.00053 s)
  • Clipboard = a: 6 ms (0.006 s)
  • SendRaw, a: 9 ms (0.009 s) (??)
  • WinActivate, title: 60 ms (0.06 s)
  • WinGetText: 0-3 s (!)

You can run fine-grained benchmarks with the following special hidden instruction:

Loop, 1000
    Send, a

prints something like:

[{"send", count: 1000, total: 00:00:00.530032328>},
 {"loop", count: 1001, total: 00:00:00.000206347>}]

More tips:

  • Some values are cached internally while the thread is running, so repeated commands may run faster
  • The first time an AtSpi-related command (Control*, WinGetText, ... see "Accessibility" section in the docs) runs, the interface needs to be initialized which can take some time (0-5s)
  • Searching for windows is slow. Querying the active window is not. Also, windows are internally cached by their ID during the lifetime of the thread, so typically e.g. the matching criteria WinActivate, ahk_id %win_id% will be much much faster than WinActivate, window name.


If you feel like it, you are welcome to contribute! The language in use, Crystal, is resembling Ruby syntax also great for beginners.

This program has a very modular structure due to its nature which should make it easier to add features. Most work pending is just implementing commands, as almost everything more complicated is now bootstrapped. Simply adhere to the 2004 spec chm linked above. There's documentation blocks all across the source.

Commands behave mostly autonomous. See for example src/cmd/file/ All that is needed for most commands is min_args, max_args, the run implementation and the correct class name: The last part of the class name (here FileCopy) is automatically inferred to be the actual command name in scripts. Regarding run: Anything can happen here, but several commands will access the thread or thread.runner, mostly for thread.runner.get_user_var, thread.get_var and thread.runner.set_user_var.

GUI: Several controls and their options still need to be translated into GTK. For that, both the GTK Docs for C and lib/gobject/src/gtk/ are helpful.

A more general overview:

  • src/build does the parsing etc. and is mostly complete
  • src/run/runner and src/run/thread are worth looking into, this is the heart of the application and where global and thread state is stored
  • src/cmd contains all commands exposed to the user.
  • There's three libraries included which somehow interact with the X server: for automatization (window, keyboard, mouse), crystal-gobject for Gtk (Gui, MsgBox, and Atspi (control handling,, and x11-cr for low-level X interaction (hotkeys, hotstrings,

There's also several TODO:s scattered around all source files mostly around technical problems that need some revisiting.

While Crystal brings its own hidden ::Thread class, any reference to Thread in the source refers to Run::Thread which actually are no real threads (see Run::Thread docs).

Current commits are collected in the development branch and then merged into master for each release.


For bugs and feature requests, please open up an issue, or check the Discord or Forum.