Signo: delivers a wide range of functions at your fingertips (via hotkey)


The concept behind this free program is to “automate repetitive tasks”. It presents a wide range of functions involving text insertion and automation, launching apps or URLs, manipulating windows on the desktop, grabbing screenshots, and optimizing programs in memory.

You can launch functions via keyboard shortcuts or in many cases from the program’s icon in the system tray.

This is one of those programs that are difficult to write about just because they contain so many functions and do many things.

In some ways Signo is comparable to such automation tools as AutoHotkey, although it is less complex and more accessible. However, unlike AutoHotkey Signo does not have a scripting component so it is not a full fledged macro engine and development environment.

Aside from its accessibly what I also like about Signo is that it is very small (occupies a mere 9 megs in memory); I also like that it can give you a sort of “shortcut report” for your system that displays all of its keyboard shortcuts as well as ones that are used by other apps and by Windows (part of which is in fact pictured in the screenshot above).

Here are 7 (Seven!) cool things that this program can do:

  1. Snap windows to the edges of the screen: in the style of Windows 7, using keyboard shortcuts (Alt+Win+Up/left/right/top/bottom).
  2. Minimize to tray: (Ctrl+Win+T) will minimize the current window or app to the tray. Interestingly, you can minimize all windows to the tray in one fell swoop by pressing (Ctrl+Win+Z).
  3. Signo TrayLaunch apps and URLs: from the system tray or via hotkey.
  4. Auto corrections (and abbreviations): we’ve seen this before with AutoHotkey; you can add frequently misspelled words to a list such that every time you type in a misspelling it is automatically corrected for you.
  5. Insert predefined text: you can either set a custom hotkey that would insert a specified text, or define a “textkey” that you can type in and watch it magically being transformed to your predefined text (e.g. you can set “#sig” to automatically insert your signature/name/etc. inside the text you’re writing).
  6. Optimize applications’ memory utilization: this program is by the same developer who released Minimem, an excellent memory optimization utility designed to reduce the memory footprint of individual programs. It would appear that they have incorporated that program’s functionality into Signo such that you could add any app from within Signo and create a shortcut that would optimize its memory use. Super cool!. For browsers use the predefined Shift+Win+B if your browser starts gobbling up large amounts of RAM.
  7. Signo context menuContext menu of functions, anywhere: Ctrl+Alt+leftmouse will display a handy context menu of Signo functions anywhere you happen to be at that time.

Wish list: (or how this program can be even better)

  • Disabling functions: although it is possible to delete functions you don’t want, I found myself wishing I could simply de-activate them without deleting (as it is you have the option to export them then delete, which keeps the option to re-import later if you want to).
  • The screenshot function: needs to be improved. I was not able to capture a screenshot of a context menu (the program kept releasing it for me), wasn’t able to define a quality setting for my saved JPG, wasn’t able to attach a suffix or prefix to filenames. A “Repeat last capture” function would also be good.

The verdict: a nice program overall. If you find that it contains a bit too many functions and shortcuts you can always remove the ones that you don’t want and customize the keyboard shortcuts if needed. And at 9 megs in memory, Signo manages to be both powerful and small. Check it out.

Version Tested: 1.4

Compatibility: Windows 2003, Vista, Server 2008, 2000, XP, Windows 7.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 2.46 megs).