Free AutoHotkey Speed Reading App

Sit Back and Relax While You Exercise Your Brain. Who Doesn’t Want to Read Faster?

Who knew you could build a quick and dirty speed reading machine with AutoHotkey? Easy for anyone to use, like the “Vulcan Mind Meld”, it works quickly and effectively.

Have you ever wanted to improve your reading skills without spending big bucks? Now you can do it with a free AutoHotkey script. This quick and dirty app called SpeedReader models many of the commercial reading improvement programs.

The script open a windows and implements a technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP)—popular in digital speed reading systems. RSVP flashes one word at a time forcing your brain to absorb the concept quickly. This approach prevents readers from saying the words in their head—a major cause of slow reading.

The other feature of RSVP involves displaying each word (or words if you expand beyond one word at a time, see Figure 1 below) in the same spot on the screen, thus eliminating the need to move your eyes. Experts consider this an important technique for improving reading speed. (I haven’t used the app enough to attest to how well it works in the long run, but, hey, it can’t hurt!)

To test the app, copy text from almost any source and paste it into the text window. Hit the start button and sit back while you watch the words fly by. If too fast, hit ESC and set it to a slower speed. With a goal of slowly increasing the speed until you’re reading at an incredible rate, sit back—letting your brain do the work. Rather than working at reading, relax and just let it happen while your brain processes words in the background.

Theoretically, this exercise (15 minutes a day) will increase your reading speed. I found it easier when reading narrative text such as a novel while I needed a slower speed for technical articles. I can’t confirm the script’s effectiveness for increasing reading speeds in the long run, but this AutoHotkey script certainly flashes the words before your eyes at incredible speeds. I might help you break bad habits.


Figure 1. The SpeedReader AutoHotkey script flashes text in the window in the same spot as it scans through the copied sample to stimulate the reading process.

I tried it out on a couple of blocks of text. At first it was a little disconcerting, but eventually I relaxed and let the words pop into my head. I felt like Data from Star Trek effortlessly absorbing volumes of information from a computer screen. Then, I increased the speed until I didn’t have a clue what I was reading. If I truly want to find out if this technique works, I need to spend a little more time with it.

Since it was pertinent, I copied the text from “The Truth About Speed Reading” into SpeedReader—running it at 500 words per minute. How much I understood surprised me, but I’m not sure how much I remember. I certainly didn’t have time to move my lips. (If you’re afraid of psychosclerosis—hardening of the attitudes—then this may be a good way to effortlessly exercise your mind.)

How SpeedReader Works

The image in Figure 1 is a simulation of how the SpeedReader script works. Paste text copied from another digital source (document, Web page, etc.) into the reading window. Set the number of words in a group (1, 2, or 3), the number of words to jump and the speed in words per minute. Click the Read > button to start.

Use the left and right arrows to jump back or forward that number of words while running. The up and down arrows, as well as the slider control, change the reading speed. Hit SPACEBAR to pause. SPACEBAR again to resume. ESC to stop and ESC again to exit the program.

AutoHotkeyI made minor changes to the script isolating the SPACEBAR control to the app and resizing the window for my own purposes, but other than that, the code pretty much mimics the original.

If you would like to give it a try then I’ve posted the script SpeedReader.ahk at the ComputorEdge AutoHotkey download page. This file contains the code in text and requires the installation of the free AutoHotkey program—if you don’t already use AutoHotkey. (See “Installing AutoHotkey and Writing Your First Script for more information on how to get started.) Once you have the code file, then you can compile it into an EXE file which you can run on any Windows computer. It will blow your mind!


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