Using AutoHotkey to Ease Dentrix Document Center Woes

One of the difficult things to do in Dentrix’s Document Center is to add a multiple page document. In our office we scan all documents destined to Dentrix Document Center quickly with a ScanSnap S510 scanner. This remarkable printer does front and back scanning at a rate of 3 seconds per page. It is not, however, a TWAIN compliant scanner, so we scan all documents to the Desktop, and acquire them as files from Dentrix Document Center.

Expand the Tree

Dentrix Document Center opens with all of the file tree collapsed. I like to add an additional Expand List icon to the left end of the Acquire toolbar, just above the patient’s photo in the tree. However if you are into using keyboard shortcuts, you may be disappointed with the “+” key’s ability to only expand the tree one level down. A more powerful alternative is to add a script which enables the “+” key on the number pad to open the entire structure.


The steps just for acquiring a one-page document are only easy after burning the pathways into your head. To make things simple I use AutoHotkey to quickly insert a document. The script is loaded at the beginning of the day and enables several keyboard shortcuts using the keyboard’s numberpad. By pressing Alt+1 (“Alt” and then “1” on the numberpad), commands are sent to open the Import screen of the last folder viewed (in our case it is the Desktop folder). Simply double-click on the first page of the document scanned, and the Document Information screen appears.

Add Pages

Adding subsequent pages to a multi-page document is where things get difficult in Document Center. Instead of hunting down icons, we simply press Alt+2 (on the numberpad) and the Import screen reappears, awaiting selection of the document’s next page. This can be executed repeatedly until reaching the document’s final page. After the document is complete, close the editing mode by hitting the Modify Document icon again (on some computers it will be highlighted on the toolbar when it is open).

In order for this hotkey to work correctly, one must assign a hotkey in Dentrix Document Center. Select an existing, unsigned document, and click on the Modify Document icon (alternatively you can hit Alt-E, O). Then right-click on the UltraToolbar1 that appears and select “Customize”…. (it is the toolbar with Copy to Clipboard, Add Page…). Select “Keyboard…”. In the Commands section, scroll down the alphabetical list to “Import From File…” and left-click on it once. At the bottom of the window select the drop-down button under “Specify a Shortcut” and select “Ins” from the list. Then hit Close. (If you have already assigned "Ins” to another key, you’ll need to assign Import from File to another hotkey and edit the script below accordingly).


One last order of business is signing the documents to lock them up and make them more legally sound. I do not have any signature pads, but I do have a Tablo stylus system (I got for a steal on Woot one day) mounted to a clipboard on my desk. The third script works for me, but you will most likely need to edit this script to make it work for your setup.

One problem with the signature screen in Dentrix Document Center is that it always pops up in the upper left, unlike its behavior in Dentrix Chart. My script opens the signature window and moves it down to the same spot Dentrix Chart puts it. This is key for a clip-on tablet system like I have. You may need to tweak the numbers in order to send the box to the desired coordinates. Nevertheless, if screen position is not important to you, simply remove the WinWait and WinMove lines from the script.

All I have to do after acquiring the document is to hit Alt+3 to pop open the signature window. This system of using AutoHotkey to assign Alt+1, Alt+2, and Alt+3 has made integrating Dentrix’s digital document handling incredibly more efficient.

AutoHotkey can be used for many more tasks in the dental operatory, but that’s the subject of another post.

The Script

In order to get the script to work, just paste the following into an AutoHotkey .ahk file. (For more information, see my previous article about using AutoHotkey to send text messages from Dentrix.)

; Script for acquiring from file in Document Center
#IfWinActive Dentrix Document Center
Send !a
Send f

; Script for acquiring additional page from file in Document Center
#IfWinActive Dentrix Document Center
Send !e
sleep 300
Send o
sleep 300
send {INSERT}

; Script for opening Document Center signature pad in a managable location
#IfWinActive Dentrix Document Center
Send !e
sleep 300
Send s
WinWait,Sign Document
WinMove,Sign Document,,500,380

9 Responses to “Using AutoHotkey to Ease Dentrix Document Center Woes”

  1. Hi Dana,
    I found your blog while looking up Dentrix and becoming paperless. We currently use Dentrix at our practice but only the appointment book and ledger for insurance billing. We were looking for a scanner to scan in all of our old patient information and thank you for the suggestion on the ScanSnap. I was wondering, did you also scan in your x-rays and if so, are they diagnostic quality?

    Thank you and great blog!

  2. Sharlene, I thought I had responded to you, but apparently I never sent it. We are currently not “paperless”, with PANs and forms being the last frontiers. The “experts” recommend not trying to scan everything in the paper chart. Just keep them around and start phasing them out in a few years.

    The first thing I would do is get computers in each operatory. That way the DDS can enter all charting notes there. Laptops are a cheap way to go, as they have great resale value in a couple of years, but can be stolen easily. For radiographs, we use Dexis, and did not try to scan old films in. We have a standard PAN machine and do scan every PAN made with an Epson Expression 1680. It is a full sheet transparency scanner that is diagnostic quality. In fact I send the original on with the patient to the OMFS and keep the scan. It is not fast enough to scan documents or many old films. It is 5 years old, and I’m sure it has been replaced with something designed with Windows 7 in mind. For documents I strongly recommend a ScanSnap scanner. Mine was discontinued, but the S1500 is GREAT. Scan pages as JPG to your desktop, then import them from Document Center.

    We are getting ready to enter the final frontier – forms. We’ll get a couple of iPads (when they release the next generation) and use Dentrix’s online forms manager. Can’t wait!

  3. autokey does text messages, but do you have auto emails sent? if so how? we used dental senders however they are now charging.

  4. hopefully you can email a response. i am not familiar otherwise

  5. Good question, scott! I’ll work up a script to do emails very soon.

  6. Thank you! I’ve been trying to add the ScanSnap to Dentrix Document Scanner and their support couldn’t help me, but your solution (“[not a] TWAIN compliant scanner, so we scan all documents to the Desktop, and acquire them as files from Dentrix Document Center” is exactly what I needed. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Glad to help, Erich! I picked the Desktop because even in older software there is a set link to it in all of the Open and Save dialog boxes. Plus a simple Win-D keystroke puts your there quickly so you can delete the file once you’ve imported it.

    I really wish that Dentrix would publish a way to get items into that Unfiled Documents area OTHER than printing to the Document Center printer driver. I’ve tried setting up a ScanSnap profile that would directly print to that driver, but it didn’t work (I think ScanSnap will only send to the default printer, and I don’t want DocCtr to be that default printer. It’s been a while since I messed it) I WISH that they would implement something like iTunes’ “Import to iTunes” folder; a folder that is watched and any additions are immediately sent to the Unfiled Documents. I don’t know why, but the UD area is easier to deal with than Importing from a desktop file, though the number of keystrokes is significantly equal.

  8. Dana, great info above. Did you ever make an autohotkey script that sends emails (versus texts)? The Dentrix SendMessage function (which my front desk uses frequently to email patients) is not MAPI-compliant and doesn’t work with modern e-mail clients. Most of my office uses Thunderbird (free and works well). A few machines are stuck with the terrible Outlook Express becuase it works with the SendMessage function. Thanks.

  9. This can certainly be adapted to use any email client you wish. Of course, it would scrape the email address to ClipSaved3 instead of the cell #, then launch the email client of choice (for me it launches Gmail instead of Voice). If you use a Windows-based email client, the run line would give the exact path to the email client’s .exe file, then you probably sleep long enough for it to fully launch – there can be many variations here depending on the client. Does that help