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How to Launch Multiple Apps at Once in Windows 7 With a Single Shortcut

00_launching_a_profile

You probably have several applications that you run in Windows 7 to do your daily work, surf the web, etc. Wouldn’t it be handy if you can use the mouse or a hotkey to start all those applications at once?

We found a small, portable utility for Windows 7, called Windows 7 App Launcher (7APL), that allows you to launch multiple applications at once using a hotkey or the Windows 7 jump lists feature. You create profiles containing all the applications you want to start at once and apply a hotkey to each profile.

7APL does not need to be installed. Simply extract the .zip file and double-click the .exe file.

If you want to be able to run profiles from a jump list, right-click on the 7APL .exe file and select Pin to Taskbar from the popup menu.

7APL opens to the Welcome tab. You can change some basic applications settings on this tab.

You can also run Windows 7APL in Gadget mode, using a gadget to access your profiles. To do this, select the Start 7APL in Gadget Mode check box and set the Behavior for the gadget. Choose the hotkey to activate the gadget in the Gadget Hot key section.

02_7apl_welcome_tab

To create a new profile, click the New Profile tab. Enter a name for the profile in the edit box and click Create Profile.

03_creating_new_profile

A new tab with the profile name is created. To add an application to the profile, click Browse.

04_clicking_browse_to_add_program

Navigate to the program folder for the application you want to add. Select the .exe file for the application and click Open.

The path to the application displays in the Add an application edit box. Click Include.

06_clicking_include

The application is added to the list box on the right side of the 7APL window. The icon from the first application you add to the profile becomes the icon for the profile. To change this, double-click on the image below Associate a profile picture or drag a picture into the area containing the current picture.

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Browse for additional programs and include them to complete your list of applications for this profile.

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In the Specify your hot key section, choose a key combination for the profile to start all the applications at once. Select Ctrl, Alt, and/or Shift and click in the edit box to enter a letter to press.

NOTE: 7APL must be running (it can be minimized) for the hotkey to work.

Toggle Mode allows you to close the applications you launched in a profile at once by clicking the same button you used to open them. We will discuss setting a profile as a category later in this article.

09_setting_hotkey

Once you have set up your profile, click Save/Update.

10_clicking_save_update

The profile is saved in the profiles folder in the folder containing the 7APL .exe file.

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You can launch the profile from within 7APL by clicking Launch Profile. Of course, you can also use the hotkey to launch the profile.

12_clicking_launch_profile

If you have an Aero enabled in Windows 7, you can use the thumbnail preview to launch the profile. Move the mouse over the 7APL icon on the Taskbar until the thumbnail preview displays. If you only have one profile, that profile displays automatically. If you have more than one, use the red right and left arrow buttons to navigate among your profiles to choose one. To run the currently selected profile, click the green up arrow button. If you have set the profile as a category, it is not available on the thumbnail preview and the behavior is slightly different.

13_launching_profile_from_taskbar_thumbnail

You can use the jump list on the 7APL Taskbar icon to launch separate applications within a profile. This makes 7APL act like a small application launcher. Each profile you create becomes a category. To set a profile as a category, select the Set profile as category check box under Other settings. Click the settings link that displays.

14_setting_profile_as_category

The Categories Settings Menu window displays listing all the applications in the current profile. When setting a profile as a category, you can create an alias for each application so the applications have names on the jump list instead of the full path being displayed. To create an alias for an application, select the application in the list. The Full Path displays below the list box so you know for which application you are creating the alias. Enter an alias for the application in the edit box and click Update Alias.

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The alias for each application displays before the full path in the list box. When you have created an alias for each application, click Save/Exit to save them and close the dialog box.

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Now, when you click the green up arrow button on the thumbnail preview the following dialog box displays. If you want to launch all the applications in the profile, click Yes. This dialog box also displays if you have Toggle Mode activated for a profile set as a category and you press the green up arrow button again after opening all the applications in the profile.

17_profile_set_as_category

To open a profile you set as a category, right-click on the 7APL Taskbar icon. The 7APL program does not need to be open to do this. The jump list displays. The profile displays in the Tasks section with a red right arrow button to the left of the name. “Switch to” has been added to the profile name instead of “Launch.” For example, our profile becomes Switch to Writing as a category. Select the Switch to <profile name> Task to open the category.

18_profile_as_category_on_jumplist

All the applications in the profile display as Tasks. You can now open each application separately. This is useful if there are ever times when you don’t need to open all the applications at once, but only need one or two of them. You can quickly open any of the applications in a profile. You can still open them all at once using the green up arrow button on the thumbnail preview, as shown above, or using the hotkey.

7APL is a very handy tool if you use the same applications on a daily basis.

Download Windows 7 App Launcher from http://se7eniiix.deviantart.com/art/Windows-7-App-Launcher-7APL-134051492.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 01/9/12

Comments (11)

  1. michel

    Can this be used to open multiple FILES at once? I have projects in Word divided into files and I hate having to open two or more seperately.

    Otherwise, it seems overly complicated.

  2. bus

    a simple batch file can do the same thing, and is less complex.

  3. wardog

    Yes way too much busy work for little productivity savings over a Hotkeyboard style program to launch most used proggys. Plus lot of apps clash it run together too fast. But thanks anyway.

  4. HappyNewYear

    Wow, what a massively convoluted way of doing a ridiculously simple thing.

    Step 1: create a new .txt file on your desktop.
    Step 2: paste the following template – edit the stuff in quotes to your liking. Add or delete however many items as you want. Notice that it accepts both programs and files.

    @echo off

    start “name1” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”
    start “name2” “C:\Windows\notepad.exe”
    start “name3” “E:\Users\YourUserName\Desktop\hello_world.txt”
    start “name4” “D:\Porn\HiglyQuestionablePron\SuperDeviantPorn\im_kidding_you_perv.txt”

    Step 3: save .txt file
    Step 4: rename .txt to .bat

    Step A (optional): rename and move .bat file to wherever you want.
    Step B (optional): pin .bat file to Win7 Taskbar or Win7 Toolbar menu.

    1 file, 2 minutes, no additional programs, a helluva lot easier.

    HTG = 80% great articles, 20% thoughtless crap, and the latter number has recently started to rise. If you want to introduce new software – fine, but how do you not at least link to (or even mention) a solution that is far easier, native to Windows, and been around for ages? Do you guys ever bother to check Google before you write?

    “how to open multiple files shortcut”
    3,610,000 results (0.21 seconds)

  5. HappyNewYear

    Oh,

    Step C (optional): assign icon and/or hotkey natively in Win7 by right-clicking > properties.

  6. emar1000

    I always like to try new apps just to see how good they are, however; this is one I wont even consider. After just getting a glimps at the steps I knew it was a waste of time. Like mentioned above..just use a batch file.

  7. K@RiS

    LOL!!! You got to love when programmers re-invent the wheel !!

  8. Steve-O-Rama

    I don’t think we’re the intended audience for this application. I may be stereotyping, but given that it’s on a Deviant Art URL, this may be more geared toward the non-technical users out there. In which case, it looks like it’ll do the job.

    Why won’t I use it?
    1. For the reason others have mentioned: batch files. Or heck, even the Startup folder. So many other ways to do this without yet another program on my system.
    2. I’m an idiot, and would likely forget I made the batch file, or I’d launch the wrong one. Or I’d forget I had downloaded this program and it’d be something else just sitting in the Downloads folder.
    3. I don’t have a problem clicking on the few icons I must in order to use the programs I need; I currently have EAGLE, Chrome, Notepad++, Adobe Acrobat, a couple of circuit simulation suites, and Excel, running. But earlier today, I had only Firefox and some Rigol oscilloscope-related stuff going. Then only Chrome immediately after that. So you see, there’s not really a ‘usual’ setup.

    That last point probably didn’t need its own number, but I thought I’d throw in there the geek’s stereotypical case of using only what s/he needs at a given time. Sure these modern systems have great amounts of RAM, but I still keep my ‘footprint’ as low as possible. :)

  9. Sebastien

    This is,0. Just make a batch file if you are a “geek”

  10. Alex

    A batch script will do the job easily. Been using one for couple of years now.

  11. StarsLikeDust

    I think Steve-O-Rama has it right we’re not quite the target audience for this particular application. that Said long ago I replicated this same functionality with Rocket Dock launchers pointed at batch scripts and find it quite handy. While the post isn’t quite as useful to me personally it could be handy later when I want to recommend something to a friend or relative.

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