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Beginner: How To Launch any Program in Windows with a Hotkey

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Assigning shortcut keys to launch programs in Windows is probably one of the oldest geek tricks in the book, but in true geek fashion we are going to show you how to do it in Windows 8.

Launching a Program with a Shortcut Key

Hotkeys in Windows are applied to shortcuts, this allows you to create hotkeys to files and folders as well as programs. All you have to do is find, or create, a shortcut to the program you wish to open with a hotkey, right click on that shortcut and select properties from the context menu.

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When the Properties dialog for the shortcut loads, click on the Shortcut key textbox.

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Now all you need to do is press the key on your keyboard that you want to get teamed up with ctrl and alt.

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Click the OK button and you’re good to go.

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Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 05/15/12

Comments (16)

  1. Harkaboy

    Last sentence. Not “your good to go”, but “you’re good to go”. *Grammar Nazi*

  2. Jim

    ^Agreed.

    Come on Taylor…you know better ;)

  3. andreas

    must be on desktop though (theshortcut)

  4. Dylan

    Does this work in windows 7 ?

  5. starman1695

    All very good, but…..how to install a program without admin rights on your own PC?

  6. Gavin

    For those looking for a more structured, central approach, I’ve found that Executor (http://executor.dk/) is a great way to do it. It allows you do run things from anywhere, with parameters/arguments as needed, too! HowToGeek has actually posted a couple of guides on it:

    http://www.howtogeek.com/80151/launch-windows-applications-faster-with-executor/
    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/2033/launch-windows-apps-faster-with-executor/

  7. B. Moore

    Useless IMHO…

    there is about a 20 second delay before the dam shortcut launches so it is pointless to set this up.

  8. Psychotish

    “you’re” is acceptable there. It’s a compound word for “you are”. So saying “you are good to go” and “you’re good to go” is just fine.

  9. Ed

    I just know I’ll still be using AutoHotkey when I switch from 7 to 8. AutoHotkey, besides creating shortcuts for all programs and documents, also works as an autocomplete app, which elimininates using another program for that purpose. My text editor (like all word processors) has autocomplete function, but AutoHotkey allows it system-wide. For keyboard launching, AutoHotkey includes the three modifier keys (Control, Shift, Alt) which multiplies the possibilities by four when paired with the Win key (counting Win key alone).

  10. Doug.S

    I’ve used this a lot….But,

    on my desktop I use ctr+alt+s to launch snipping tool
    but on my laptop it refuses to allow using s (so I use =)

    ctr+alt+s is not in use (hit keys and nothing happens)…so why does it not work?

    all other keys setup and work same on both…same OS etc. (win7x64)

    Is there a master file/folder location that stores these shortcuts? if so, can we work with that file/folder?

  11. Rob

    Set up a few Hotkeys and it worked well, until I shut down and re booted. Now none of the Hotkeys I created will work even though they are still set up and visible in the Properties box. Using W7 HP, any suggestions, please?

    Rob.

  12. Frank

    Is a very good trick

  13. @Rob

    I had that problem too. Anyone have suggestions?

  14. Roger

    Same pproblem as Rob

    Set up a few Hotkeys and it worked well, until I shut down and re booted. Now none of the Hotkeys I created will work even though they are still set up and visible in the Properties box. Any suggestions, please?

  15. Rob

    Apparently not.

  16. Rob

    Looks like, for this to work, the Shortcut needs to be visible on the Desktop.

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