Create keyboard shortcut to quickly launch a program

If you have an utility that you start frequently (Like the command prompt or regedit), then you might want to assign a shortcut-key for launching it.

To assign a hot key for an application:
  1. Make a shortcut-link to the application (This will also allow you to start the application with certain parameters)
  2. Place the shortcut-link on desktop or Start-menu (The QuickLaunch-bar will not work)
  3. Right-click the created shortcut-link and select the fan "Shortcut"
  4. Assign the hotkey by giving focus to the edit-field "Shortcut Key", and press the key-combination
  5. Press "Ok"-button
Note one might experience long delays of 3 secs or more, when hitting the shortcut key before the application actually opens. This is because when hitting the shortcut key, then Windows Explorer checks if the application is already open, and if so Windows Explorer gives focus to the open application. The problem is that Windows Explorer needs to ask each open application whether it has the shortcut key assigned, and if some random application is not responding, then it will cause delays. More Info oldnewthing

Related Hot key Detective - Shows you the assigned hotkeys.
Related WinKey
Related AutoHotkey - Any key-combination can become a hotkey.

More Info MS KB134552
More Info MS KB142898
More Info MS KB182366
More Info MS KB192804
More Info MS KB226098
More Info MS KB310417

Microsoft Windows also provides some builtin shortcut keys to access different options within Windows. One can disable the Windows-key short cuts, in case you want to define your own new combined shortcuts (It will not disable the Windows-key itself):

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Policies \Explorer]
NoWinKeys = 1 (Default = 0)

More Info MS KB126449 (Keyboard shortcuts in Windows)
More Info MS KB301583 (Keyboard shortcuts in Windows XP)

Note Windows Vista includes a new keyboard shortcut ability, so one can use the combination Windows-key + number (1-9), and it will launch the shortcut in the Quick Launch bar that correspond to the number. More Info Windows Vista - Keyboard shortcuts.


  1. Phaneendra rao says:


    I have created shortcuts in the start menu and assigned the shortcut keys like ctrl+alt+D .....etc., and they are are working fine.

    I have uninstalled or deleted certain program without
    disabling the shortcut. The shortcut key has become inaccessible for assigning to some other programs. How to disable this key and assign to some other program. Is there any software to clear such keys. I have tried certain software by downloading from the web. It is only indicating that the key is in use, but no option to clear the key.
    My OS is win98SE

    Please tell me the tip for clearing such keys.

    Phaneendra rao

  2. snakefoot says:

    Phaneendra rao
    How to disable this key and assign to some other program. Is there any software to clear such keys.

    Have you tried to restart Windows ?

    If that doesn't help then you might find this little utility useful:

    Hot Key detective

    It will list all assigned shortcut keys and their corresponding application. To change a shortcut key just double click the item and press the keys for new combination (or press Backspace and it will remove the shortcut-key)

  3. Tim Nelson says:

    Thanks so much for the Hotkey detective utility!!
    It fixed my problem. I had assigned a keyboard shortcut and couldn't figure out how to undo it. This program rocks!!!


  4. Dawood says:

    Here is good illustration of how to assign shortcut key to any application:

  5. Thomas J says:

    This is a very nice and informative guide.

    However just to make it crystal clear.
    Once you have put the shortcut on the desktop

    1 Right click the shortcut
    2 Scroll down and left click properties
    3 Look at the Tabs at the top and click Shortcut
    4 Scroll down to the "shortcut key" option box, (It should say "None") Do not waste your time trying to highlight or delete the "None" word, Just put the cursor into the "None" rectangle box.
    5 Now on the keyboard put in "YOUR" desired shortcut combination I suggest Control - Alt- (& YOUR CHOSEN LETTER)
    6 Click Apply and Ok now whenever you use your Keyboard Combination THE APPLICATION WILL OPEN.

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