How to Create a Custom Hotkey for Your Favorite App or Folder

Using hotkeys to access your favorite apps and folders saves time and effort.

Hotkeys are keyboard shortcuts that save time and effort. A number of them are built into Windows as well as into various applications, such as Windows key + E to open File Explorer, Windows key + I to open Settings, and Windows key + X to open the Quick Link menu.

Windows also has a feature that makes it possible to assign your own custom hotkeys to an app, folder, or file so that it can be opened with a minimum of effort.

There are two ways for designating a hotkey in Windows:

  1. Use a combination of two of the modifier keys Ctrl, Alt, and Shift together with one other key;
  2. Use a single key, one of function keys F1 to F12 or a key from the numeric pad. This method uses keys that often have other functions and must be assigned with care to avoid conflicts.

The usual way to set up a hotkey is with the default combination Ctrl + Alt + (key), where (key) is one of the standard keyboard keys. Certain keys such as Esc, Ins, Del, Enter, Tab, Spacebar, PrtScn, Shift, or Backspace keys are not allowed as the third key, but punctuation keys, arrow keys, Home, Page Down and others are allowed as well as the usual letters and numbers.

The Ctrl + Alt combination is automatically applied by Windows in the method given here, but other combinations using two of the three modifier keys Ctrl, Alt, and Shift are also possible.

There is a small catch. Windows does not apply hotkeys to a file or folder directly, but only works with a shortcut file for the desired target. For applications that are listed in All Apps, a shortcut file already exists. For other files or folders, a shortcut file for the object in question will have to be created if one does not already exist. The shortcut file must be placed in either the All apps list, on the Desktop, or a folder on the Desktop.

How to assign a hotkey to an application (based in Windows 10)

  1. Open the Start menu;
  2. Drag and drop an app on Start or in All apps to the Desktop, and a shortcut will be added;
  3. Right-click the new shortcut on the Desktop and choose Properties;
  4. In the Properties dialog, find the text box labeled Shortcut key;
  5. Click in the text box and enter a key that you wish to use in your hotkey. Windows will automatically place “Ctrl + Alt +” in front. (See Tips 2)
  6. Click OK.

How to assign a hotkey to a folder or file not in the All Apps menu

  1. Right-click the desired target file or folder, select Send to and Desktop (create shortcut) from the menu; (See Tips 3)
  2. Right-click the new shortcut file on the Desktop and choose Properties;
  3. Carry out steps 4-6 given above.
Tips


  1. You must create the shortcut exactly where you intend to keep it. If you create the shortcut one place and then move it, the hotkey won’t work.
  2. If you use a function key or a numeric keypad key as a hotkey, only that key will be used and “Ctrl + Alt +” will not be automatically added by the system when adding the hotkey.
  3. You can also right-click dragging the desired target file or folder to the Desktop (or to a folder on the Desktop), and select “Create shortcut here” to create a shortcut.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *