In this blog entry, we'll tackle the subject of using a utility to create powerful shortcut keys.
If reading my muse isn't exhilarating enough, this time I'm venturing into the world of podcasting. That's right, now you also have the option of hearing my dulcet tones, helping you along the path of installing the utility and setting up a few shortcut keys. You can find this audio tutorial in MP3 format at the following link:
Okay, let's get tinkering.
As many of you may know, I'm a huge fan of shortcuts. It sort of works into my inherent laziness. Seriously though, why type 20 keystrokes when you could accomplish the same thing with one key combination? Here comes Hotkeyz to the rescue. Yes, it's spelled correctly. Hotkeyz is a shortcut key creator with a dazzling array of bells and whistles. For a small program, it sure packs a punch.
Installing the program:
First things first, the program needs to be installed. Hotkeyz can be found at:
Or you can simply follow this direct link to the installer:
Hotkeyz is a donation ware program. Meaning that you can use this program for free, but can donate to its creator if you find Hotkeyz to be useful to you.
Download the program and run it.
Follow the setup prompts. The default settings are fine. TABBING through the screens and pressing ENTER on the "Next" buttons should complete the procedure. There is one radio button to agree to the license, but that's the only caveat.
Now, Let's have fun:
So, if everything went as planned, you should have Hotkeyz installed. Pressing WINDOWS+Q should bring up the Hotkeyz program. If not, you can access it by going to the Desktop, WINDOWS+M, TAB until you reach the system tray, press the letter H to get to the Hotkeyz icon and press the SPACEBAR. See how a hotkey can save keystrokes?
Setting up Hotkeys:
There are 3 options that should be set before we start.
Press ALT+S to get to the settings menu.
Press DOWN ARROW until you encounter:
Add Hotkeyz to Windows Startup
Press ENTER to enable this feature. This will ensure that Hotkeyz will be loaded every time you start your system.
Next, Press ALT+S again and then DOWN ARROW to:
ESC Key minimize Hotkeys. Press ENTER on this option.
This will let you back out of the program by just pressing ESCAPE.
Finally, press ALT+S again, (getting tired yet?), and then DOWN ARROW to:
Minimize Hotkeyz when choosing Close from System Menu
And press ENTER. This option will allow you to press ALT+F4 and it will simply minimize the program instead of shutting it down.
If you really want to shut it down, there's an option for that in the Hotkeyz file menu.
The Main Screen:
We can finally get to a bit of tinkering.
There are already a few hotkeys setup by default. We'll look at them in a second. First, let me explain the screen. It is divided into 3 sections.
The first one is labeled TNT Memo1. Very descriptive isn't it? I've been able to ignore this screen and life has continued on. The next 2 sections are the ones that concern us.
Pressing TAB brings us to the category list of hotkeys. Yes, you can save your hotkey under categories such as system, sound, hotkey commands and the like. You can even create your own category, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Stay on the "all" category. This will let us visit all of the keys that are already programmed.
TAB again and this brings you to the list of hotkeys. Use the UP and DOWN arrows to investigate the commands. But, how do you find out which hotkey combination executes these commands? They are actually listed on the screen. Some screen readers will read the key, while others will not. For those who don't, the hotkey can be found as follows:
Press the APPLICATIONS key. On desktop keyboards, this key is found on the right of the SPACEBAR third key to the right. Press the letter E to choose the edit option. Alternatively, you can press ALT+E. From there, TAB until you hear "Hotkey (Keyboard shortcut keys). This is where the key combination is listed. For example, the control panel shortcut key is SHIFT+CONTROL+ALT+C. Pressing JAWSKEY+UP ARROW should read you the current hotkey. TAB to the "Cancel" button" and press ENTER to get back to the list of keys.
Creating a shortcut:
Well, that is a bit of a fib, we'll be creating 2 shortcuts. As previously mentioned, Hotkeyz comes with many bells and whistles. I'll be using one of these whistles in my example below to prove my statement.
When I use my computer, my biggest pet peeve is having to ALT+TAB through all of my programs, just to get to the one that I want. I'd rather have some hidden away so that I can simply summon them when I need them. Hotkeyz has a feature to do just that. It's composed of 2 commands; hide and unhide. So, if you're still with me, let's create these 2 key combinations.
- From anywhere within the list of hotkeys, press the APPLICATIONS key.
Press ENTER on New. Alternatively, you can press ALT+N.
- TAB to the "Command edit" area and type, "hide", (without the quotes),
- TAB again and type in a description such as: "Hides the current running program).
- The next TAB brings you to the Category. You can arrow through the present categories, or create a new one. I would put this one under "Hotkeyz Commands".
- Now, here's where it could get confusing. It is possible to choose precisely where the hotkey will work. For example, you could have a hotkey only work in notepad. But we want to make this hotkey work everywhere. TAB to "Hotkey works with?" and then TAB one more time. Use your arrow keys to choose, "All desktop windows". Then TAB to, "Hotkey "Keyboard shortcut keys)" Is this area familiar? It should be. This is where the shortcut key was read in the previous section. We're going to add a shortcut here.
- Press WINDOWS+DELETE. That's the DELETE key on the bottom left key of the six pack of keys found over the arrow keys on most keyboards. To verify that it worked, press JAWSKEY+UP ARROW. If you press a shortcut key that has already been used, you will get an error message.
- You're almost done. TAB a few more times until you get to the okay button and press ENTER.
Pat yourself on the back. It's your first shortcut key, but it isn't going to be useful to you unless you add its companion command "unhide". So, go through the above steps again, but replace the word "hide" with "unhide", (without the quotes). Also, change the shortcut key to WINDOWS+INSERT. That's the INSERT key found above the DELETE on the six pack of keys.
So what now?
Well, you've created both of your keys, so now try hiding a program. I utilize this set up to hide Outlook. This removes it from the foreground, but still lets it run in the background. Therefore, I can hear when new messages come in. I press my "unhide" key sequence and Outlook comes back so I can interact with my new messages.
For a bonus hotkey setup to launch Notepad and a more indepth step-by-step Hotkeyz setup sequence, listen to the Hotkeys Tutorial found at:
That's it for now.