Let’s suppose you really like the Calculator program. Instead of having to select it from the Start menu or click on some little icon each time you run it, wouldn’t it be useful to be able to use a keystroke and have it pop up automatically? And suppose you have a few other programs you want to be able to launch quickly, without having to open the Start menu. Today’s tip is for you.
You can create your own custom shortcut keystroke for any application on your Start menu. (You can also extend this tip to apply to Web pages, documents, and much more, but we’ll save that more advanced part for a different day.)
Before you start creating shortcuts, make sure you write them down and keep them saved. It’s also a good idea to make an overall plan for what specific keystroke you plan to use for each of your favorite programs, so you don’t try assigning the same keystroke to more than one program.
For our example, we’ll assign a shortcut for the Calculator. Follow these steps:
- Open the Start menu (with the Windows key or Ctrl-Esc).
- Using the arrow keys, find the Calculator program (in your Accessories menu) and select it (but don’t launch it). One way to get there is to hit P to open the Programs menu, then use the up and down arrow keys until the Accessories menu is open, then use the right arrow key to open the Accessories menu, then use the up and down arrow keys until the Calculator program is highlighted.
- Open the shortcut menu by either right-clicking on the Calculator menu item, or by pressing Shift+F10 when it’s selected. A shortcut menu appears, as shown here.
- Choose the Properties menu item (just press r, since it’s the underlined letter). The Properites dialog box appears.
- You’re interested in the “Shortcut key” menu. Press Alt+K to move down to that field, or hit Tab until it’s highlighted.
- Now press your shortcut key. I recommend Ctrl+Alt+C. You’re limited to only keystrokes that start with Ctrl+Shift, Alt+Shift, Ctrl+Alt, or Ctrl+Shift+Alt. Ctrl+Alt is easy to type, and “C” for calculator should be easy to remember. Hit the keystroke you want, verify it shows up in that field, then press Enter. The dialog box closes.
- Try pressing Ctrl+Alt+C (or whatever you selected) and verify that — like magic! — the Calculator appears.
There’s more we could do here, but give this a try.