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Save time and boost your PC productivity with HotKeyMan’s custom keyboard shortcuts

05 June 2012, Mike Williams

When you’re looking to speed up your PC’s operations then learning any available keyboard shortcuts can often help, by minimising the time and effort required to perform common system tasks.

If you’ve already mastered the standard shortcuts, though, it may be time to consider creating your own – and HotKeyMan is a very simple way to help you get started.

The program creates a few sample shortcuts when it’s installed, allowing you to minimise, maximise or restore the active window. Pressing Win+N will launch Notepad, while Win+S fires up HotKeyMan’s screen capture tool, which displays the current screen and allows you to save it to a file with a click.

And if this isn’t enough, the New Hotkey wizard makes it easy to create additional shortcuts of your own.

A simple interface makes it easy to manage your existing hotkeys

The process starts by choosing your preferred keyboard shortcut, which may be constructed from your choice of four Shift keys (Win, Alt, Ctrl, Shift) and any other key.

Next, you select the action your shortcut should perform. This may maximise, minimise or close the active window; open a program or document; launch a particular website; place predefined text (or the content of a specific file) in the clipboard; capture the active window or screen; exit Windows, or send keypresses to the current application.

And once you’ve set this up, that’s it: you just leave HotKeyMan running in the background (consuming just a little over 11MB RAM), and it’ll carry out your defined actions whenever the matching hotkey is pressed.

If you’ve tried PC automation tools before then you’ll probably have realised already that HotKeyMan is a little on the basic side – and you’re quite right, as most of the options are fairly limited. Even the ability to send keypresses isn’t as useful as you might think, because it’s not possible to simulate control or shift keys (you can’t send Alt+F to open a menu, for instance).

What’s more, Windows provides some of HotKeyMan’s capabilities already, no need to install anything further. If you want a keyboard shortcut to launch a program, say, just right-click its Start menu shortcut, click Properties and set whatever you need in the Shortcut Key field: it’s as easy as that.

HotKeyMan isn’t going to impress the Windows expert user, then, but if you’re just after something simple then there are plus points here. The screen capture tool is a convenient way to save grabs to disc; the shortcuts can be set up to use the Windows key, and are easily edited; the ability to place the contents of particular files into the clipboard could be very interesting for some; and the whole program is lightweight and easy to use. If you’re looking for very basic PC automation with none of the usual complexities then HotKeyMan just might fit the bill.

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